A.C. Snow

Our president should polish up his couth

Trump criticized for bringing too much politics into speech at Boy Scout Jamboree

Watch clips of President Trump's speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree where he spoke about Obamacare and the "cesspool" of Washington politics.
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Watch clips of President Trump's speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree where he spoke about Obamacare and the "cesspool" of Washington politics.

Sometimes it seems our president can’t open his mouth without cramming both feet in it. You might say he’s afflicted with “hoof in mouth” disease.

Even in this advanced “anything goes” age, a president should not make a speech to 40,000 Boy Scouts and leaders that amounts to a political tirade in which he lambasts his perceived enemies and over-praises himself.

I vow it wasn’t the first time that many of the scouts had heard the expression “what in the hell,” but it was probably the first time that most scouts, present and past, heard a president of the United States resort to profanity in a speech to the youth of America.

I also doubt that President Trump’s mama raised him to talk like that. However, if he did “talk ugly,” it’s unlikely that she washed his mouth out with soap.

My mother never punished us for our loose language with mouth washing. She sent us to fetch a sturdy peach tree “switch” that she vigorously applied to our legs and backs.

The Boy Scouts of America speech’s worst fallout is the further blemishing of the president’s image as the leader of the free world.

A longtime friend, now deceased, used a favorite expression to describe someone who was guilty of social misbehavior: “The man ain’t got no couth,” meaning the fellow was uncouth.

Even some Republicans agree that the president, for his own and the country’s sake, needs to become more couth conscious.

Aging optimistically

Poet Robert Browning must have been young or in mid-life when he wrote “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.”

As anyone over 60 knows, such a declaration is highly debatable. Among the complaints of aging I frequently hear is a new one a friend expressed recently.

“Even the checkout cashiers at the grocery store don’t bother to look at me any more when they’re ringing up my purchases,” he said. “Time was when we would have a sprightly conversation, and, occasionally, engage in a little flirtation.

“It’s downright demoralizing when a half gallon of milk or a pound of butter apparently have more sex appeal than I do.”

For some inexplicable reason, I don’t think of myself as being as elderly as I actually am. For example, I tend to inwardly bristle when a cashier asks, “Would you like someone to help you get those to the car?”

Still, I’m not so naive as to believe Browning’s optimistic prediction. Yes, he must have been in his 20s or 30s when he penned those words.

Summer serenade

The cicadas are back.

The late afternoon to dusk “chrrrrrrrrring” by thousands of the insects singing in the trees announces summer’s approaching swan song.

When we were kids, we called them “jar flies” because of the jarring crescendo they emit.

Their life cycle is fascinating. Eggs are laid in the bark of trees, preferably oaks. When the eggs hatch, the larvae fall to the ground and burrow down to eight feet or more. They emerge around seven or eight years later for their musical debut.

When I was editor of The Raleigh Times, I invited Wright Langley, a young reporter from upstate New York, to dinner. As we sat outside after the meal, the cicadas suddenly burst into song.

Wright was totally fascinated by the sound and would run from tree to tree, slapping his hand against tree trunks and shouting, “Hush!”

The chorus would cease immediately, the insects apparently having sensed the impact of his hand on the tree trunk. Within a minute or two, the “chrrrrrrrring” would resume.

So, Wright Langley, wherever you are, the cicadas are back!

Immigrant discrimination

President Trump’s latest immigration policy has prompted protests from critics who say the provision that immigration applicants must speak English violates the spirit of the famous inscription inside the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Poet Emma Lazarus of New York wrote those famous lines. Seventeen years after the poet’s death, a friend found the poem and publicized it.

Today the words are familiar to and cherished by millions of Americans:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!