Trump avoided politics, but his over-the-top glorification of the military felt more Moscow than Washington, DC.

If you were worried President Donald Trump would use his July 4 “Salute to America” event as an opportunity to blast Democrats or the FBI in front of the Lincoln Memorial, you can rest easy. During the rain-soaked event, Trump avoided partisan politics, and instead focused on glorifying the US military — occasionally in completely and amusingly ahistorical ways.

At one point Trump, struggling to read his speech, claimed that the US military “took over the airports” during the War of 1812’s Battle of Fort McHenry, which of course took place about a century before airplanes were even invented.

The substance of Trump’s speech largely consisted of him detailing memorable moments from US military history, then pausing for flyovers while a military band played. The tanks Trump controversially demanded be a part of the event were parked somewhat inconspicuously around the stage.

Trump vowed to “plant the American flag on Mars” and urged young people to “join our military and make a truly great statement in life. And you should do it.” What Trump didn’t mention, of course, was that he infamously received a number of draft deferments that allowed him to avoid serving during his youth.

Downpours in Washington DC earlier during the day on Thursday led some to surmise the “Salute to Service” event would draw a relatively small crowd and end up being a reprise of his inauguration. But in the end a decent audience turned out.

Screengrab via CSPAN

Predictably, Trump took to Twitter to celebrate the crowd size shortly after his speech ended.

Still, however, the rain produced the less-than-ideal visual of Trump delivering a speech behind a wet protective enclosure.

Screengrab via CSPAN

Although Trump’s speech was inoffensive, he did boast that “our nation is stronger today than it ever was before” and touted his “Space Force.” And considering the Trump administration’s fight against reproductive and LGBT rights and his own equivocal comments about white supremacists, his invocation of the women’s suffrage movement and Martin Luther King, Jr. as things Americans should be proud of on July 4 fell flat.

As was the case with the D-Day commemoration speech he delivered last month in France, Trump “Salute to America” address wasn’t altogether terrible, but he was the wrong person to deliver it. His deification of the military also felt more like something you’d see in Pyongyang or Moscow then along the National Mall in Washington, DC.

But at least Trump didn’t use the Lincoln Memorial as a prop to deliver the campaign-style screed some expected. Such are the things that qualify as normal in the Trump era.


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