Local politicians in the nation's capital are to blame for delaying an absurd military parade that only one person wants, President Donald Trump said Friday. But hey, at least now we can purchase more jet fighters, he added.
The Pentagon announced Thursday that it was pushing back Trump's military parade, originally scheduled for November, until 2019. The Department of Defense and the White House "have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019," said Pentagon spokesperson Col. Rob Manning.
The timing of Thursday's announcement was curious. The Associated Press had reported early in the day Thursday that the parade would cost an estimated $92 million—more than three times the White House's highest projected cost. Trump responded Friday by blaming "the local politicians who run Washington, D.C."
In a pair of tweets this morning, Trump complained about the cost of organizing a flamboyant display of militarism in one of the most security obsessed cities in the world. "When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it," the president wrote.
"Never let someone hold you up! I will instead attend the big parade already scheduled at Andrews Air Force Base on a different date, & go to the Paris parade, celebrating the end of the War, on November 11th," he tweeted. "Maybe we will do something next year in D.C. when the cost comes WAY DOWN."
Trump also suggested that with the money he's saving the country by not holding the parade in November, "we can buy some more jet fighters!" That assertion seems questionable at best, as a single F-35A fighter jet costs at least $98 million, according to defense contractor Lockheed Martin. That figure doesn't include operating costs.
While Trump cited the parade's high cost as the reason for its postponement, Defense Secretary James Mattis pushed back yesterday on the $92 million cost estimate. "Whoever told you that is probably smoking something that is legal in my state, but not in most states," he told reporters. "I'm not dignifying that number with any reply."
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, meanwhile, responded to Trump's tweet this morning by claiming she "finally got thru to the reality star in the White House."
Though the military parade might still happen in 2019, it would probably be best to just ditch the idea. At least one poll shows that military personnel don't seem to want it. And even the American Legion said in a statement today that until "we can celebrate victory in the War on Terrorism and bring our military home, we think the parade money would be better spent fully funding the Department of Veterans Affairs and giving our troops and their families the best care possible."
As Reason's Eric Boehm argued yesterday, the parade wouldn't be worth it even if it didn't cost anything. "Marching a bunch of tanks through the capital city is something that should only happen in military dictatorships, dystopian movies, and France," Boehm wrote. "This isn't something that stable, democratic countries should do, and it's certainly not something that American taxpayers should have to fund."