President Donald Trump wants a “grand military parade” on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.
Why? Because he saw the Bastille Day military parade in Paris last year and liked it.
“We’re all aware in this country of the president’s affection and respect for the military,” says Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Wednesday. “We’ve been putting together some options. We will send them up to the White House for decision.”
The idea isn’t sitting well with District of Columbia officials.
“I don’t think anyone believes this would be about trying to honor men and women who serve our country,” says DC council member Charles Allen. “This would only be about feeding one man’s ego.”
Allen followed up with a tweet: “Military parade down the streets of DC to feed an insecure man’s fragile ego? That’s be a big no.”
Several members of Congress agree such a parade is neither needed or a good idea.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R. S.C.) calls such a parade “kind of cheesy and a sign of weakness.”
Adds Louisiana Republican Senator John Neely Kennedy: “America is the most powerful country in all of human history, everybody knows it, and we don’t need to show it off.”
Democratic Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders suggests, in a tweet: “Hey, Mr. President: Instead of copying Frances military parade, why not copy France’s health care system? Health care for all, low-cost prescription drugs, must less expensive.”
The last “military parade” that traveled down Pennsylvania Avenue came in 1991 after the end of the Gulf War to stop Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. It cost about $12 million along with other costs to the District that the federal government never repaid.
Trump is thinking about one for the Fourth of July.
“I came back (from watching the Bastille Day parade in France) and one of my early calls were ‘I think we are doing to have to start looking at that ourselves,'” Trump said at the United Nations last September. “We are actually thinking about Four of July, Pennsylvania, having a really great parade to show our military strength.”
On Capitol Hill Wednesday, it was hard to find any members of Congress enthusiastic about Trump’s idea of such a parade.
“A military parade like this — one that is unduly focused on a single person — is what authoritarian regimes do, not democracies,” said Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.
Most members of Congress, especially veterans, note that American military parades have followed the end of wars and U.S. troops are currently involved in actions around the globe with no end in sight.
“I’m not looking for a Soviet-style hardware display,” says Sen. Graham. “That’s not who we are.”
Paul Rieckhoff, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, reports widespread disgust by his members.
“This is not a popular idea,” he told Politico. “It’s overwhelmingly unpopular. Folks from all political backgrounds don’t think it is a good use of resources.”
Joes Walsh, a former Illinois Republican Congressman and now host of a conservative radio talk show, issued a stinging Twitter attack on the parade idea.
“Obama wasn’t a King. Trump isn’t a King either. My side needs to quit treating him like one. We don’t elect Kings in this country, remember? No military parade.”
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