Echoing the concerns of many of their colleagues, the panel on Tuesday’s edition of Morning Joe had hyperbolic analysis of President Trump’s planned “salute to America” in honor of Independence Day. No one on the panel had harsher rhetoric than The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson, who invoked a tired comparison of President Trump to a dictator while slamming the idea of a President addressing the nation on its birthday as “awful.”
Guest host Willie Geist began the discussion on the “Salute to America” by announcing that “President Trump has requested an array of military vehicles, including tanks and fighter jets, to be showcased” at the event, in addition to mentioning that the President will give an address at the Lincoln Memorial. Geist played a clip of President Trump talking about how “we’re going to have planes going overhead; the best fighter jets in the world, and other planes too” while stressing that they have to be “pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks so we have to put them in certain areas.”
Geist proceeded to let Robinson go on a rant about the “Salute to America.” After describing how Independence Day festivities typically unfold in the Nation’s Capital, Robinson slammed President Trump for making Washington, DC’s annual Fourth of July festivities into “a combination Trump rally and Kim Jong-un style military parade.”
Robinson was hardly the only talking head to use the “Salute to America” as an excuse to compare President Trump to a dictator and/or compare the idea of the event to something that would take place in an authoritarian country. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and his panel bashed the President’s plans as “un-American” and something that would take place in the former Soviet Union while CNN’s April Ryan said that the President put on the “Salute to America” for the purpose of “looking like a dictator.”
Robinson took the conversation a step further by appearing to trash the idea that any President would address the nation on the Fourth of July because God forbid America’s leader address the nation on Independence Day: “Presidents don’t speak at the Fourth of July...It’s the people’s day. It’s not the President’s day. He’s trying to turn it into something else...I think it’s awful.”
After Robinson finished his tirade, Geist stressed that “the White House is trying to assure Americans that the President’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial will not be a political one” before editorializing that “I think we’ve learned over time he’s incapable of that.” Geist did, however, have to admit that “his speech at the D-Day remembrance” was apolitical.
At this point, NBC News National Political Reporter Heidi Przybyla jumped into the conversation and alleged that “ever since he saw the Bastille Day celebration in France,” President Trump wanted “his own self-tribute” before predicting “that is what this is going to turn into.” It seems like the media always want to attribute the worst possible motives to President Trump; rather than entertaining the idea that he might simply want to celebrate America.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Tuesday’s edition of Morning Joe is below. Click “expand” to read more.
WILLIE GEIST: Meanwhile, this week, President Trump is preparing for an all-out show of power to celebrate the Fourth of July. President Trump has requested an array of military vehicles, including tanks and fighter jets, to be showcased to the “Salute to America” event in Washington on Thursday evening. The President has taken it upon himself to arrange the festivities including his own speech from the Lincoln Memorial with military flyovers but many details have not yet been determined now with just days to go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: So “Salute to America” and I’m going to be here and I’m going to say a few words and we’re going to have planes going overhead; the best fighter jets in the world, and other planes too. And we’re going to have some tanks stationed outside. Got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks so we have to put them in certain areas but we have the brand-new Sherman tanks and we have the brand-new Abram tanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Engineers have canvassed the Lincoln Memorial to determine whether the weight of the military vehicles might ruin the historic site. That’s according to The Washington Post. The Post reports the price tag for this event could be in the millions of dollars; just for the air power alone. Gene Robinson, so at the end of the day, when you get out there on the 4th of July, what’s this thing going to look like?
EUGENE ROBINSON: Oh, Willie, don’t get me started on this.
GEIST: Go for it, man.
ROBINSON: I mean, if you, if you raised…no, if you raised kids in the Washington area you know about the Fourth of July in Washington and it is a glorious day. It’s a…it’s a, there’s…there’s like a fairly cheesy but wonderful patriotic music show on the steps of the Capitol, there’s people filling the mall; America in its, in its glorious diversity, all kinds of, of people and it…and it’s not a political day. It’s a, it’s a day for, for patriotism. And then you have the fireworks. And usually it’s like cloudy and often you just see sort of diffuse flashes of colored light above, ahead and it’s a terrible traffic jam. It’s just…it’s glorious, it’s wonderful, it’s…it’s one of the best days of the year in Washington despite the fact that it’s usually 95 degrees and to, and to take this and to make it into what seems to be kind of a combination Trump rally and Kim Jong-un style military parade of, of hardware and equipment with Sherman tanks; which is ridiculous. The last Sherman tank, I think was, was…
ROBINSON: …taken out of service in 1957.
ROBINSON: But, but it’s just obscene. It, it really is. And I just…I just hope it doesn’t spoil the whole day. I mean, of course they’re going to try to have the biggest fireworks ever, well that’s okay. But, but presidents don’t speak at the fourth of July. They…they, it’s the people’s day. It’s not the President’s day. And…and he’s trying to turn it into something else. And, and I just think it’s, it’s…I think it’s awful.
GEIST: Heidi, the White House is trying to assure Americans that the President’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial will not be a political one. I think we’ve learned over time he’s incapable of that, save, I will say, for his speech at the D-Day remembrance last month or a few weeks ago.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA: That’s right. And we all know, this is his favorite part of the job, Willie. Let’s…I think this is the part where we remind everybody that right before he came to the White House, he was a show host and this is his favorite part of the job, is choreographing these types of shows. He wanted, ever since he saw the Bastille Day celebration in France, his own self-tribute. And that is what this is going to turn into. But at what cost? And if you read down in that story, you’ll see that this is really problematic to the D.C. City Council for several reasons. They’re studying what the impact would be of the weight of said tanks on, for instance, the foundations of the Lincoln Memorial. The pyrotechnic display unlike any we’ve seen on the mall before is going to come at a great cost. He wants a military flyover. Again, some of these jets cost $30,000 an hour to operate and then there’s the question of freezing air traffic. We’ve never had that before; where now we’re just talking about the entire air traffic operation at Reagan National having to shut down for two hours and so, the question is really at what cost is this going to come? Of course, the #MAGA crowd will be there and will be reveling in it but for everybody else and for people, you know, who Gene mentioned, who have done this years and years with kids, this is going to…this is just going to be a very different experience.