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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Donald Trump’s plan to turn the Independence Day celebration in Washington DC into a military display is the wrong approach for a number of reasons, according to several political observers.
Unlike past recent July 4th events, Trump has turned this year’s celebration into a military parade complete with tanks, fighter jets and other vehicles.
“I think the military would prefer to have The Fourth of July be a day for the American people to enjoy themselves and their families and enjoy the fireworks and enjoy the music,” said former defense secretary Leon Panetta. “We’ve never turned the Fourth of July into a military event, and we shouldn’t do it now. I think there’s a consensus among military leaders that that’s the wrong thing to do. We are strong. We have never had to display that strength to anybody.”
MSNBC host Joy Reid ascribed a particularly dark motive to Trump’s desire for a show of hometown military might.
“Who is that message to? It’s certainly not to tyrants because he like tyrants, he loves tyrants. It’s not to [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin, it’s not to [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un, it’s not to the Saudis. Is it to our friends? Is it to Western democracies, who he doesn’t particularly like? Or is it to us?” Reid mused. “Is it to the resistance in this country? ‘I got tanks, I have this military armada.’ The message is a threat. But it’s always a threat when you roll out your military. But it’s to whom is the threat, and I suspect that the threat is to his fellow Americans. And I hate to say that, but I think that Donald Trump styles himself a tyrant, not a defeater of tyrants.”
And then there is the shady aspect to this (and, no, not the cool and comfortable sort of shady) in which Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) have roped off a “VIP section” which GOP bigwigs pay the Trump campaign big bucks to get into.
“… But the fact is what President Trump is trying to do here is use the men and women who are serving overseas, who are defending our country, as political props,” said Jen Psaki, who served as White House communications director for President Barack Obama. “As we know, because the RNC is selling tickets to this event. That’s not normal. When I was serving in the White House and I’m certain before I was there with past presidents, we invited men and women who were serving and their families to the White House to have a private event, we fed everyone, we gave everyone drinks and we had an event with a band and President Obama, and I’m sure President Bush and others before him, spoke to them privately. That’s appropriate. This is not.”