Naval War College Professor Describes Trump’s 4th of July Speech as a “Strange, Somewhat Soviet…Spectacle”

Trump on mall

This morning the New York Daily News published one of the best pieces I have seen so far on Trump’s “Salute to America” speech.  It comes from Tom Nichols, a professor at the Naval War College, a former Republican Senate aide, and the author of The Death of Expertise.

Here is a taste:

Let’s get an obvious point about President Trump’s Independence Day speech out of the way right at the top. It was a bad speech.

It wasn’t bad in the way most of Donald Trump’s speeches are bad, in that it was not overtly objectionable. It was relatively free of the populist claptrap and barely disguised racism that characterizes so many of the president’s rally addresses. In some ways, it was even anodyne, and certainly not even in the same league as his hideous “American carnage” inaugural address.

Instead, it was just a poorly written speech: a long, cliché-plagued, rambling trip through American history that tried to name-check battles and famous people as applause lines. Imagine “We Didn’t Start the Fire” if Billy Joel had been born in 1776 and his producers told him to take as much time as he needed to finish the song.

On that level, the “Salute to America” was a flop. Perhaps this was unavoidable, since it was never meant to salute America, but rather to provide the military display Trump has wanted for two years. Like any enforced celebration, it was flat and labored. There were no memorable phrases, no vivid images and no bold proposals — unless you count a promise to NASA stalwart Gene Kranz to plant a U.S. flag on Mars one day. It would have been a challenging speech to deliver even for a better speaker, and Trump, who hates reading from prepared remarks, plodded through it with a strangely detached presence and a certain amount of mushy enunciation, including a weird blip where he referred to the glorious military capture of some airports in colonial America.

And this:

Mining the glories of past military battles while flanked by defense chiefs is the kind of thing Soviet leaders used to do while droning from their reviewing stand in Moscow. It wasn’t patriotic or stirring; it was cringe-inducing. This is probably one of many reasons that former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and former Chief of Staff John Kelly — both retired generals — reportedly squashed this idea whenever it came up.

Read the entire piece here.

7 thoughts on “Naval War College Professor Describes Trump’s 4th of July Speech as a “Strange, Somewhat Soviet…Spectacle”

  1. One thing I noted. About two months ago Trump went on. Twitter rant about how planes are too darn complicated to fly.
    But talking about the aircraft doing the flyovers he was all over their high tech sophistication.
    Not that him bouncing around on a topic is unusual.


  2. Paul,

    You must have seen me umpire a local baseball game. None of the coaches or players ever dispute a single call.



  3. Unicorn,
    Not at all. Even the liberal media didn’t find a lot of substantive beefs with the speech. They made a few obligatory shots in passing but soon went on to other matters. They were prepared to pounce but when all of their indignant prophecies about Trump making a campaign speech didn’t materialize, they quickly went to their other favorite subjects.



  4. James is “balanced,” as in “Fair and Balanced.”

    He calls them as he seems them, right down the middle. No bias, no siree. If you disagree with his completely slavish and fanatical devotion to the pope, err Dear Trump, you must be delusional.

    No wonder, since you have no head.


  5. Unicorn,

    I can’t comment on what Tom Clancy or Mark Twain said on this subject, but my favorite related quote is from G.K. Chesterton.
    “Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for we have made fiction to suit ourselves.”

    Of course, your fantasies and erroneous impressions on current events are not shared by unbiased observers.


  6. He’s not the only one to do so. Heard similar commentary Tuesday afternoon on local talk radio. Though they described it more like “Banana Republic Dictator shtick”.

    My first thought was “are they going to tow nuclear missiles past as well as tanks, just like Red Square on May Day?” Second was “which Court Evangelicals are going to be standing at the Premier’s left and right hand (and in which order) atop the reviewing stand?”

    (Was it Mark Twain or Tom Clancy who said “the difference between Reality and Fiction is Fiction has to make sense”?)


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