There’s no denying that US President Donald Trump is, and always has been, a showman.
After years of appearing on American television in the reality program The Apprentice, he kicked off his presidential campaign four years ago by gliding down the gilded escalator in Trump Tower on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
He’s staged multiple photo-ops with Korean dictator Kim Jung-un, the latest being last weekend, when he became the first US President to set foot in North Korea.
And now, Mr Trump is going to get a show of his own on America’s biggest patriotic holiday, the Fourth of July.
A holiday extravaganza
Not content with the usual festivities, Mr Trump is putting on his own holiday extravaganza, set to feature a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, one of Washington’s most heralded monuments.
Mr Trump supposedly got the idea for a holiday display during a 2017 visit to France, where he attended a Bastille Day celebration.
In true Trumpian fashion, his version of the Fourth of July will be bigger and more intrusive than the concert and fireworks show that has taken place the past 39 years.
Mr Trump’s assembly is forcing a brief closure of Reagan National Airport so a flyover of military planes can take place.
It also is set to include US Army tanks — so heavy they could not be driven on Washington streets, but had to be brought to the capital by rail earlier in the week before being put on display.
Plus, a VIP section
Mr Trump is thus putting his own stamp on the ultimate American public holiday, which commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, signalling America’s separation from Britain.
And, he’s causing what some feel is unneeded fuss, let alone expense.
After all, the White House, known for its elegant dinners and beautifully crafted outdoor parties, is at his disposal. He could invite anyone he wanted to the residence, and leave everyone else in town to their barbeques and picnics.
Instead, Mr Trump is creating his own VIP section at the event, called Salute to America.
And please don’t forget Ivanka
Key to the supporting cast of the Donald Trump Show is his oldest daughter, Ivanka. And this week, she scored plenty of airtime.
In the absence of her stepmother, the first lady, Ms Trump turned herself into the ultimate diplomatic plus one.
She accompanied her father to meetings at the G20 Asia Summit. She gave a summation of one event, called a “read out”, in a video tweet from the main White House account.
And she unwittingly appeared in a widely circulated video posted by the French Government.
It showed her eagerly trying to participate in a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and International Monetary Fund chairwoman Christine Lagarde.
Though not openly rude to Ms Trump, it was clear the dignitaries were studiously avoiding her.
The Elysee Palace subsequently said it did not realise the clip would lead to the reaction it received.
That led to the Twitter meme #UnwantedIvanka, in which she was photoshopped into numerous famous images, from Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting, to the Apollo 11 moon landing and the conference at Yalta toward the end of World War II.
But if Ms Trump was embarrassed or even amused by the parodies, she gave no sign of it. Her Twitter account simply continued its flow of tweets and re-tweets, many of which featured her photo.
Pundits, of course, have been in a tizzy the past days about both Mr Trump’s excesses and Ms Trump’s apparent narcissism, which caught the attention of the co-author of Mr Trump’s 1987 memoir, The Art of the Deal.
While there have been presidential children who have assisted and even advised their fathers, none did so on such a global stage as Ms Trump, who was joined on the Asia trip by her husband, Jared Kushner, also a White House adviser.
It is unfathomable to think of the Obama or Bush daughters, Chelsea Clinton, or any of their predecessors acting in such high-powered professional capacities, overshadowing the trained diplomats whose job it is to accompany the president to such meetings.
But, as Washington has been seeing from the Trumps, the rules that previously governed the first family’s behaviour have been discarded in this administration.
Gasps become wordless eye rolls
Every time there is some new breach of protocol, another one seems to follow, so that the gasps that might have been heard in prior times are reduced to sighs or wordless eye rolls.
Until the 2020 election, America is hooked to the Trump family show.
While some Democrats in Congress have tried to push back, nothing short of unseating Mr Trump will call time on the spectacle.
It might be amusing, except that so much public money is at stake, not to mention America’s standing in the world.
No television script handed to Mr Trump was ever this ludicrous. And none of Ms Trump’s jobs as a model ever gave her the runway that her father’s administration has provided.
The fireworks going off in Washington on Fourth of July night aren’t only for a celebration of liberty. They symbolise the implosion of dignity that has taken place in the White House, and the man who lit the fuse.
Micheline Maynard is an American author and journalist.
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