After President Donald Trump decided late Monday to cancel an event with the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles after realizing that less than 10 players would attend—a move Philly mayor Jim Kenney mocked as further proof that the president is a "fragile egomaniac"—Trump announced on Twitter that he will instead host his own event Tuesday afternoon featuring the U.S. Army Chorus and Marine Band "playing the National Anthem."
We will proudly be playing the National Anthem and other wonderful music celebrating our Country today at 3 P.M., The White House, with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus. Honoring America! NFL, no escaping to Locker Rooms!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2018
Given the president's well-known obsession with militaristic ceremonies and self-adulation, the alternative event promises to be a bizarre spectacle. One critic characterized it as little more than a "patriotic circle jerk."
"It’s a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don’t want to see you. To make it about the anthem is foolish."
—Torrey Smith, former Eagles wide receiver
"The United States Marine Band and the U.S. Army Chorus performing for a president throwing a party for himself instead of the Philadelphia Eagles should make for some of the weirdest concert video ever," Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi noted in a tweet on Tuesday.
While Trump claimed his decision to call off the original White House event with Eagles players was because of their refusal to "proudly stand for the National Anthem," observers were quick to note that the cancellation appears to have been entirely about the possibility of embarrassingly low turnout.
As The Intercept's Shaun King observed, not a single Eagles player took a knee during the Anthem in the 2017-2018 season.
Former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith—who was traded to the Carolina Panthers after the Super Bowl—called Trump's cancellation of the event a "cowardly act" in a tweet on Monday.
There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views. The men and women that wanted to go should’ve been able to go. It’s a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don’t want to see you. To make it about the anthem is foolish
— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) June 4, 2018
Ridiculing Trump for being "afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party [that] no one wants to attend," Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney declared late Monday, "City Hall is always open for celebration."