President Donald Trump is said to be planning a grand military parade, in the style of the Bastille Day parade in Paris.
He is also said to have discussed the idea often, but it is only in recent days that the talk came to seem to the military brass around him to have turned into a marching order.
There seems to be some uncertainty about where the proposed parade would take place. The early assumption (on the Parisian analogy) was that it would take place in Washington DC. That assumption may have been hasty.
Right Wing View
Jack Novak, of CNBC, has described the idea as a “brilliant political move.” It is always a “real imperative for an incumbent … to keep and acknowledge the voters who got you in office in the first place.” Those voters, for Trump, are many of them serving in the military, or veterans, or at the least people who strongly identify with the military. The idea not only cements his identification with this base, it tempts the left into opposing the idea in a way that will enhance its isolation from such voters.
Supporters of the idea might point to 1991, when after the first Gulf War a large scale ($8 million) parade with hardware and troops did take place in Washington.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has taken the step that such an analogy would suggest. He has said the President should combine his call for a parade with a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Declare victory, bring the men and women in arms home, and THEN give them a great parade.
The Defense Secretary, James Mattis, said Wednesday, “I think we’re all aware in this country of the president’s affection and respect for the military.” The Pentagon is “putting together some options” as to how that respect might be expressed, and “We’ll send them up to the White House for a decision,” he added.
Left Wing View
Although as per our conventional left-right formulation of such disputes, we are here taking the anti-parade view to be the ‘left’ view, we should note that one doesn’t have to be very far left to be wary of this idea. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), reportedly said, “I think confidence is silent and insecurity is loud.” The parade, on this view, would not display the confidence in our armed forces that most Americans in fact possess. It would give the opposite signal.
Louisiana’s Kennedy supported Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Brian Kilmeade, host of the talk show “Fox & Friends” on Fox News, during a brief panel discussion of the idea of a parade, said Wednesday that it sounds to him like a “waste of money.”
Kilmeade is not notorious for his pacifism. Indeed, last September he ridiculed the beard of Bowe Bergdahl’s father, saying, “If you really don’t want to look like a member of the Taliban, you don’t have to … Are you out of razors?”
As for those who might more suitably be called “left wing,” their idea of the proposed parade has been quite bluntly worded. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) has said of Trump’s desire for a parade, “We have a Napoleon in the making here.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) asked a question on twitter and then offered his own answer, “You know what would be more useful than asking the Pentagon to waste money on a big military parade? Basically anything.”
John May tweets out his view in harsher language still, “The only parade I want to see in DC is the Trump Crime Family paraded out in handcuffs.”
Some on the left think that mere talk of the parade is a Trumpian plot to distract the country from more pressing issues. “Ok, Ok, parade bad, got it,” says one twitter denizen. “Now what are we not talking about? Russian sanctions unimplemented by Trump.”