Politics and civics

Dueling presidential speeches for youth audiences: Obama v Trump

You’ve probably heard of Trump’s Boy Scout speech from Monday 24 July 2017. But have you heard about Obama’s 2009 back-to-school speech?

On 24 July 2017, President Donald Trump delivered a controversial, profanity-and-politically-laced 38-minute speech at the Boy Scouts Jamboree in West Virginia.

On 8 September 2009, President Barack Obama delivered a 16-minute “back to school” speech, urging students to stay in school and apply themselves. It was complete with lesson plans, and schools could opt-in. It would become the first of three speeches over the course of his eight years that were broadcast to the nation’s schools. Predictably, it was preceded by GOP objections.

Sean Hannity: “It seems very close to indoctrination.”

Which speech was the most age appropriate? Which violated norms, right-left-center?

Read each speech; they’re side-by-side. Or watch the speech on Internet video (aka YouTube).

I thought I would be able to write a reasoned response after reading the two. I can’t. I am at a loss for words.

I have, however, highlighted and lightly annotated Trump’s speech:

  • He cursed.
  • He called out the news media four times, twice referring to “fake news.”
  • He said he wouldn’t talk about politics, but he did, from health care to “the swamp”, from military budgets to economic policy.
  • He also talked about the election and Hilary Clinton (“my opponent”) and made a reference to Obama.
  • Most of his stories were all about “me, me, me.”

There was nothing to annotate in Obama’s speech.

Trump threw a dig at Obama’s not having delivered a speech at the Jamboree. BSA invited Obama in 2013; he declined, joining a national protest of then-current policy preventing gay members or leaders from joining the organization.

Trump was uniquely unqualified to deliver this speech, since he was not a Boy Scout. Another point to differentiate himself from predecessors like US presidents John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama — all of whom were Boy Scouts.

If you want to read more about Trump’s speech, have at it:

Another “you can’t make this stuff up” moment: the guy who is the president of the Boy Scouts … has a massive merger pending. You, know, AT&T and its $85 billion bid for Time Warner.


Featured image: Obama Whitehouse Archives


By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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