Here’s an image for you: a convoy of missile launchers, jeeps and heavy trucks parading down 47th Street through the heart of the Country Club Plaza. No tanks, mind you. They weigh more than 100,000 pounds and would tear up the roads.
Tanks or not, that’s what U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley wants to see. He’s a big fan of President Donald Trump’s idea of a grand military parade.
Trump once envisioned this procession in New York or Washington, D.C. But Hawley thinks it should be in Missouri and said so on Twitter this week. A campaign spokesman said the Plaza would be a great location. Either that or near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
“St. Louis or Kansas City make the most sense,” Hawley campaign manager Kyle Plotkin told me. “It’s convenient for folks to get to Missouri from around the country.”
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Imagine it: Thousands of soldiers in smart parade attire, stepping out as hundreds of thousands of onlookers pack nearby sidewalks and watch it all unfold.
They’d shoot past the J.C. Nichols fountain (which should be renamed), past the Classic Cup where business types cut deals over meals, then parade by Barnes & Noble where a seat in the second-floor cafe would make for prime viewing.
Kansas City, are you ready? All Trump has to do is give the green light.
“I look forward to seeing if the president accepts,” Hawley said in an email blast to supporters. What a way to honor veterans, he said. What an incredible way to thank active-duty soldiers.
It all seems a little odd to me. “Wacky” comes to mind, too. Jason Kander, a military man himself who ran for the U.S. Senate in Missouri in 2016, was dismissive: “You want someone to perform for you, buy a ticket to a play.”
My preferred way to honor vets is improving their health care and providing them with good jobs.
But Hawley is pumped. His likely opponent this fall, Sen. Claire McCaskill, also was enthusiastic. But she wants a parade honoring veterans without all the military hardware. “It would be terrific if the president would organize a parade to honor all of the veterans in our country,” she said.
While the grandiosity of it is fascinating, so are the politics. That Hawley is all-in on the president’s second-most singular idea — the wall is first — suggests something important about Trump’s political standing in Missouri.
His job approval in Missouri has slipped during the year he’s been in office. Trump is down to a 49 percent job approval score and a 47 percent disapproval rating, according to Morning Consult. He was 53-34 in January 2017.
But he’s still up, and one Missouri GOP pollster, Remington Research, says the number of voters viewing him favorably — a different metric than job approval — hasn’t changed much since Election Day.
So after all the controversy over immigration and the wall, Russia and the size of his inauguration day crowd, after Stormy Daniels and the “Access Hollywood” tape, and all the inappropriate remarks and ongoing questions about credibility, Trump remains a force in Missouri, particularly among Republicans. Much of the state is perplexed by this. But those people don’t live in rural Missouri where the president is strongest.
That’s why Hawley is embracing Trump’s idea for a big parade. Never mind that Howitzers and Helzberg Diamonds don’t exactly mix.