BY MAX BURBANK | It’s been about a week, and I still can’t figure it out. Because you know I love me some Fourth of July.
I mean, it’s got two things I’m a total sucker for: Non-violent, brightly colored ordinance exploding in the sky, and the dramatic tension caused by the reverent celebration of a set of highly admirable principles we have never and will never live up to.
The United States of America has an awesome mission statement. It gives me chills just to think about government by and for the people that shall not perish from this earth. Freedom of speech? Freedom of the press? Come on, that’s the balls! And it’s SO human that, as a nation, we are never gonna get there!
When we first wrote the words, “All men are created equal,” we meant, you know, actual men—not, like, women too, or anything. And we meant the white ones, that was pretty much a given.
But hear me out: It’s good to be aware that a lot of the time we absolutely suck at practicing what we preach. If you can look at that without turning away, without red-faced spit flying out of your mouth, without Confederate flag-waving, MAGA hat-wearing denial, it lets you know where you stand on the path. And on our best days, when the better angels of our nature prevail, we are hopefully striving for something. Trying and failing and trying. That’s about the best you can expect from human nature. Take that uncomfortable yet aspirational feeling, and you only need one more ingredient to make the quintessential American holiday.
Shit blowing up IN THE SKY! Flaming balls of deafening COLOR shooting every which-a-way! It’s like a roundhouse kick right to the pleasure center of my brain! Admittedly, it’s possible that my continued childish passion for fireworks is linked to some sort of neural disorder, but, you know, when life gives you lemons, make ’em into FIREWORKS, am I right?
Somehow, though, I just couldn’t get in the mood this year. Maybe I’m getting old, winding down. Maybe the repetition of traditions that once gave me pleasure seems a little faded as I slip into the middle of “middle-aged.” Maybe my serotonin and dopamine pumps just don’t work the way they once did.
Or maybe… just maybe… Some thick-bodied, human-shaped, orange leather sack of rabid baboon bile and spite in a poorly tailored, off-the-rack suit intended for someone a foot and a half taller and a hundred pounds lighter tried to hijack my holiday and turn it into a God damn North Korean-style martial tribute to HIMSELF, and maybe, MAYBE that kind of RUINED something I usually enjoy the crap out of! And, I assume, ruined it for a lot of you guys as well. ’Cause when I write about things that piss me off, it’s not really my irritation and generally shitty attitude that matter. I’m writing about universals. It’s you guys I really care about. You’re welcome.
Here’s the capper: I can’t even really get that mad. If the whole “Salute to Impending Dictatorship” came out half the way the Commander-in-Chief-of-Cheating-at-Golf wanted, you’d be able to see my head exploding from Mars—where, apparently, we’ll soon be planting our flag. But it didn’t. It was lackluster, wet, pathetic and just sad. Listen: Russian State TV called the event “low energy.” And Trump can’t even say that’s “Fake News,” ’cause it came from Russia!
It rained on Trump’s parade, literally. He was so jealously determined to one-up the spectacle he’d seen in France on Bastille Day, to beat Macron’s parade, to “Trump” it! He got two tanks parked on the National Mall. He told the press they were “brand new Sherman Tanks.” See, it’s funny, because Trump has a permanent hard-on for the machinery of death, but doesn’t know we haven’t used Sherman Tanks since 1957.
The multiple flyovers were impressive, but then your funny ol’ Grampy Trump kind of screwed the pooch on even mentioning anything about airplanes with this quote:
“The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown. Our army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rocket’s red glare, it had nothing but victory.”
Leave aside that he keeps saying “of” instead of “at.” Forget that he does a 36-year time jump before the paragraph’s over. Forget (if it’s possible) that he says our Army “Rammed the Ramparts,” like the whole thing was some sort of low-budget period porno. The Continental Army, during the American Revolution, (or maybe the war of 1812, it’s a little hard to tell when we are at this point), “Took over the airports.”
Took over… the airports.
OK, maybe it was hard to see the teleprompter in the rain, maybe it just said “ports” and Trump accidentally said “airports.” Maybe because he’s constitutionally unable to ever admit a mistake, no matter how blatant and TOTALLY RIDICULOUS, he can’t just say, “Hey, I screwed up, like a human person does sometimes. Funny, right?” He’s just gonna let the whole “airports” thing slide and force us all to consider the possibility that Trump honestly thinks there were AIRPORTS IN 1776! Or 1812. Or whatever the hell time period he was talking about. Because he’s not just proud and arrogant, he’s very, very stupid. No one, not one single soul will remember anything about Trump’s whole Fourth of July tribute to himself, except him saying there were airports during the Revolutionary War. We’re probably never going to know just how much this cluster-shindig cost, but it’s a pretty high price tag for the only take-away to be the president’s lack of clarity on when the airplane was invented.
Look at the photos. Look at that sad, lonely, ridiculous old man hunched over a podium behind a wall of rain soaked, bulletproof glass. Look at his miserable, frightened face. It’s like some inexplicably withered little punk hotwired Wonder Woman’s invisible plane and took it for a joy ride into a damn thunderstorm before remembering he has no idea how to land.
Maybe there’s a super high-tech Amazonian time travel button on the control panel. I hear the runway at Valley Forge International was smooth and straight and long and hardly ever crowded, great practice for highly unqualified aviators inclined to learn on the job. Who knows? He’s one of the luckiest men who ever lived. Maybe he’ll walk away from the inevitable crash.
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