Donald Trump sticks to script, stays off politics in July 4 speech
US President Donald Trump stayed with script, did not riff his usual punchlines and spoke in soaring terms of a united people with a shared past and aspiration even as the country remained deeply divided, manifesting itself even among those gathered at the National Mall for the military parade.
Going into the event, which was boycotted by Democrats and panned by critics as politicising a national holiday and wasting tax-dollars, pundits and commentators speculated if it will be the Teleprompter Trump - disciplined and scripted - that will show up or the Twitter Trump - given to fiery and divisive remarks.
Trump stayed with the script. “Today, we come together as One Nation with this very special Salute to America,” Trump said, in his speech, opening the event that had a delayed start because of rains. “We celebrate our history, our people and the heroes who proudly defend our flag — the brave men and women of the United States Military!”
Trump gave a whistle-stop tour of American history, which some critics said was too basic, starting with independence from the British, first president George Washington, the framing of the constitution, Martin Luther King and the Civil rights movement and the moon landing and his promise of going to Mars.
Raking the promise was possibly the only element Trump had used from his usual political messaging. There was no mention of his political rivals and critics, no swipes at fake news, or the dark and grim picture he draws on immigration and the trade wars he has triggered around the world.
“That same American spirit that emboldened our founders has kept us strong throughout our history,” he said in remarks heavy on military history and legacy. “To this day that spirit runs through the veins of every American patriot. It lives on in each and every one of you here today. It is the spirit, daring and defiance, excellence and adventure, courage and confidence, loyalty and love that built this country into the most exceptional nation in the history of the world, and our nation is stronger today than it ever was before. it is its strongest now.”
The president then went on to introduce the audience to the military hardware on display, with a brief history of the the country fighting arms, the army, the navy, the air force, the marine corps. Flyovers were done by Air Force One, F-35 and F-18 fighter jets and MH-60 helicopters among others. Two Abrams tanks and a Bradley were parked nearby.
Also close by were scores of protestors and a “Baby Trump” inflated balloons were also present, miniatures of which were being handed out. Arguments broke out between Trump supporters, many of whom had shown up in Trump campaign’s “Make America Great Again” hats.