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  • February 8th, 2018

I LOVE A PARADE

By Joel M. Vance

In 1932 there was an animated movie short called “I Love a Parade” which featured a parade of sideshow acts including the wild boy, the rubber man, Siamese twin pigs, a tattooed man, a hula dancing hippo, and an Indian snake charmer, all marching to the title tune, written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler.
Appropriately enough, this was a Looney Tunes cartoon, and now we have come to the 2018 version, launched by our own Looney Tunes president Donald J Trump. The ironies pile, one upon the other, like episodes from a fever dream. If you are a fan of the television show M.A.S.H, you might recall the first appearance of Harry Morgan, who would become the beloved Col. Potter in later episodes. It was a guest appearance before he became the M.A.S.H commander and he portrayed a mentally ill general who sang a snippet of “I Love a Parade” as part of his crazy persona.
One can visualize our 71-year-old commander in chief, who is developmentally going on four years old, stamping his feet and crying, “I want a parade! And if I don’t get one, I’m going to hold my breath until I die!” Parents universally recognize this emotional explosion as the Terrible Twos, except that Trump has spent 69 years trapped in his two year old’s tantrum phase— or at least as it’s displayed for the public to see. Apparently he is prone to screaming fits of anger when things don’t go the way he wants them to. We are being ruled by a grade school bully mentality, complicated by aberrant mental short-circuits. Just the kind of guy you want running the country.

