In a particularly brutal column for the New York Daily News, Tom Nichols, a conservative professor at the Naval War College in Rhode Island, surveyed the text and delivery of Donald Trump's Fourth of July speech and found both to be profoundly awful.
The president's overly-long speech -- which has been widely panned as both boring and full of bizarre assertions -- did not find a fan in Nichols either who, right out of the gate, bluntly called it: "A bad speech."
"It wasn’t bad in the way most of Donald Trump’s speeches are bad, in that it was not overtly objectionable. It was relatively free of the populist claptrap and barely disguised racism that characterizes so many of the president’s rally addresses," he wrote before making an apt -- and amusing -- analogy.
"It was just a poorly written speech: a long, cliché-plagued, rambling trip through American history that tried to name-check battles and famous people as applause lines," he explained. " Imagine 'We Didn’t Start the Fire' if Billy Joel had been born in 1776 and his producers told him to take as much time as he needed to finish the song."
"On that level, the “Salute to America” was a flop," he continued. "Perhaps this was unavoidable, since it was never meant to salute America, but rather to provide the military display Trump has wanted for two years. Like any enforced celebration, it was flat and labored. There were no memorable phrases, no vivid images and no bold proposals."
According to Nichols, who also noted "a weird blip where he [Trump] referred to the glorious military capture of some airports in colonial America," the unabashed militarism was especially distasteful, adding that it was reminiscent of how the Soviet Union used to conduct business with brazen displays of military might.
"It is another matter entirely, however, to call forward the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs and make them stand there during a cheerless reading of the exploits of each branch of the armed services while a military chorus sings their anthems and their various aircraft roar past — including the narcissistic insistence that Air Force One fly overhead as the president took the stage," the Naval College professor wrote. "Mining the glories of past military battles while flanked by defense chiefs is the kind of thing Soviet leaders used to do while droning from their reviewing stand in Moscow. It wasn’t patriotic or stirring; it was cringe-inducing."
He then summed up the whole experience.
"The speech itself was not the problem. Its content will be forgotten — except, perhaps by students of speechwriting, who might use it as an example of what to avoid in their craft," he concluded. "Everything around it, however, from beginning to end, was an offense to the traditions of our republic and our Constitution."
You can read the whole op-ed here.