Op-ed: Reign on my parade

  • By Bob Franken
  • Sunday, February 11, 2018 9:35am
  • Opinion

You know, there is such negativity out there. All President Donald Trump did was order his Pentagon higher-ups to put together a massive parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, and the critics began their sniping. The Washington Post, which broke the story, reported that POTUS watched the Bastille Day parade in Paris last July and envisioned a huge military spectacle here, “bigly” even, one that would show off America’s military might on the next Veterans Day. Some ridiculed the idea that he presumably would be standing on a big reviewing stand as the parade passed by, with most of the attention focused on … well … him. He’d be above the fray. Except that he is the fray. But never mind that: He’s commander in chief, so the generals simply saluted smartly and said, “Yes, Sir!”

There has been no shortage of snarky comments since the Post article came out: Such displays of armed forces and their weaponry might be good for France, which, after all, is always trying to let the world know of its glory, past and present, real or imagined. The grumbling here is that the United States doesn’t need such an extravaganza, that it’s beneath the dignity of the planet’s majorest superpower. Besides, not counting France, that kind of thing is really more common in autocracies, big and small. Russia puts on a splendid one. And so does North Korea, which just did one to mark the start of the Winter Olympics. Philadelphia did another to mark the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, but that featured just a few busloads of players … and huge crowds … way bigger than showed up for the Trump inauguration. Just sayin’.

But that was then. This is now, and wouldn’t all that naysaying energy be put to better use trying to make it work? I mean really, isn’t it time to be positive? Never mind that Veterans Day falls on Nov. 11, five days after Election Day this year. Easy-beezy. Surely there’s an executive order for that, moving it to the Sunday before, just in case this really was a political stunt. Of course, the very thought of that would be soooooo cynical.

And why must this humongous display of patriotism be limited to the armed forces? We can get that at any ballgame. Why not invite the Russians, since they’ve become such an integral part of this country’s election process? Vladimir Putin could join his BCF (best comrade forever) Donald Trump on the reviewing stand, even if his country brings only one unit to the parade. Call it the Collusion Brigade.

They would join the paramilitary forces of the alt-right, who would carry their Tiki torches to demonstrate their loyalty to the Trump presidency. Imagine Stephen Bannon returning as the grand marshal. Of course, he’d not be dressed like one. As for President Trump, he will have to decide whether he’d openly return their unique salute. Chief of staff John Kelly obviously would. This Deplorable Battalion would be the biggest unit of all — heavily armed, of course.

What would make this parade unique would be all the deep staters who would be surrounded by a “big, beautiful wall.” They’d include all the fake newsies, Bob Mueller and his crowd of investigators, and for that matter, everyone from the intelligence community: the CIA, FBI, all those people. Of course, you’d want to round up the federal judges who refuse to rubber-stamp all the radical policy initiatives of this administration. You’d need to exclude anyone who speaks Spanish and all who had ever set foot in a “s***hole country.”

But we absolutely must make room for Congress, which will be invited to send all the members. They’ll be stepping out, as usual, in all directions, hundreds of politicians displaying their close-order back-stabbing drills. The Democrats, as is their normal practice, would simply refuse to show up.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this exercise in saber rattling would be touted as a tribute to our military. As the thousands in uniform and their hardware turned Pennsylvania Avenue into mincemeat, many, perhaps most of them, would be thinking, “I’m marching for THIS!?”

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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