After a week spent canoodling with his two favorite murderous dictators — Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un — even taking time to shake hands with his “good friend” Saudi Crown Prince Bone Saw (strictly platonic for now), Donald J. Trump made a triumphant return to U.S. soil ready to party. Even his slippery grasp of American history — “Liberal Democracy” was California cities run by liberals; bussing to achieve racial integration became essentially “how you get to school” — couldn’t tarnish the afterglow no matter how hard the “fake news” tried.
Already under the impression that he “alone” gave Americans the OK to say “Merry Christmas,” as though it once required permission, Trump’s sights are now firmly set on providing a Fourth of July celebration complete with a parade, marching bands, music and even fireworks. Despite his thundering, self-congratulatory exhortations of originality, this will be a party the likes of which Washington, D.C., has ... well ... always seen ... on every Independence Day for the last 50 years.
The president is commandeering the Capitol’s Fourth of July festivities as a not-so-thinly-veiled tribute to himself, announcing that the day will include a “major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite president, Me.” Apart from the logistical and security problems inherent in yet another presidential pep rally, officials are adding several minutes to the incendiary display. Why? To specifically allow he-of-fragile-ego to exuberantly pitch the show as “the biggest ever.” That’s pretty weird even by Trumpian standards, wherein he’s generally treated like an angry middle-schooler fiddling with a live hand grenade.
The president’s inner circle and GOP apologists spend a good deal of their time retooling government for the express purpose of making Trump’s monumental lies seem true (massive voter fraud, transgender military threat, Mueller is the real criminal, etc). Although they’re still lies by any reasonable measure, an unreasonable number of voters still myopically believe the hogwash he’s been peddling since before taking office. In fact, it’s even become somewhat of a litmus test for entry into the Republican Party.
Congressional Republicans appear complacent with their constituents’ willingness to pantomime brain dead at the president’s daily spew of preposterous exclamations. The anticipated 2020 GOP voter will undoubtedly believe the Trump tax cut benefited everyone and was the largest in history; that millions of people voted illegally in 2016, depriving Trump of a landslide victory; that there is a “deep State” conspiracy; that only 3% of migrants show up for court hearings (the real figure is closer to 80%); and that climate change is a hoax.
So exhausting have Trump’s individual lies become that most of them slip by, eliciting barely a shrug. But when gathered together to build the composite Republican voter, one American political party’s problem with veracity is brought sharply into focus. And whether or not Republicans actually believe the president’s nonsense doesn’t really matter. Their cowardly silence does the twofold job of encouraging the president’s mendacity while weakening our democracy with every new capitulation.
Getting back to Independence day ... which Trump sees exactly as he did Christmas: another holiday about something other than him, interrupting his vitally necessary quotient of adoration from the masses, or “His” people. The smart money suggests his perception, after having wrestled the Baby Jesus to the ground, is that bending the National Park Service to his will should be a snap, which may be an accurate assessment.
But considering his original plan, to orchestrate a Stalinesque military parade thundering down Pennsylvania Avenue on Veteran’s Day, complete with tanks and missiles, we’re getting off pretty easy, and it might actually turn out to be fun for a number of reasons, none of which Trump is likely to perceive, much less understand. The first of which is that it’s a very public venue, and rather than the hand-picked, carefully vetted, cheer-on-demand crowds he’s used to, this one may give him a generous helping of grief to temper the glory, laughing at the things he says that he doesn’t appear to realize are fundamentally idiotic.
Predictably, as the inflatable, diapered effigy known as “Baby Trump” flies high over the festivities, there might even be ground-level fireworks between the presidential fan base and the still rational portion of the populace. Perhaps the ghost of Sean Spicer will be whimpering “biggest crowd in history ... PERIOD!” from behind the shrubbery.
Even after the festivities wind down, Trump’s recent dictatorial charm offensive, including the first steps into North Korea by any American president, ensure us that the party’s just getting started, especially considering his unprecedented invitation for Chairman Kim to drop by the Oval Office, which sounds about as well thought out as inviting Pennywise to Barron’s next birthday.
And finally, putting any American misgivings about Kim visiting D.C. to rest, de facto ambassador to North Korea Dennis Rodman’s approved of the invitation: “Well done President Trump. You’re on the way to a historical meeting that no US president has ever done.” There’s a reason for that, Dennis ... Oh, look. Fireworks.
Walt Amses lives in North Calais.