There was a flyover of military jets, a display of fighting vehicles, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, a speech from the president and the greatest fireworks show every visited upon a Fourth of July celebration in Washington.
But the mainstream media refused to view any of this as an upgrade to the usual, hard-to-see, traffic-plagued, martial music-infused celebrations that have taken place every year in Washington for decades.
“America the Desecrated,” reads the headline on Lili Loofbourow’s story on Slate. “Our president has turned our most patriotic holiday into an endorsement of cruelty,” reads the subhead.
The president wants to project images of the Apollo 11 moon landing onto national monuments, Loofbourow wrote, and this reminded her of Richard Nixon’s use of the word “peace” so frequently in the moments before and after the moon landing. “Here Men from the Planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 AD. We came in peace for all mankind,” read a plaque on the lunar module.
“But as things stand today, the word” … is “powerfully foreign. The president, who stakes his legitimacy on demonizing the majority of the country that doesn’t support him, is putting tanks on America’s streets on its most patriotic holiday in an effort to yoke love of country to love of himself.”
The president tried before “to turn a holiday into a militaristic display with himself as drum major,” but the “$92 million price tag provoked public outrage and sank the effort. This time, the administration is refusing to say what Trump’s circus of vanity will cost.”
At the New York Times, the headline on its story by Michael Shear and Thomas Gibbons-Neff read: “Washington Prepares for a July 4 Spectacle, Starring and Produced by President Trump.” It accused the president of assembling troops to “create a made-for-television moment in which the nation’s commander in chief is surrounded by the forces that he leads.”
Trump’s “decision to turn Washington’s annual Fourth of July celebration into a kind of Trump-branded rally for America has drawn criticism from Democrats, top representatives of the city government and many military officials who believe the president is using the troops and their gear as political props.”
To buttress the claim the military was upset, it produced one quote from one retired general who left service in the White House under less-than-ideal terms, saying, “Put troops out there so we can thank them – leave tanks for Red Square.”
Joy Reid of MSNBC argued the tanks were in place to send a message – not to tyrants “he likes tyrants; he loves tyrants … Is it to our friends … Western democracies whom he doesn’t particularly like? Or is it to us? To the resistance in this country? ‘I’ve got tanks. I’ve got this military armada. The message is a threat – it’s always a threat when you roll out your military. But to whom is the threat? I suspect the threat is to his fellow Americans. I hate to say that, but I think Donald Trump styles himself a tyrant, not a defeater of tyrants.”
Michael Steele, former head of the Republican National Committee, can be seen nodding in agreement during Reid’s remarks.
CNN wrote that “If the president turns what is meant to be a celebration into an overtly political event, he could put military personnel in the position of violating Defense Department guidelines prohibiting men and women in uniform from engaging in political activity.”
Other anonymous military officials “had reservations about putting tanks or other armored vehicles on display,” Jim Sciutto and Nicole Gaouette reported in “Military chiefs have concerns about politicization of Trump’s July 4th event.”
Not one military official is quoted in the story about these “concerns,” but Jordan Libowitz of the liberal Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is, saying “if they come to stand next to him for a political speech while in uniform, representing the military, it could be a problem.”