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Trump parade’s potential downside



Trump’s much-touted military parade “is political genius,” as Matt Latimer writes in Politico, It confronts Democrats with two options, both unpalatable: they can “stand apart and oppose it,” thereby standing on the receiving end of accusations as the anti-military party. Or they can complain about its potential cost—many millions of dollars—thus appearing as “killjoys” unwilling to spend a little money f0r h0noring our brave men and women in the armed forces.

I agree that Trump has put Democrats in “a pretty clever trap.” Americans by and large love the military; in the most recent poll I could find, 73% of adults expressed “confidence” in the military, “higher than [for] any other institution.” Trump has, of course, constantly portrayed himself as strongly pro-military (to me, an obvious political ploy aimed at his white male, rural base), so his parade is all of a piece with that patriotic image.

It’s a Republican slur that Democrats are anti-military. Sure, there are wackos on the far left that hate the military, but the overwhelming majority of Democrats favor a strong military, just as FDR, Kennedy and all subsequent Democratic presidents have. But Democrats also tend to believe that the Pentagon gets too much money, relative to other arms of the U.S. government, at the expense of domestic needs. This surely is a reasonable position. But Republicans smell blood in the water every time they can bash Democrats on the military—which is exactly what Trump is doing with this parade.

Democrats can’t stop it from happening, even though many military leaders themselves oppose it. I love this remark, on Twitter, from retired Major-General Paul Eaton: “For someone who just declared it was ‘treasonous’ not to applaud him, it is clear that a military parade isn’t about saluting the military—it’s about making a display of the military saluting him.” Eaton by the way is a senior advisor to a group representing more than 500,000 veterans, VoteVets, which @realDonaldTrump just blocked on Twitter because they had the temerity to oppose some of his policies.

Still, Dems won’t win on the parade, so they might as well shut up about it and let Trump take a little victory lap. Pelosi, Schumer and other Democratic leaders ought to show up for it (if it actually happens), salute the troops, and stand next to Trump, should he happen to invite them. It won’t be the Democrats’ greatest moment, but the parade will be forgotten by the American people the next day, and then take its place in the annals of history as one of the more bizarre ornamentations of the Trump regime.

Besides, there’s a potential upside to this for Democrats. Most Americans already view Trump as a self-promoting authoritarian, with little respect for our institutions of democracy. Photographs and videos of him standing on the podium, with his chin thrust out like Mussolini, as M1 Abrams tanks and B-1B bombers trundle past down Constitution Avenue, will go over well with his white base. But independents are likely to think he looks ridiculous.

In fact, for someone as acutely sensitive to his image as Trump is, it’s odd that he would set himself up as an American Duce, which he surely will be portrayed as (with the inevitable photos of Mussolini hanging from a lamppost).

That’s Mussolini on the left. His mistress is on the right.

I wonder if Gen. Kelly or anyone else in the White House attempted to warn Trump of this risk. Trump’s parade may cost him far more than he stands to gain.

Have a great weekend!



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