Bob Franken


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Ever since he made that trip to Paris in July 2017, President Trump has tried to steal Bastille Day. Trump watched all the grandeur of the French national day — accumulated over 230 years since the storming of the Bastille — and saw it, as he always does, as a personal branding opportunity.
First, he promoted the idea of a massive parade, perhaps on Veterans Day, in the fall, featuring the U.S. armed forces and most of all featuring him. He’d review the troops from a special platform, just like the French president does. That plan never got off the drawing board for logistical and expense reasons, and because it was laughed out of the room. Plus, let’s face it: France has better cheese than we do. That was merely a challenge to Donald Trump’s “America First” cheesiness. One might have thought that his attempted display of ostentatious narcissism would be a lesson learned. One definitely would be wrong.

Let’s take an ego trip two years forward. Now we learn that the idea was never dropped at all. Instead, we discover that he has ordered a revamping of the July Fourth celebration in the nation’s capital, the one that has been tried and tested by officials over 70 years of experience. It features a showbiz concert by today’s big celebrities, a performance by the National Symphony, a fireworks spectacular and, most importantly, security and massive logistical procedures. Check that: Most importantly, it has been nonpolitical, just patriotism on Independence Day.
However, never, ever underestimate the persistence of Donald Trump’s self-aggrandizement. In his typical if-it-ain’t-broke-break-it mode, he has ordered up his own show. Plans are not finalized, but he’s moving everything around D.C. What isn’t yet determined is when and where he’ll make his address. Officially he hasn’t scheduled his speech, but if there’s anybody who doesn’t believe he’ll deliver one, I have some shares in a Trump-built casino to sell you.
D.C. officials are horrified, and not just because they’re Democrats and face the prospect of a crowd of a few thousand Trump supporters, like at his inauguration. It’s also because they’ve got the get-em-in/get-em-out routine down pat. They know exactly where to set up a bunch of portable toilets on the National Mall, just like they always have in the places where people seek relief. Law enforcement types know precisely where to establish their barriers, and mass transit officials can plan for the crush of passengers, not that the Metro is so predictably reliable, but the planning is the same year to year.
There’s a minimum of confusion. But Donald Trump despises a minimum of confusion; he thrives on chaos, almost as much as he does on the spotlight being on him.
By the way, did anybody take note of the date the French celebrate their nation? It’s anniversary of the day their ancestors stormed the Bastille in 1789, the same year the United States began governing under the newly ratified Constitution, that operating manual for the nation enacted a few years after the Declaration of Independence began our successful rebellion.
We can anticipate Trump’s speech: America is great again because he has ignored the incompetent founders’ handiwork. What a silly idea balance of power is, he’ll thunder. Who needs Congress; who needs the courts? They just get in the way. So, on this day that we celebrate the Declaration of Independence, let’s declare independence from Democrats and those “enemies of the people” in the media. Actually, that won’t be what he’ll say — he doesn’t have to.
Who knew back in 1776 that the new American revolution would be fought not over the “unalienable rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” but the requirement to celebrate Donald Trump?

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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