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Trump’s Presidential Challenge Coin is Very Trumpian

Via WaPo:  It’s ‘very gold’: The presidential coin undergoes a Trumpian makeover.

For two decades, the commander in chief has doled out distinguished-looking coins as personal mementos. Now, the presidential “challenge coin” has undergone a Trumpian transformation.

The presidential seal has been replaced by an eagle bearing President Trump’s signature. The eagle’s head faces right, not left, as on the seal. The 13 arrows representing the original states have disappeared. And the national motto, “E pluribus unum” — a Latin phrase that means “Out of many, one” — is gone.

Instead, both sides of the coin feature Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

The changes don’t stop there. In addition to his signature, Trump’s name appears three times on the coin, which is thicker than those made for past presidents. And forget the traditional subdued silver and copper: Trump’s coin, a White House aide marveled, is “very gold.”

The coin is, as one might expect, gaudy.  There are comparison photos with the piece.

The gaudiness is one thing, but the true norm-breaking is the alteration of the presidential seal and, more significantly, the inclusion of his campaign slogan. Indeed, rather than tokens associated with meeting the President of the United States, these seem to be campaign trinkets.

The White House offered conflicting accounts of which funds were used to purchase the coins, with one aide saying they were paid for by the White House and a second aide later saying that the Republican National Committee is covering the expense. An RNC spokeswoman confirmed Friday afternoon that the party is paying for the coins.

“They’re going to be used in ways they haven’t been in the past,” said the second White House aide, adding that they may be distributed at campaign rallies and to donors. Aides were not authorized to comment on the record and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

[…]

Some ethics experts questioned the unprecedented decision to include a campaign slogan on the coins, which are often distributed to members of the military.

“For the commander in chief to give a political token with a campaign slogan on it to military officers would violate the important principle of separating the military from politics, as well as diminishing the tradition of the coin,” said Trevor Potter, a Republican former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.

On the one hand, this a trivial issue (while I am aware of the concept of the challenge coin, indeed I have four on my office desk, I was unaware that of the POTUS iteration), on the other it is just another example of Trump’s egoism (three instances of his name on one coin!) and he lack of respect for the institution he currently occupies.  It is always about him and his brand, and never about the dignity of the office or of service to the country.

By the way, I know that it takes a person with a huge ego to run for the presidency.  This is not new.  Trump, however, takes this fact to a whole new (and ultimately cheap and petty) level.

Further, it is disturbing when a president acts in such a way as to personalize the office, that is to make himself more important than the office.  Trump is doing Trump, of course:  it is all about brand.  The only good news there is that there isn’t much to the brand save for glitz and noise.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    Further, it is disturbing when a president acts in such a way as to personalize the office, that is to make himself more important than the office.

    You don’t say…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14

  2. CSK says:

    Great comment at the WaPo site: “Who got to eat the Cracker Jacks?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  3. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @CSK: Great comment at the WaPo site: “Who got to eat the Cracker Jacks?”

    That’s pretty good. I’d offer “Mr. President, we have a petition of gangsta rappers who all say it’s too tacky. It’s co-signed by 12,000 eight-year-old girls.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  4. James Pearce says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: From your link:

    “Senator Barack Obama sat behind a low rostrum to which was attached an official-looking seal no one had seen before.”

    What’d you do, Bob, google “Obama seal” and posted the first piece of scurrilous garbage you found?

    Obama once sat behind a podium with an “official-looking seal,” so why should anyone complain about Trump’s ridiculous “presidential” coin?

    Because it’s probably made out of aluminum foil, that’s why.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. @James Pearce: Well, sure. All that matters is Obama! (Or Clinton!).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. Davebo says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    Senator Obama? Your Google Kung Fu is very weak. I’m shocked.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Mister Bluster says:

    Trump, however, takes this fact to a whole new (and ultimately cheap and petty) level.

    Fool’s Gold

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. @Bob The Arqubusier: I would not have commented, nor have had much of a problem, if this was something from the campaign trial.

    (It would still be gaudy, however).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Gustopher says:

    Good god is that thing ugly. That banner on the bottom repeating his name for the third time is really the “best” part.

    The man has no class and no taste.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  10. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    Obama once sat behind a podium with an “official-looking seal,” so why should anyone complain about Trump’s ridiculous “presidential” coin?

    And when Obama sat behind that podium, he was not yet President, as that happened in June of 2008.

    I think Bob must have forgotten that when one is trying to make a point about what someone has done while President, it helps a great deal for them to actually have been, you know, President.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  11. Mikey says:

    Having served 20 years in the military, I have quite a few “challenge” coins, including several from general officers (one of those from the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the late General Shalikashvili). They don’t all look the same–some are round, a couple are shaped like dog tags, one is a number because it commemorates an anniversary–but I can say with certainty none of them is a hideous, ego-driven chunk of tripe like Trump’s.

    I mean, fvck me, that thing is pig fvcking ugly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  12. SC_Birdflyte says:

    To paraphrase an insult from the FDR era: Explore the mind of Donald Trump? I guarantee you there is nothing there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  13. Gustopher says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: The Obama seal was ugly, dumb and kind of like a giant flag pin. And even presumptuous. He should have been mocked for it.

