Of course he does.
This is a MAGA instant classic, not just because it’s Trump at his Trumpiest but because his supporters are already dividing on Twitter into two camps in his defense. Camp one: What’s wrong with having the military parade its weaponry through American city streets? You know that presidents have included military vehicles in inaugural parades, don’t you? Besides, the troops don’t get enough credit for what they sacrifice. They deserve a day to strut their stuff to applause. It’s a great idea.
Camp two: FAKE NEWS! You should never believe the Washington Post, especially when one of its stories reduces Trump to a strength-worshipping, authoritarian, militaristic caricature of himself. This garbage is catnip for leftists and NeverTrump suckers who want to believe that it’d give Trump a boner to see U.S. tanks rolling through civilian areas in a vulgar display of power. Stop being blinded by your Trump-hate and be less credulous.
Both camps love Trump but camp one also likes the parade idea while camp two dislikes it. And when he’s accused of doing something that you dislike, who are you going to blame? Not him, surely.
Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning.
Surrounded by the military’s highest ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said.
“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”
I like to imagine Mattis somberly briefing a bored Trump on his options on North Korea, with POTUS finally cutting him off by interjecting about maybe having a sweet-ass parade with tanks and missiles and stuff right past the White House. No wonder camp two wants to call this “fake news”: Dwelling on pageantry and stagecraft during a top-secret meeting at the Pentagon makes it sound like we elected a TV star president. Um.
One source told WaPo that they’re still at the “brainstorming” stage but there’s every reason to believe that Trump is sincere about doing this. He’s been talking about it publicly and, allegedly, privately for the past year. There was a report the day before the inauguration that his team wanted some military hardware in the inaugural parade but it didn’t end up happening. Emmanuel Macron invited him to a Bastille Day military parade last summer, apparently believing that nothing would charm a would-be strongman like a display of jets, guns, and rockets, and it worked. Boy, did it ever. Trump raved about it afterward. He was still raving months later, using a photo op with Macron at the UN General Assembly in September to praise France’s parade again and to let everyone know that the U.S. was hoping to top it sometime soon. Watch:
Trump: "We're actually thinking about, 4th of July, Pennsylvania Avenue, having a really great parade to show our military strength." pic.twitter.com/sowDJdNvaY
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 18, 2017
Note his preferred date for the parade. According to WaPo and NBC, the Pentagon prefers Veterans Day, which is smart. Veterans Day is a day to honor the troops; a military parade on that occasion, to celebrate the participants, is understandable. A military parade on Independence Day would send a different message, that America itself is best represented by a display of military firepower. It wouldn’t be the troops who were honored so much as it would be Trump himself: This is my vision for the country, he’d be saying, on the anniversary of its founding. He might as well wear epaulets for the ceremony. Pause for a moment to reflect that, if WaPo’s reporting is accurate, it’s the military itself that’s leery of associating with a symbolic display on July 4, for fear of sending the wrong connotations about patriotism. Not Trump himself.
There’s another reason why a military parade is a bad idea. Although Trump doesn’t see it, it’s something more common in weak countries than in strong ones. America keeps its tanks out of city streets not just because that symbolically inverts the usual order of civilian supremacy over the military but because it has nothing to prove militarily. Its strength is already respected. There’s a reason why France shows off the guns on Bastille Day but we don’t on July 4. But as I said after his photo op with Macron, maybe we *have* reached a point of imperial decline where some saber-rattling is needed to soothe the national ego. Much of the public will love it even if liberals and “conservatarians” don’t. And having once established the precedent, Trump will all but guarantee that his next few successors will keep up the tradition whether they want to or not. Do you think the next Democratic commander-in-chief will open him or herself up to being called “weak” or “unpatriotic” by canceling a military parade that Trump held every year routinely? Bear that in mind when Democrats start hooting about this. They won’t dare discontinue it once it happens because of the political implications.
As for Trump himself, this is going to open him up to a new round of “Cadet Bone Spurs” cracks from people like Tammy Duckworth and it’ll cost millions to pull off, both in moving the tanks and planes into position and rehabilitating the roads in D.C. after super-heavy military vehicles go to work on them. But why worry about cost? I mean, really:
GOP homing in on deal to increase spending by $300 billion over the next 2 years.
— Daniel Horowitz (@RMConservative) February 6, 2018
News like that would have caused a near-riot in conservative media at the height of tea-party-ism. Now? C’mon.
Exit question: Is it finally going to happen? Trump on the tank?
Let the eagle soar!!! pic.twitter.com/ruBgslrZIG
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) August 8, 2017