‘President @realDonaldTrump’s ego is so large that he’s holding this Fourth of July campaign rally in a desperate cry for attention, and everyone knows it…’
(AFP) Tanks in the heart of Washington, fighter jets screaming overhead, and a speech from the Lincoln Memorial: President Donald Trump is promising the “show of a lifetime” as he prepares to turn the Fourth of July into a prime-time extravaganza.
The commander-in-chief and veteran showman—widely known for rejecting the protocols of the Washington, DC, establishment—plans to put his own spin the conventional Independence Day fare.
Our July 4th Salute to America at the Lincoln Memorial is looking to be really big. It will be the show of a lifetime!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2019
His partisan critics on the Left immediately set to work bitterly bombarding the president with claims that he was hijacking the holiday and turning the celebration into a re-election campaign event.
However, Trump remained positive and upbeat on Twitter, emphasizing the many reasons the country has to celebrate.
“We have the greatest economy anywhere in the world. We have the greatest military anywhere in the world. Not bad!” he added.
At around 6:30 p.m., Trump will take to the hallowed steps of the Lincoln Memorial for an unprecedented “Salute to America” event that will include a televised address, military hardware and a giant fireworks display. The nation’s top military brass will have a front row seat.
The modified Boeing 747 used as Air Force One will fly over, as will noisy, powerful warplanes expected to include F-35s, and jets from the Navy’s Blue Angels air show team.
A handful of tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles are stationed near the Lincoln Memorial, although the enormous machines are not expected to roll, as their tracks would likely tear up city streets.
The center of attention, however, will not be the weapons. Or the nearly million dollars’ worth of fireworks that are in the works, a donation from two big manufacturers.
Rather, it will be Trump.
“Your favorite President, me!” he tweeted when announcing the show.
Non-partisan no more
Usually, July 4 works as a kind of national ceasefire— hyper-patriotic, but free from usual Republican–Democratic fighting and far more civic than military in nature.
“It’s a day when people can set aside their polarized differences … and raise the flag without entering into political discussions,” said Rich Hanley, a media and popular culture expert at Quinnipiac University. “Then on the 5th they go back to normal.”
But this year, Democrats—whose already historically low sense of patriotism and national pride seems to have bottomed out in recent polling—complain that the familiar script is being given a rewrite.
Disregarding the polarizing effect of their own political figureheads, they complained that Trump threatened to ruin their holiday fun.
They held that Trump is supported by just over 40 percent of the country ahead of his 2020 reelection bid and fervently opposed by much of the remaining electorate.
According to RealClear Politics, Trump’s average 42.5 percent approval is slightly lower than that of his predecessor, Barack Obama, although his disapproval numbers on average have been higher than Obama’s at a similar point in his presidency.
Obama’s approval and disapproval numbers closely resembled Trump’s current numbers in the middle years of his second term.
Trump’s opponents have reached a level of viciousness, however, unseen during the Obama years, when critics on the Right maintained respectful boundaries of decorum despite sharp policy disagreements.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took to Twitter on Wednesday to ensure that the partisan overtones that have come to define the current Congressional term received no reprieve for the national holiday.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 3, 2019
Likewise, radical leftist protesters plan to bring their own kind of political spectacle to the National Mall, as they have reflexively on many occasions to voice their disdain of Republican leadership.
Activist organization Code Pink is deploying its “Baby Trump” blimp, a large inflated doll depicting the president in nappies.
But the National Park Service denied permission to fill the inflatable with helium due to airspace restrictions in the capital, so it will have to stay on the ground.
On Wednesday, one Code Pink activist held a sign near an armored vehicle that read “Tanks But No Tanks,” and #BoycottTrumps4thOfJuly was trending on Twitter.
Many Trump critics were up in arms about what the event would cost. The White House has refused to say so far.
“Instead of addressing something like veteran homelessness, he’s spending it on boosting his ego with a parade that’s fundamentally about him,” said Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro. “What a waste of money.”
Castro, like many of the current Democratic presidential contenders seems far less concerned about cost when it comes to proposing extreme socialist spending policies such as Medicare for All, which he would extend to illegal immigrants as well as U.S. citizens.
The Democrats have declined to come up with specific policy proposals for how they would make the program affordable, although many have endorsed eliminating private insurance to make it mandatory.
Salesman, showman, president
Trump, the former host of “The Apprentice,” is tapping his considerable showmanship skills ahead of the event.
Just being up on the Lincoln Memorial will guarantee unbeatable pictures.
The statue honoring civil war president Abraham Lincoln is famous as the location for Martin Luther King Jr’s epic 1963 “I have a dream” speech.
But Trump’s inspiration appears to be taken less from that civil rights cry than a Bastille Day military parade he attended in 2017 as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron.
So impressed was Trump that he came up with the idea of putting on a major extravaganza for Veteran’s Day, which is marked on Nov. 11. But an outcry over the almost $100 million price tag meant it had to be scrapped.
Now he’ll get a scaled-back version.
As he prepared for the big day Trump downplayed the issue of expense on Twitter.
The cost of our great Salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth. We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2019
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.
© Agence France-Presse