In the rankings of tackiest presidents ever, Donald Trump leads the pack by miles.
Trump’s predilection for all that glitters and can be gold-plated is well documented but as President of the United States, he has so many more opportunities to show off his impeccably bad taste that a veritable plethora of tackiness has emerged for our derisional pleasure.
Case in point, the gold “challenge coin” that Trump just issued as a memento of his administration. These challenge coins are something that Presidents have issued for decades, and they are typically staid, traditional designs with a prestigious aura.
Something like that would be completely out of character for President Trump, of course, so he came up with his own design to leap past all previously known bounds of taste in presidential coin history.
Thicker than all prior presidential numismatic mementos, the coin features Trump’s name on it three times. It replaces the traditional Presidential seal including the motto of “E Pluribus Unum” (Latin for “Out of Many, One”) with an eagle facing the rightward, rather than the typical left-facing visage, and bearing the “Make America Great Again” slogan. The reverse side features the White House and an American flag motif.
Moreover, the traditional silver or bronze just wouldn’t do for Trump. It had to be gold, or “very gold” as one White House aide described it to The Washington Post. Given the overall gaudiness of the item in question, it should come as no surprise that the President personally supervised the design of the coin, proving once again that no matter how much money or power you may have, you just can’t buy good taste.
After conflicting reports emerged from the White House over who was actually paying for these minted monstrosities, the Republican National Committee confirmed today that they would accept the blame.
Who will accept the blame from ethics experts who question the inclusion of a partisan campaign slogan on a coin that is often presented to members of the nation’s military forces is still to be determined. Trevor Potter, a Republican former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said:
“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.”
As if the design of the coin itself didn’t significantly diminish that tradition on its own. Yet the administration was unabashed in its enthusiasm for the bauble and the slogan it includes:
“That’s central to the message. I’m sure there will not be just one coin during his tenure. I’m sure the next one will say ‘Made America Great Again,’ ” one White House aide remarked.
The presidential challenge coins are widely sought by collectors, with the official Obama challenge coin trading for nearly $1,000 online in recent days. It remains to be seen what Trump’s coins will fetch in the resale market, but the gold-plating should increase its value far beyond the name emblazoned upon it.
Still, Trump’s name should add some value to the coin since there is always a market for mementos of notorious world figures. After all, remember that Adolph Hitler’s mediocre artwork fetched nearly half a million dollars at auction, and it wasn’t because of its artistic significance.