President Trump has crushed political norms and constitutional barriers, whether by his incessant, brazen lying or his defiance of Congress in executive power grabs or impeding the Mueller investigation or smearing our intelligence community or taking monies from foreign governments in violation of the emoluments clause (according to two district court judges). But now, he has really done it.
Absconding with the most American of holidays, Independence Day, he plans to run a Soviet-style military display on the Mall; and just like the Soviets of old, he’ll have rich apparatchiks ... er, donors, in preferred seats, because nothing says Fourth of July like preferential treatment for rich toadies.
The event embodies so much of what is wrong with Trump that a Hollywood screenwriter surely would have been told to do a page-one rewrite of “Trump’s Grotesque Celebration of Himself.” It has nearly every Trumpian element.
There is the cringe-worthy ignorance. (“Abrams tanks — which Trump referred to as ‘Abram’ tanks in his remarks — weigh more than 60 tons and are usually transported over long distances by heavy rail,” The Post reports. “Trump also said ‘we have the brand-new Sherman tanks,’ which have not been in use by the U.S. military since the 1950s.”)
There is the misuse of the military as props for his own partisan ends and personal glorification (especially demanding that service commanders stand at his side during the flyovers, as any tinpot dictator would insist upon). His incessant desire to ingratiate himself (he imagines) with the military while lacking any sense of its code of honor and values (e.g. considering pardons for war criminals, extolling police brutality) is a pathetic attempt to “make up” for draft avoidance.
There is the raiding of the Treasury for his personal aggrandizement. “The F-35 costs about $30,000 per hour to fly, according to Pentagon estimates. Each Blue Angel jet costs at least $10,000 per hour to operate, and the cost of flying an Air Force One jet is more than $140,000 per hour,” The Post reports. Moreover, “Two major fireworks firms have donated a pyrotechnic show valued at $750,000, for example, but the Park Service will have to pay employees overtime to clean up the remnants of that display.”
There is the misconstruing of American traditions. What should be a commemoration of human rights ("All men ... ") and the unwavering faith in the rule of law and in democratic governance in Trump’s hands becomes a caffeinated Armed Services Day. He manages to transform a holiday about the greatest experiment in civilian self-government into a garish military Mardi Gras.
There is the invasion of Americans’ nonpolitical lives, the peace and relaxation free people enjoy from the dictates of the Great Leader. A constitutional government with limits on the power of politicians is designed to carve out a free space for civil society and the joys that friends, family, picnics and community associations provide. So much for that.
I would suggest there are a few countervailing considerations that might reduce your blood pressure, relax your clenched fist and even provide a laugh or two.
First, this is precisely the sort of reminder that 60 percent or so of the country needs. This is why a lying braggart and ignorant narcissist must go. He defiles and deforms everything he touches, putting our American creed and values in jeopardy. We long for a normal president who will allow us to return to daily lives not soured by 24/7 politics and not forever on edge that he is up to some new horror. (Might I suggest you donate time or money on the Fourth to some good cause or candidate that aims to eliminate his presence from the national stage, taking his family of grifters with him?)
Second, the “Trump Baby” balloon might be aloft.
And finally, there is a good chance of thunderstorms. Trump plans, God laughs.