WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is turning what has been a nonpartisan celebration of national unity — a Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall — into a homage to himself, ordering up military jets and tanks to use as props for a Thursday speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
Trump, a reality show star, is wildly successful in bending the norms of government to his will. No. Matter. What.
And now this.
A grandiose vanity photo op.
Veterans and Memorial Days are the military holidays. July 4 is Independence Day, to mark when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.
“The president is his own executive producer for this 4th of July celebration,” said GOP strategist Ryan Williams, putting on what he thinks is the best show possible in order to “project strength and control.”
Chicago Democratic-allied activists are taking notice. Organizers at Indivisible Chicago, a coalition of neighborhood and grassroots chapters, promise to “shine a light on democracy” with an after-dark protest July 3, said group spokesperson Marj Halperin.
Said Halperin, the group “plans to highlight Trump’s transgressions and provide balance to the one-sided message he’ll offer at the National Mall.”
Trump’s dream has been to preside over a military parade. After watching the Bastille Day celebration of the French military on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on July 14, 2017, he told the Defense Department to plan a military-themed Veterans Day parade for Nov. 11, 2018.
In February 2018, Illinois Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, among others, said Trump’s military parade wasted taxpayer money, better spent on the troops and their families. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., filed a bill, “Preparedness Before Parades Act,” to block a parade.
The D.C. government objected, since tanks rumbling down Pennsylvania Avenue would tear up the streets and no one was offering to pay for the damage. The parade was shelved.
Trump, who is cunning, went through the back door to resurrect his parade.
Though the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall are in D.C., the city government has no say over federal real estate.
Trump simply booked the Lincoln Memorial on July 4 because … he could. Tanks will be on display, no matter potential damage to the Mall. An M1 Abrams battle tank weighs 60 tons.
”Big 4th of July in D.C. “Salute to America.” The Pentagon & our great Military Leaders are thrilled to be doing this & showing to the American people, among other things, the strongest and most advanced Military anywhere in the World. Incredible Flyovers & biggest ever Fireworks!” Trump wrote in a tweet Tuesday.
Predicted thunderstorms may wash out the flyovers. Who will Trump blame for the rain?
A White House Official told me, “There is no cost estimate at the moment. We are not commenting on specifics on flyover. The event is free and open to the public. There is a ticketed area for VIPs, friends/family, members of the military, and veterans. There is nothing more to add to what POTUS has said.”
There is, from a tweet posted by the D.C. City Council on Monday: “We have said it before, and we’ll say it again: Tanks, but no tanks.”