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Duckworth, Durbin call Trump parade a big waste for taxpayers

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House, in Washington, on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. Carolyn Kaster/AP photo

WASHINGTON — Illinois Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin oppose the massive military parade President Donald Trump is contemplating. Signs point to it actually happening.

“It’s a monumental waste of taxpayer resources,” Duckworth told me on Wednesday.

“I say it’s a fantastic waste of money to amuse the president,” Durbin said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

They both said there are better ways to help the troops and their families.

Trump attended the Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees July 14, 2017 and came away awe-struck.

Trump wants to top Paris with his own parade.

Depending on your analysis, Trump wants his parade:

• To show off U.S. military strength. As if we have to. Does any nation doubt the U.S. is a military superpower?

• To honor the military and the veterans. Is a parade the best way to do this?

• To put on a bigger, better show than France. Really? Yup. Keep reading.

The Washington Post reported that the Pentagon has been working on Trump’s parade.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, confirming the Post story at the Wednesday White House briefing, said: “We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them up to the White House for a decision.”

At a Sept. 18, 2017, New York meeting with the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, Trump showed his hand.

“I do want to say that I was your guest at Bastille Day, and it was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen. It was two hours on the button, and it was military might, and I think a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France.

“. . . And to a large extent, because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4th in Washington, down Pennsylvania Avenue. I don’t know. We’re going to have to try and top it.

“But we had a lot of planes going over and we had a lot of military might, and it was really a beautiful thing to see. They had representatives from different wars and different uniforms. It was really so well done.

“But I came back, and one of my early calls were, I think we’re going to have to start looking at that ourselves. So we’re actually thinking about 4th of July, Pennsylvania Avenue, having a really great parade to show our military strength,” Trump said.


Duckworth, as Sun-Times readers know, lost her legs when her helicopter was shot down in Iraq. She has in recent weeks stepped up criticism of Trump, increasing her warnings about the perils of war with North Korea.

She has nicknamed Trump “Cadet Bone Spurs” because of his medical reason for a draft deferment. She has called him a “a five-deferment draft dodger.”

After Trump called Democrats “treasonous” for not applauding him at the State of the Union, Duckworth said in a Tweet she will not “mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.”

As for the parade, Duckworth told me, “Why would we do this when we’re still at war? We have young men and women in harm’s way right now.”

The parade would also cost millions of dollars.

“And he wants to hold a parade? For what? . . . Let’s take that money and spend it on our troops or their families” and “not order them to participate in some sort of a show and parade for his ego.”

Trump, the commander-in-chief, can order a military parade. It would be, Duckworth noted, a lawful order the military must obey.

“Unlike other people who can quit their jobs, our military men and women can’t. . . . They have to do it.”

Said Duckworth, “It’s my job to speak up as a co-equal branch of government to the administration, that this is foolish and should not happen.”