Over the past few months, a widely circulated e-mail has reported that President Barack Obama is not signing Eagle Scout certificates, which only 4-5 percent of Boy Scouts attain. Categorically, Internet watchdog sites, such as snopes.com, have classified the claims as "hogwash." But I have found a steady stream of White House whitewashing when it comes to the Boy Scouts of America.
A new entry on snopes.com defends that "President Obama's signature has been appearing on Eagle Scout certificates since late 2009," roughly one year into his presidency. But the Boy Scouts of America National Council confessed that Scout candidates who'd had board reviews before the spring of 2010 had received unsigned certificates.
"No Eagle recognition letters have been received this year from the president," said Richard Meyers, who attained his Eagle rank in 1957 -- during the Eisenhower presidency -- and is now assistant scoutmaster for Troop 162 in Arlington County, Va. Meyers made this clarification at a Chain Bridge District 2010 Life to Eagle seminar Jan. 30.
Why the tardiness? The Boy Scouts of America says the primary reason is an administrative delay in authorizing the president's signature. But does anyone else find it strange that the president has sent out 13,000 letters of congratulations to Eagle Scouts since the beginning of his presidency (with his signature on them, to boot) yet, a year after Obama's inauguration, Eagle Scouts can't get a presidential signature on their certificates?
But the delay is even more peculiar because Obama became the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America way back on March 3, 2009 -- an event that was done almost completely in secret in the Oval Office. Since President William Howard Taft in 1910, U.S. presidents have proudly fulfilled the position of honorary president of the BSA. But neither the honor nor the event was highlighted in any official White House communication. Nothing mentioned at the March 3 White House briefing. Nothing noted anywhere on the White House's official website. Obama simply accepted the honorary presidential position behind closed doors in the Oval Office with seven or so Boy Scouts present.