Irish history is a great teacher. Before I get to the meat and potatoes of this blog, I’ll first cite the example of a famous exponent of Irish national self-determination, Isaac Butt. Butt was notorious for droning on and on in Parliament, so as to obstruct the passage of bills he didn’t like. He was contemporary with heavyweights such as Disraeli and Gladstone, whose words can be quoted verbatim to support arguments of the most delicate discourse. Yet, boring Butt is the one who has his place among Irish nationalists, not the eloquent marksmen of British politics. Why? Because Butt got his message across to his constituents.
Now, we get to Trump’s speech at the Boy Scout jamboree. It broke all Washington conventions, was hypocritical (‘I won’t get political’), obnoxious, damaging to the reputation of Boy Scouts, and cringe-worthy. Certain comments verged on the lewd.
Critics railed, saying “YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TALK TO THE BOY SCOUTS LIKE THIS.” To them, its simple; Trump was merely speaking to 45,000 mostly teenage boys and his remarks were inappropriate and unprecedented, there were even accusations of brainwashing youth and distorting their minds.
All of these are valid points. But they miss the fact that Trump wasn’t just speaking to 45,000 Boy Scouts. He was really talking to the whole world, particularly anti-liberals in the US and abroad. Those who support Trump love when he tears up the rule book. They love his controversy. Every time the media or Washington is given a bloody nose by Trump, they whoop and holler.
What Trumps critics don’t get is that Trump is a communicator. Period. It was wrong for him to do what he did. That’s why he did it. It communicated to his base that he is going to drive a horse and coach through the rules. Trump is not going to be stopped, or at least not going to allow himself be hobbled by the rules. In a nutshell, he is different.
Isaac Butts seat was occupied two years after his death by an even more famous nationalist, Charles Stewart Parnell, who said “No man has a right to fix the boundary of the march of a nation; no man has a right to say to his country – thus far shalt thou go and no further.” Trump would agree with the sentiment that rules are for saps.