Presidents get the strangest ideas when traveling overseas. In 1969, President Richard Nixon had a humble D.C. tailor design new uniforms for his ceremonial guard after visiting Europe, where royal guardsmen were dressed in outfits that looked like marching band uniforms. “The total look includes double-breasted white tunics trimmed with gold braid and gold button and stiff plastic shakos decorated with the White House crest,” wrote the New York Times’ Nan Robertson.
The White House uniforms, universally derided as clown costumes, didn’t last long. The hats were first, and by mid-1970 the entire getup vanished. The liveries didn’t go to waste, however, getting a second life as the new uniforms of the Southern Utah State College marching band.
The equally impressionable Donald Trump got his inspiration over the summer while viewing the Bastille Day parade with President Emmanuel Macron of France. Stimulated by the clanking tanks, marching troops and soaring military jets, Trump this week proposed a similar Fourth of July parade down Pennsylvania Avenue “to show our military strength.” Of the French parade, Trump said, “We’re going to have to try and top it.” His must always be the biggest.