Conservative political commentator David Gergen worked for four presidents, and only one was a Democrat. Not one of them tried to make Independence Day about themselves. But in the era of Donald Trump, things have changed.
In February, the president declared that this year he is taking over Washington, D.C.'s annual Independence Day celebration so he can make it into a rally on the national mall.
"HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It will be called 'A Salute To America' and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!" Trump tweeted.
HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It… https://t.co/YvoeR0KhAV— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1551012232.0
"It’s wildly inappropriate for the president to attend and speak at the event," Gergen told CNN host Alex Marquardt. "This is not his Fourth of July, it’s our Fourth of July, that belongs to all Americans. And to have the president take charge and plan this address is just — it goes against the grain, and this is what dictators dream of going. The president of the United States needs to show restraint and respect for the nation’s traditions. Especially on The Fourth of July."
According to a recent Washington Post report, Trump has been more involved in the planning for America's birthday than he has with policy initiatives. It isn't clear if this was by design from Trump advisors trying to keep him otherwise occupied.
"One of the things that stuck out was that the president wants to move reportedly the fireworks from the mall to be closer to the Potomac, so he can address the country from the Lincoln memorial that image of President Trump on those famous steps. How does that feel to you?" asked Marquardt.
Gergen explained that there is no comparison to Trump and the leaders who have come before him to stand on those steps, not to mention the looming eyes of President Abraham Lincoln.
"And there’s just no comparison in terms of how sort of tacky it feels," Gergen said. "I want to go back to another thing you said. This president has a lot of responsibilities we elected him to take care of. And right now there are fires burning all over the world. His trade deals with China, what’s going on with Venezuela, in North Korea, what the Russians are up to, and, you know, Iran. All those fires. They take more of the president’s time -- they should take all of his time, he has to get these under control for the country and the world."
Watch his full comments below: