Originally published Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 06:00a.m.
So President Donald Trump -- noted fiscal conservative, swamp-drainer, and compulsive saber-rattler -- wants a massive military parade through the streets of downtown Washington D.C.
Of course he does.
Last week, as Congress scrambled to avoid yet another shutdown, we learned that officials at the Pentagon and the White House are starting the planning for a display of military might that wouldn’t look out of place on the streets of Pyongyang, Moscow, Beijing or Berlin in 1939.
Trump’s desire for a parade, modeled on one he saw during a trip to France last year (Quelle horreur!) apparently emerged during a Jan. 18 meeting with senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known, fittingly enough, as “the tank,” The Washington Post reported.
In Trumplandia, everything is grand and great and huge and beautiful — like his “great military,” or the “beautiful chocolate cake,” he enjoyed with Chinese President Xi Jinping while he bragged about American airstrikes in Syria last year.
So it’s entirely logical, if entirely offensive, that Trump would glory in the sight of tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and other weaponry, along with soldiers, marching at attention and saluting, filling the streets of the nation’s capital.
Because Trump, as commander-in-chief, can order those soldiers to salute him.
Not so much for Democratic members of Congress, whom Trump accused of treason, for failing to stand and applaud during his State of the Union speech last week. What apparently eluded Trump was that his political opponents — from a co-equal branch of government — were exercising a constitutionally protected right to remain silent.
But for Trump, the Constitution is a technicality, a mere formality on the way to exercising his will. In any event, we now know that he nodded off after the Fourth Amendment, so there’s no actual proof that he’s conversant with the actual text.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear how the military would cover the cost of moving its equipment to Washington, an effort whose price-tag could run to the millions of dollars.
If Trump really wants to show his support for the military, he’d work with Congressional leaders to solve the perennial pickle over the passage of a defense appropriations bill.
As The Post reports, the government’s new fiscal year started Oct. 1, but Congress had, as of the start of last week, yet to pass a military funding bill.
The U.S. Senate approved two-year budget deal that would add more than a half-trillion dollars in federal spending. According to The New York Times, federal limits on military spending would be increased by $80 billion this year and by $85 billion in the new fiscal year that starts this Oct. 1.
Defense Secretary James Mattis told a Congressional committee this week that the military needs “predictability” in its funding if it’s going to flourish.
“Let me be clear: as hard as the last 16 years of war have been, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact of the Budget Control Act’s defense spending caps, worsened by operating in 10 of the last 11 years under continuing resolutions of varied and unpredictable duration,” Mattis, a former Marine general, said, according to The Post.
With those kind of problems looming, it makes zero sense for the military to spend an indeterminate amount of money to simply gratify the whims of the 45th president.
There are far better ways for Trump to show he cares about the military. Putting the nation in the same company as our strategic rivals and outright adversaries isn’t one of them.
An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at email@example.com.