Our grandson teaches developmentally troubled youngsters who often have outbursts of anger as a result of emotional and mental aberrations, and who are capable of inflicting physical harm on anyone who gets in their way. Much of the behavior of these elementary school children closely resembles that of the president of the United States, except that they don’t have their fingers on the nuclear button and the authority to order military action against anyone who pisses them off.
So we have a president of the United States, now calling for a parade which, according to him, would be to celebrate the nation’s military might— but anyone who’s been watching him for more than a day or so realizes it would be a parade to honor him. One military official who, understandably enough, didn’t want to be identified, quoted Trump as saying “I want a parade like the one in France,” referring to a Bastille Day parade Trump witnessed in France a couple of months back when he allegedly also told the president of France, “we’re going to have to try and copy it.”
There certainly is nothing wrong with honoring the nation’s military, which is underfunded and understrength most of the time. We went into World War II woefully unprepared for it, and had to play catch up for a long time before the military was ready for the horrific battles that it encountered. That was because we were complacent and satisfied with an outdated military.
But you don’t win wars with parades and you don’t scare the enemy off by showing off. The idea of a parade of military might which would cost, according to some estimates, millions of dollars to mount, would not in any way enhance the military preparedness of the country. Why not instead pour those millions of dollars into the making of a better armed, better paid, and more modern military, ready for whatever might come?
We currently are engaged in the longest war in the nation’s history in Afghanistan, we are running bombing missions in seven different countries, and periodically engage in brushfire skirmishes in other areas of the world. And yet all our crazy president can think of in military terms is to have a parade in his honor. We already have an Armistice Day, originally to celebrate the end of World War I, the (war to end all wars” (pause for a chuckle here), which now is designated as Veterans’ Day. We have Memorial Day, which often is used as a chance to visit and decorate the graves of those who have given their lives in defense of the country. We also celebrate the Fourth of July when we celebrate our gaining independence from England.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s Mortimer Snerd alter ego, press secretary said “a military parade would highlight and show the pride in our military.” And Trump said, “people don’t know what great warriors they are in France but when you see that and you see all the victories, it was a tremendous saying,” in reference to a Bastille Day parade he witnessed in France a couple of months back.
It wasn’t too long ago (2003) that people in this country were changing the name of French fries to freedom fries, when Republican Congressman Bob Ney renamed them on the menu in three congressional cafeterias because of France’s opposition to our proposed invasion of Iraq. The French and then were not great warriors; they were frog eating bastards who hate the United States. Three years later when it became obvious that the invasion was a big mistake, freedom fries once more became French fries. Perhaps Trump now envisions himself as a modern-day Napoleon, master of conquering armies and worthy of great parades and universal adulation. Study history— Napoleon’s dreams of grandeur didn’t turn out all that well.
The insanity of the Trump parade idea is a mixture of political Looney Tunes, a lunatic commander, and a parody of the often filmed parades ordered by such world luminaries as Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, and the late Adolf Hitler. Let’s pray that Trump doesn’t demand that his parading troops march in lockstep or goose step. One never knows what the deranged nutcase is thinking in the largely empty space between his ears.
Trump’s preference is to have a parade on July 4 the date on which we commemorate the independence of the nation and is as much a tribute to democratic government as it is to anything—and our government has evolved over the last 250 years as a two-party system which today means Republicans and Democrats. Yet, rather than celebrating a two-party system, Trump said that the Democrat reaction to his State of the Union speech was treasonous and that the Democrats were traitors to the country.
I must admit that my antipathy toward military parades dates back many years to a hot summer day at camp Ripley, Minnesota, where the 35th division of the Missouri National Guard was due to pass in review. I was scheduled to march in that parade, one of many who if they had their druthers, would have opted to head for the nearest watering hole in the nearest town—Brainerd or Little Falls or anywhere but Camp Ripley. I managed to convince our battalion commander that, as a representative of the local newspaper, and as the de facto public information officer of the battalion it was my duty to prowl the sidelines, as it were, much as I did during local football games, and report on the parade as a news story.
As a scam it was much in the tradition of Hawkeye Pierce, and it worked. While many hundreds of other sweating soldiers stood in the blazing sun and solemnly marched past the reviewing stand, I prowled amid the dignitaries who included former Pres. Harry Truman (a veteran of the 35th division and a real president, as opposed to the one we have now, and who also was a combat veteran of World War I) and I took photographs which dutifully appeared in the local newspaper.
I really rather doubt that July 4 in Washington DC would be any cooler than Camp Ripley Minnesota, and that the many soldiers involved in Trump’s parade would be any more comfortable than the poor troops of that long ago exhibition of Minnesota military might. Pres. Truman who had his share of miserable trench conditions in World War I visibly radiated sympathy for the miserable soldiers parading past the reviewing stand. He knew bullshit when he saw it, instead of practicing it like the present president of golden hair and leaden intellect. Trump, of course, never served in the military, having received several deferments because of what he claimed were bone spurs. He and one of his most ardent sycophants, the right wing mouth that roared, Rush Limbaugh, both avoided military service because of dubious health claims, which doesn’t seem to stop either one from frequent golf games.
Since Donald Trump gets all giggly over the idea of a parade I have a plan for him. Rather than activating United States Army to march down Fifth Avenue in his honor, he could make use of an existing parade. Every Thanksgiving, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is in New York City, Trump’s hometown.
Why not commission a giant float to be included in the Macy’s parade? It could be a gigantic representation of Trump’s head. What could be more appropriate than a massive gasbag, filled with hot air? He could join Snoopy and Mickey Mouse and other cartoon characters as they float along the famed Fifth Avenue, right past Trump Tower, the president’s glittering monument to excess and personal glorification. Trump could stand on a specially built balcony on the façade of the tower, passing benediction on the crowd below and posing belligerently like Benito Mussolini. Not exactly the Pope, another Italian personage, but what the heck you go with what you got.
Many thousands of fawning New Yorkers could gather to worship the drifting gasbag and official photographers could take photographs that Trump later could claim as evidence that it was the largest crowd ever to witness a parade and the greatest parade in the history of the universe. He could brag that even God couldn’t mount a more spectacular parade and Sarah Huckabee Sanders could drool at the daily press briefing that once again the president is vindicated, dissolved of all the scurrilous things that those awful Democrats have been saying about him.

Of course there is the distinct possibility, that no one would show up and that someone would take lying photographs of empty streets and even the Snoopy float would show the beloved beagle snarling like a wolverine in a foothold trap.
It’s a thought….

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