    He also wasn’t president. It was also better looking than this gilded turd. He also wasn’t taking a quiet, understated and respectful tradition to honor others and making it all about himself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. wr says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: Your response to an eight-word joke is 22 words over two sentences. Clearly you understand how jokes work about as well as you understand politics… or anything else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    All that matters is Obama! (Or Clinton!).

    And distraction/diversion.

    @Mikey:

    And when Obama sat behind that podium, he was not yet President, as that happened in June of 2008.

    Oh, I’m sure that this is actually what ignited Bob’s ire…the presumption that a Kenyan community organizer would dare to have a faux-“presidential seal” on his podium before he even won the election.

    What Obama’s podium and Trump’s coin have in common, though, I cannot fathom. They’re both presidents. Neither story is really that big of a deal, and yet both have a “you should be mad about this” quality. And I don’t know….maybe we shouldn’t?

    I think it’s kind of “cute” that the president is obsessed with fake-ass challenge coins like my 12 year old niece is obsessed with slow-rising squishies. Probably makes him feel all military.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Franklin says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: Your troll bait is pretty weak tea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. JohnMcC says:

    @Franklin: Stirred the whole thread up pretty well, though. Guess he’s smiling and planning to come right back, eh?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    What Obama’s podium and Trump’s coin have in common, though, I cannot fathom. They’re both presidents. Neither story is really that big of a deal, and yet both have a “you should be mad about this” quality. And I don’t know….maybe we shouldn’t?

    Mad about it? Not even close. It’s just another data point among the very many that show us who and what Trump is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    So, every president gets a unique design, and Trump’s is incredibly gaudy and flamboyant and tasteless. Someone get this reporter a Pulitzer.

    Meanwhile, Candidate Obama’s redesign of the presidential seal (which featured his name twice and his campaign slogan weakly translated into Latin) was no big deal because he was just McAwesomeSauce and gonna win anyway and shut up racist. Got it.

    Oh, and I heard that Elton John was offered a Trump challenge coin. He declined it, saying that he didn’t have a single thing to wear that would go with it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  20. Mikey says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    Got it.

    Not even remotely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Gustopher says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Stirred the whole thread up pretty well, though. Guess he’s smiling

    I shudder to think of the many very serious issues that Silly Bob dude has squelched on this very silly thread. They must be up in very serious idea heaven, waiting to be born.

    The medal/coin thing is tacky and disrespectful to the office and the tradition, sure, but where do you go from there? Is there more that needs to be said? This is a point and laugh moment, and Little Bobby Aquaduct has given us more to point and laugh at — his lame efforts and his pervasive need to d fend his one true deplorable love. And even Little Bobby Aquaduck is unable to bring himself to say “actually, I quite like it — it’s tasteful”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. The only good news there is that there isn’t much to the brand save for glitz and noise.

    Trump admitted this in the early 90s. He had some interview where he said that all of the things, the buildings, the casinos, the women were just props. He’s just projecting an image. It’s all artifice, including his gaudy new coin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @Gustopher: If you’re offering me the choise between “Aquaduct” and “Aquaduck,” put me down for the latter — but I would prefer if you included my “The Aquaduck.”

    @JohnMcC: Stirred the whole thread up pretty well, though. Guess he’s smiling and planning to come right back, eh?

    I always try to stay on topic, and am almost never the first to go off-thread. And I am never the first to engage in personal attacks.

    That I leave to my intellectual and moral superiors here (they are — just ask them!) to demonstrate how much smarter, how much more thoughtful, how much more compassionate and caring they are.

    @Robert Prather: Trump admitted this in the early 90s. He had some interview where he said that all of the things, the buildings, the casinos, the women were just props. He’s just projecting an image. It’s all artifice, including his gaudy new coin.

    How the hell is this news? Perception is a huge aspect of sales, and Trump is a salesman. Big, tacky, ostentatious, gaudy, flashy, and gauche is part of the whole Trump package. His native language is hyperbole.

    It’s amusing how many articles on this site boil down to “ZOMG, Trump is exactly what everyone has known he is for years! And he’s totally not like any other president ever! Why the hell can’t he suddenly stop being exactly what he has for years, and live up to our expectations of what a president is supposed to be like?”

    It. Never. Grows. Old.

    Never.

    BTW, I’ll be taking Christmas off. Consider that my present to you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  24. An Interested Party says:

    Why the hell can’t he suddenly stop being exactly what he has for years, and live up to our expectations of what a president is supposed to be like?

    Who is asking this question? We all know that the Orange Mange is a total sleazebag and no one expects him to change…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. KM says:

    The eagle’s head faces right, not left, as on the seal. The 13 arrows representing the original states have disappeared. And the national motto, “E pluribus unum” — a Latin phrase that means “Out of many, one” — is gone.

    Wanna bet someone told him the urban legend about the seal’s “subtle changes during war” and totally believed it came from the Big Presidential Book of Secrets? After all, he’s the great CiC during the infamous War of Christmas – gotta have a coin that reflects his brave military leadership skills!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. al-Ameda says:

    So predictable: Trump has a gold fetish.

    He truly believes that anything he affixes his name to, in gold lettering, of course, is automatically thought to be ‘gold standard’ in classiness and quality-ness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. gVOR08 says:

    As someone pointed out – Horcruxes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0