McFeatters: Spend money on troops, not parade
What this country needs is a massive, costly, super-extravagant military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue with tanks, fighter flyovers, bands, horses and hundreds of uniformed high-stepping troops all saluting their commander-in-chief, Donald Trump.
It would cost at least $22 million, divert training and be highly unpopular in the military, which considers such large displays a waste of time, but it’s what Trump wants. What Trump wants, Trump gets.
Ever since Trump was feted at the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris, he’s coveted one like it. Actually, bigger and better. “We’re going to have to try to top it,” Trump assured French President Emmanuel Macron.
Trump was sent to military boarding school but never served in the military, getting an exemption for bone spurs. But he claims great affection for the military and has expanded combat troops in Afghanistan, threatened North Korea, and vowed to spend a whopping $716 billion on the military. No other country is history has ever spent that much on its military. The White House says Trump is “incredibly supportive” of the nation’s service members.
Trump also has resolved to beef up the nation’s nuclear arsenal after decades of arms agreements to reduce nukes worldwide. He famously tweeted about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his and my Button works!”
But we digress. Back to the parade.
It sounds as if Trump envisions something monumental — flyovers, tanks, weapons displays, well-rehearsed marching units. Martial encomiums that would go on for two hours.
The irony is that Trump did not enjoy his own Inaugural Day parade. He complained there were not enough A-list celebrities. He appeared visibly angry and put-out during the entire parade. He was upset that former President Obama’s inauguration had three times as many people as his did and there were many empty seats in Trump’s reviewing stands.
Trump told the generals he is thinking of his military parade for Memorial Day or July Fourth but the Pentagon is holding out for Nov. 11, when it at least would have a purpose of recognizing the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
The White House says Trump just wants to honor the military, not himself. The military would probably rather not have to get ready for a parade but would prefer better domestic support for families, better equipment (yes, soldiers still have to provide much of their own), time to train, better care for veterans, higher pay and, above all, serious help for those who have been in combat and return with PTSD.
Trump’s desire is treated as an order from the commander in chief. Defense Secretary James Mattis said the Pentagon is preparing options. There could be a cheaper, less-time-consuming option. What is the chance Trump the Showman would choose that one?
We have the world’s best military. Do we really need a parade to prove it?