President Trump showed his version of what July 4th is about, and it wasn’t bad at all. It played well in most of America, outside the cynical Washington crowd and the media, because most of America takes pride in our military, and in our history.
Give some credit to Trump, for being presidential. These kinds of speeches, when he stays true to the script, highlight the “good Trump.” Look at his inauguration speech, his State of the Union speeches, and a few of his addresses to the nation. Trump can be a very effective communicator, and when he connects, he connects best to hearts. This speech, highlighting American history, personalities, and military branches, connected.
Some in the media, like Phil Mudd from CNN, “hated” Trump’s speech, because it was too much about the military. But what’s so wrong with that? George Washington indeed did face down the British in New York. He did have the Declaration of Independence read to his troops. The Declaration was a document of war, of rebellion, of the severing of political ties with the inevitable battle to preserve that independence to follow (indeed, the battle had been joined prior to the document declaring it).
At the heart of America’s resolve for a pluralistic society where unity is produced from many–hence “e pluribus unum“–is our military and militia. The citizen soldier is a very American thing, dating back to the patriots who fought the red coats. Certainly, we are not a militaristic society, but we should recognize that independence and freedom have a cost, and that cost is paid even today by those who fight real enemies.
These themes play well in America, both among American families many generations deep, and among immigrants. Trump sought today not to play up America’s problems, or our divisions, or what changes are needed, or to dump on his enemies. He stayed away from policy, politics, and even self-praise. Keeping clear of singing his own accomplishments is a big deal for Trump, yet you won’t see much praise in the media about it.
Trump’s display and his speech were a fitting celebration for Independence Day. It would have been fitting if done by a Democrat or a Republican. Today, Trump was eminently presidential in demeanor, and optimistic in his message: “nothing is impossible” for Americans.
This confused the media, who expected an off-script reference to the Russia investigation, or some kind of self-aggrandizing stumping from the national pulpit. Left without an easy target, mainstream media reporting stuck to “MAGA hats,” focusing on Trump’s fans who sat through D.C. heat and rain to hear him. They highlighted differences between Trump’s Lincoln Memorial display and the traditional Washington Independence Day show at the West Lawn of the Capitol.
Essentially, those who didn’t like President Trump’s version of July 4 didn’t like it because they don’t like Trump. They didn’t like that the fireworks had moved to the Potomac instead of the lawn area adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial, near the Reflecting Pool (where Trump spoke). They didn’t like the tanks or the flyovers, not because they don’t like American military hardware, but because Trump was the emcee for the events.
Like the president or hate him, Trump was presidential. He honored America and our military in an appropriate salute on a day when the military matters. He honored men and women of all races, of all origins, on a day when both native-born Americans and new immigrants all see eye to eye on our freedoms.
For his part, President Trump deserves credit. Most of the media won’t give it to him.