MSNBC: ‘Strong Man’ Trump’s July 4th Like Soviet May Day Parade

During the 11:00 a.m. ET hour on Wednesday, MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin led a panel discussion in which one guest after another rushed to paint President Trump’s upcoming July 4th event on the national mall as a scene reminiscent of a Soviet-era May Day Parade in Moscow’s Red Square led by “a president who very much wants to be seen as a strong man.”

Turning to presidential historian and Trump critic Mark Updegrove, Melvin worried: “How unusual is it to have a military display and for a president to speak from the mall in the way that he is reportedly going to on Independence Day? Unprecedented or not?” Updegrove was perfectly be teed up to rant:

 

 

Well, like almost everything this president does, this is unprecedented. This is the kind of military display we were used to seeing from the Soviet Union on Red Square on May Day. This is not the kind of thing we do as a nation. We show fireworks, we have parades, but we don’t show our military hardware to the nation and to the world. I think this is a president who very much wants to be seen as a strong man, not only to his own citizens, but to citizens of the world. So it’s not surprising that Donald Trump would want to do a display like this.

Moments later, Democratic Virginia Congressman Don Beyer eagerly agreed with Updegrove’s nasty comparison: “I thought the historian put it out well. When I think of tanks and troops walking down the middle, I’m thinking Red Square, North Korea, Egypt, not the United States...”

As the one-sided discussion continued, Melvin touted a new Gallup poll showing “45% of folks who are polled are ‘extremely proud’ to be an American.” He noted: “That’s the second straight year of the sub-50% readings. That percentage has been weakening in recent years.” The anchor asked Washington Post opinion writer and anti-Trump crusader Jennifer Rubin to explain what she thought was the cause of such waning patriotism. Predictably, she found one person to blame:

I think people are deeply disturbed with what this president has been doing to our democratic institutions. To the rule of law, to separation of powers, his disrespect for the First Amendment, calling the press the enemy of the people. For better or worse, the President of the United States embodies the country to some degree. He is both the head of state and the head of government. And when people look at Donald Trump as their representative on the world stage, they are not proud of him. They find him tacky, they find him crude, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, you can go down the list. And I think that deeply worries people.

Rubin of course then joined in fretting over Trump becoming a militaristic dictator:

Seeing tanks on the mall has the appearance that Washington is an occupied city. We put tanks on the street when there’s a civil uprising, when there’s a calamity of some type. There is not. And Donald Trump doesn’t get that this is not a symbol of pride or of America, but that this is a deeply disturbing sign that he is politicizing the military and militarizing the politics of our country.

The Wednesday morning discussion echoed similar hysteria on Tuesday night’s Hardball, where host Chris Matthews and a line of liberal pundits feared the “un-American” event would mirror “propaganda during the Cold War, all choreographed to project military might, even as they fought a losing battle with the world of ideas and as those dictators.”

Here are excerpts of the July 3 panel discussion:

11:06 AM ET

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CRAIG MELVIN: Mark, give us some perspective here. How unusual is it to have a military display and for a president to speak from the mall in the way that he is reportedly going to on Independence Day? Unprecedented or not?

MARK UPDEGROVE [PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN]: Well, like almost everything this president does, this is unprecedented. This is the kind of military display we were used to seeing from the Soviet Union on Red Square on May Day. This is not the kind of thing we do as a nation. We show fireworks, we have parades, but we don’t show our military hardware to the nation and to the world. I think this is a president who very much wants to be seen as a strong man, not only to his own citizens, but to citizens of the world. So it’s not surprising that Donald Trump would want to do a display like this.

MELVIN: Congressman Beyer, you represent Virginia’s 8th District, home of the Pentagon, you’re just across the river from Washington, D.C. What's your objection to what the President has planned for the Fourth?

REP. DON BEYER [D-VA]: Melvin, I have three big. First, that he’s taking something that’s always been bipartisan. You know, I grew up in the city and my dad would load the six kids of us, take us down to the mall with the blanket and the picnic basket, and now it’s turned into this major partisan thing. I’m still encouraging our folks to go because I don’t want it to be divisive.

I also really object to the militarization. I thought the historian put it out well. When I think of tanks and troops walking down the middle, I’m thinking Red Square, North Korea, Egypt, not the United States, where we’re going to spend three-quarters of a trillion dollars actually on our military. Everyone knows we’re the most powerful military in the world.

(...)

11:10 AM ET

MELVIN: Jennifer, I want to call your attention to this survey. There’s a survey of American pride. It’s from Gallup. And according to the survey, 45% of folks who are polled are “extremely proud” to be an American. That’s the second straight year of the sub-50% readings. That percentage has been weakening in recent years. To what do you attribute the drop?

JENNIFER RUBIN [WASHINGTON POST]: Well, first of all, I won’t be going to the mall and it will be in protest. So good for the Congressman, he’s a better person than I.

I think people are deeply disturbed with what this president has been doing to our democratic institutions. To the rule of law, to separation of powers, his disrespect for the First Amendment, calling the press the enemy of the people. For better or worse, the President of the United States embodies the country to some degree. He is both the head of state and the head of government. And when people look at Donald Trump as their representative on the world stage, they are not proud of him. They find him tacky, they find him crude, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, you can go down the list. And I think that deeply worries people.

And I think you see that in the Democratic presidential race, where these people are essentially running on a platform to restore American values of decency, inclusiveness, generosity, community. Because we haven’t gotten that from this president. He’s notoriously awful on these moments when you look to the president to heal, to bring us together. He’s the anti-uniter. And this is just one more display.

It’s also really a contempt for government. This is the mother of all Hatch Act violations. This is using the taxpayers’ money, the taxpayers’ property really for his own vanity. And whether it’s a legal violation or not, it is so unseemly.

And I would just add one final thing. Seeing tanks on the mall has the appearance that Washington is an occupied city. We put tanks on the street when there’s a civil uprising, when there’s a calamity of some type. There is not. And Donald Trump doesn’t get that this is not a symbol of pride or of America, but that this is a deeply disturbing sign that he is politicizing the military and militarizing the politics of our country.

(...)

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