Gates: Young Americans need to get off the couch

Good for Robert Gates (from The Wall Street Journal):

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a former Eagle Scout, addressed the Boy Scout jamboree being held at Virginia’s Fort A.P. Hill. — and struck a decidedly cranky tone.

In his Wednesday speech, Gates said that young Americans are “increasingly physically unfit,” and cast doubts their character, too. Quoting Walter Lippman, Gates said he sees daily “the disaster of the character of men” and “the catastrophe of the soul.”

But, he was quick to add, not among Boy Scouts.

“At a time when many American young people are turning into couch potatoes, and too often much worse, scouting continues to challenge boys and young men, preparing you for leadership,” Gates said.

Gates praised scouting for pushing young people into the wilderness to learn both about nature and self reliance. He also said the Boy Scout’s great contribution was encouraging public service. “The scouting movement shows dramatically that service, public service, still beckons the best among us to do battle with complacency, neglect, intolerance, and the emptiness of the spirit that are the common enemies of social peace and justice,” he said.

It is not entirely clear what set off Gates and prompted him to call out America as a nation of couch potatoes. But the military has struggled in recent years with finding recruits that are physically fit enough to enlist in the military. Mission: Readiness, a group of retired senior military leaders, estimated this year that 27% of 17- to 24-year-old Americans are too overweight to join the military. And the Defense Department has said that more than 47,000 would-be recruits were turned away between 2005 and 2008 for being overweight.

10 comments Add your comment


July 30th, 2010
5:05 pm

I am a long time supporter of the BSA, both as a former member, volunteer leader, and as a parent of 4 boys who have been/are involved. That said, the one thing I would change is their discriminatory policy toward homosexuals.
As for inactive kids, perhaps they need to spend less time fondling electronic devices.

Grand Forks

July 30th, 2010
6:20 pm

Interesting that Gates talked to the Scouts and Obama went on a show for fat ugly left wing women.


July 30th, 2010
6:47 pm

I would add that anyone who has decided not to serve his country is wanting in the basic American tradition of country first.

We have become a nation of “me” first.

If I may steal a title and change it a bit: “The Late Great United States of America”.

For the good of the future of the country we really need to bring back the universal draft. All should in some way serve their country. Today we are a nation of “Selfish” who would never lower themselves to actually serve their country.

That attitude really needs to change.

Grand Forks

July 30th, 2010
6:51 pm


I’ve thought that for years. If everyone has to serve in the military, crime would drastically go down, kids would have more respect for others and no one on Earth would ever mess with us.


July 30th, 2010
7:40 pm

We’d also have fewer KeyBoard Warriors around here.

Grand Forks

July 30th, 2010
8:12 pm

“We’d also have fewer KeyBoard Warriors around here.”

Speaking for yourself?


July 30th, 2010
8:28 pm

Now that I’ve read Gates’ address to the BSA, I’m glad Obama didn’t show up. Can’t speak from the heart on those things about which he knows nothing.

Obama was sitting on the couch with the ladies of The View while Gates encouraged young boys to become men.

Thank you President Obama. Never send a girl to do a man’s job.

Grand Forks

July 30th, 2010
8:34 pm

“Never send a girl to do a man’s job.”

That first pitch at the Nationals game must be a nightmare for Obama. What a wuss.


July 31st, 2010
6:04 pm

I’m shocked conservatives who cry all day about government intervention are in favor of the government forcing me to join the military. I’m 22 and went to a top 10 university in the U.S without the help of rich parents or a fancy prep-school. I’m neither fat nor lazy, so why should I be forced to enlist? It’s a free country, let it stay that way. I’m glad people like yourselves are not dictating policy based off of nostalgia for “the good ol’ days” when racism was alive and well and woman could only aspire to be secretaries. As if participation in the military was the only way I could “serve my country……..sigh.

Roberts Gate

July 31st, 2010
9:21 pm

Drop down and give me 20, Wingfield you pasty doughboy! Christ Almighty, you’ve got to be the biggest pantywaist I have ever laid my eyes on!