With President Donald Trump’s “Salute to America” Fourth of July celebration in Washington drawing considerable attention for its unprecedented size — as well as Trump’s decision to speak at the event — it’s also attracted plenty of attention from the president’s adversaries.
And few symbols of an adversarial relationship with Trump are as prominent as the “Baby Trump” balloon.
The balloon, which depicts the president as a perma-orange, bloated baby in a diaper and clutching a cellphone, is most conspicuously seen whenever the president visits London, along with all of the concomitant media attention. However, it appears pretty much wherever opposition to Trump will get its creators attention.
Washington on the Fourth of July certainly qualifies. It’s a shame the balloon won’t actually be flying.
Yes, that’s right. According to CNN, while the balloon will be allowed on the National Mall, it won’t be allowed to fly. Instead, the famous caricature of the president will be grounded.
In the permit, which allows the protest group Code Pink (which, incidentally — they’re still around?) to display the balloon on the Mall in the vicinity of the Washington Monument from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday — the National Park Service notes that “all balloons are prohibited” from the Mall.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 2, 2019
Instead, the Trump balloon can be “filled with cold-air only and unable to achieve flight.”
In a media release, Code Pink announced its intentions to hold a news conference Wednesday at noon Eastern time “to protest the militarization of July 4 and talk about our plans to fly Baby Trump with helium and hold a ‘Trump is a Big Baby’ Festival.”
“Regarding the location, we had requested a space on the large, empty expanse at the base of the Washington Monument that would not have obstructed anyone’s view but would have allowed the president to see the baby,” the news release read.
“Instead we were only given location options that were outside the line of sight. We chose the northwest quadrant just off 17th street but feel there was no reason to deny us our right to protest the president where he could see us.”
The group said it sought “to put helium into the balloon so it will rise off the ground a mere two feet. This would only make the entire baby 20 feet tall; the height restrictions for the National Mall is 45 feet. We were told that to do this, we had to get a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration, which then told us to go to the Flight Standard District Office (FSDO).”
“We are now trying to get the waiver from the FSDO, but feel this bureaucratic process is designed to force us to just keep the baby on the ground, instead of floating it in the air. It’s ridiculous that we have to contact the FAA to hoist a balloon two feet off the ground,” Code Pink logistics manager Tighe Barry said in the release.
“There is nothing dangerous about helium — there are lots of helium floats in the July 4 parade. And you certainly can’t say that a 20-foot-tall balloon is going to interfere with Trump’s Air Force One and the Navy’s Blue Angels!”
The issue here seems to be the location on the National Mall, which — as previously stated — apparently doesn’t permit balloons. However, I think the lack of a waiver should be considered a godsend for Code Pink, which wouldn’t be getting any attention at all over a 20-foot balloon we’ve all seen before.
Let’s face facts here: Neither the “Baby Trump” balloon nor Code Pink is a particularly fresh phenomenon.
In fact, I don’t remember hearing from the latter entity since their heyday during the George W. Bush administration, when the media would breathlessly cover its members’ screaming fits in congressional hearings.
Getting the balloon in the sight of the president wouldn’t exactly be a big deal, not in the least because it’s a small balloon at an event featuring flyovers from the Blue Angels, Air Force One and F-35 stealth fighter jets.
For giving up two feet of height, Code Pink gets a whole lot of attention — and that may have been its intention in the first place. Whether the balloon can compete with fighter jets, tanks and patriotic spectacle, however, remains to be seen.
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