Nearly two years after Emmanuel Macron hosted President Trump for France’s Bastille Day parade, sparking jealousy in the budding authoritarian, Trump finally got his own splashy celebration of American military might on Thursday.
The July 4th celebration on the National Mall saw Trump address an adoring crowd behind rain-soaked bulletproof glass. There were tanks parked on the National Mall and military jets overhead. And hopefully you were too busy taking the day off from politics to pay any attention to it.
Here’s what you missed:
The speech was distinctly un-Trumpian
Trump’s 45-minute speech drew the kind of praise he gets anytime his oratory does not involve an angry xenophobic tirade. The Times said he struck an “optimistic tone,” that differed markedly from the “dark message of grievance” that he delivered in his 2020 campaign launch two weeks ago. According to The Atlantic, the speech was “unusual, by Trump standards,” with “little in the way of self-congratulation; no insults hurled at enemies.” And the Daily News described it as “relatively free of the populist claptrap and barely disguised racism that characterizes so many of the president’s rally addresses.”
Instead, Trump took listeners on a rambling journey of American military history and claimed that, “Someday soon we will plant the American flag on Mars.”
He shouted out Betsy Ross, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Martin Luther King Jr., among many others. The crowd went wild.
He also made a pitch for young Americans to do as he says, not as he did, when it comes to military service.
He mentioned Revolutionary War airports
Trump managed to squeeze one embarrassing gaffe into the speech, praising the Continental Army for taking over airports during the American Revolution.
There were, of course, no airports during the 18th century. Trump’s apparent misreading of the word “ports” resulted in some well-earned mockery.
The crowd was full of MAGA hats
Many of the people who braved the rain to see Trump speak were invited by the White House. The AP reports that aides were worried about a poor showing, so in recent days they scrambled to “distribute tickets and mobilize the Trump and GOP social media accounts to encourage participation for an event hastily arranged and surrounded with confusion.”
The result was a crowd full of Trump supporters who broke into chants of “Four more years” and “Lock her up.” They wore MAGA hats and QAnon T-shirts. They loved it.
But protesters were also everywhere
Trump’s so-called “Salute to America” was rife with controversy. Democratic lawmakers spoke out against it and the resistance was out in full force Thursday. They inflated the Baby Trump balloon.
They trotted out the Dumping Trump robot.
They burnt American flags and fought Trump supporters in front of the White House.
In general, everyone loved it (according to Trump)
Without referencing his gaffe directly, Trump insisted on Friday that he was plagued by technical difficulties. “The teleprompter did go out,” he said. “And it was actually hard to look at anyway because there was rain all over it.”
Nevertheless, Trump seemed to consider it a smashing success.
“Well, I can just tell you, those people that you see — there’s a lot of people in front of the White House — every one of them loved it,” Trump said. “I would actually say — and I want to sort of give a little appreciation — the media, generally speaking, loved it. They loved the evening. We had a lot of rain. I stood in the rain.”