U.S. presidents traditionally have been hands-off when it comes to the Fourth of July so as to avoid politicizing commemorations of the nation’s birth. But not Donald Trump, whose decision to insert himself in Washington, D.C.’s annual celebration with a speech at the Lincoln Memorial and an elaborate display of military might had the hashtag #BoycottTrump4thOfJuly trending Wednesday.
As the New York Times’ Michelle Cottle noted last month, the last president to make any kind of presentation at a July Fourth event was Richard Nixon in 1970, when he videotaped remarks to be shown on the National Mall.
But this year, Trump is planning an extravaganza, perhaps inspired by, as Newsweek reports,
a trip to Paris where he watched a Bastille Day celebration in 2017. But the presence of tanks on the streets of the nation’s capital has sparked unflattering comparisons with the sorts of displays put on by authoritarian regimes in North Korea and China.
Branding the event “Salute to America,” Trump is promising “the show of a lifetime,” with a speech at the Lincoln Memorial accompanied by a display of various military tanks, airplane flyovers and a larger-than-usual fireworks display, USA Today reports.
Adding to critics’ outrage are the administration’s decision to give VIP tickets to Republican donors and political appointees, according to the Washington Post, as well as the diversion of $2.5 million in National Park Service funds to the event.
However, Trump, perhaps not unexpectedly, is brushing off the controversy, as the Washington Examiner notes, tweeting: