In a half-serious, half-tongue-in-cheek column arguing for abolition of the atavistic State of the Union address, I made this observation about our 45th president:
Does anyone doubt that if offered the alternatives of reviewing a huge military parade or getting to devote an entire evening to his Twitter account, the 45th president would give up SOTU in a New York minute?
He got through his big speech in relatively good form, at least as measured by snap polls. But now you have to wonder if his staff offered up a parade to get him to get up there to follow the teleprompters.
Trump was clearly impressed by a Bastille Day parade he witnessed in France last July, and started talking about staging something similar here. It’s going beyond talk, it seems:
President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces.
This isn’t just a random presidential wish that his underlings are trying to accommodate. It’s a big deal:
“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.”
Now you could react to these plans by saying it’s better to parade the military than to deploy it, as many of us fear Trump is also itching to do so long as he can find a “winning” theater of combat. But as his demonization of the NFL for tolerating national anthem protests has shown, Trump is also consistently committed to jingoism as a political strategy. So when Trump gets his wish, we can probably expect the biggest, most expensive, and most bellicose display of military power this side of Red Square in the Cold War era. And it’s a token of Trump’s obsession with this kind of militarism that he doesn’t even care that he’s reinforcing parallels between himself and his friends in Moscow.