Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Opinion: A parade of insecurities


So now he wants a parade.

You know who throws huge military parades for no real purpose? Countries that are insecure about their power and identity do.

Also, dictators do.

Dictators who equate a nation’s power with their own. Dictators who need to be flattered and groomed. Dictators who demand applause and cheers, and who treat the failure to applaud and cheer as some kind of treason.  Kim Jong Un of North Korea, to cite one example, is planning to throw himself a humdinger of a military parade on Thursday in Pyongyang, and I guess if Rocket Man gets to have a parade, Donald Trump gets to have a parade too, only bigger and better.

We’re talking row after row of tanks rumbling down the avenues of Washington, followed by legions of howitzers and armored personnel carriers, rocket launchers, mortars and anti-aircraft guns. F-35 flyovers, a Stealth bomber -- no, a fleet of Stealth bombers -- and attack helicopters, not to mention HUGE missiles, so long you wouldn’t believe how long.

No date for this extravaganza has yet been set, but Veterans Day has been proposed. As White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained it, “President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”

If that’s indeed the purpose -- if we want to honor veterans, those who fought for our country and sacrificed for our country -- then let’s do exactly that, and let’s do it in ways consistent with our civic culture. Instead of ostentatious shows of military armament, let’s take the many millions of dollars required to move all that equipment and active-duty personnel to Washington and then back to their posts and bases, and instead use it to transport tens of thousands of veterans to the nation’s capital. Let’s line the streets with their American fellow citizens and give them a rousing show of thanks. Maybe the president could even throw open the doors of the Trump Hotel to veterans needing a place to stay, as his own personal contribution. 

But as we all know, that’s not going to happen, because it’s not about them -- with Trump it’s never about them. This parade idea is about him. It’s about the ego stroking, the joy of watching all that military power parade by him, saluting him, celebrating him....

If we’re going to do this, though, let’s do it right.  And to do it right, Trump’s going to need a uniform. It will have to be a personalized commander-in-chief uniform, since I’m thinking that the uniform he wore back in the New York Military Academy might not fit so well these days. We’re also going to need yards and yards of gold braiding and lots of flair, what the military calls “fruit salad” or “chest candy.”

I’m thinking the Order of the Double Cross. A badge honoring Distinguished Service in the Conquest of Supermodels. The Combat Inaction medal, with Bone Spur Cluster and five Deferments. The Expert Sh**shooter badge. The Battle of Manhattan medal, marking his time as “a great and very brave soldier” in what he called his “personal Vietnam.”

As to the uniform itself, it has to be something special, made of a fabric created especially for this occasion. For that, I recommend reaching out to our friends in Denmark, one of our original NATO allies. As part of their contribution to the alliance, I’m sure they’ll be willing to provide the services of tailors with world-famous experience in this kind of thing.

Sean Hannity would find the presidential uniform utterly spectacular. Devin Nunes would draft a memo celebrating its manly beauty. The Trump Cabinet would convene a special meeting just to profess its admiration. Because if we as a nation are going to parade our insecurities for all the world to see, then so too should our president.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.