Since Bill Clinton, US presidents have handed out their own uniquely designed "challenge coins" as personal mementos to special guests, diplomats and military members.
But Trump, being Trump, has revamped the presidential coin to better reflect who he is. And he has succeeded. The new coin truly sums him up well: It's all about Trump and very little about the United States.
In the past, these presidential coins were made in a subdued silver or copper and featured the Great Seal of the United States on one side, complete with 13 arrows representing the original states and the Latin phrase "E pluribus unum,
" which means "Out of many, one." The other side tastefully depicted the White House and the name of the president.
Yet the 45th President decided to dump the Great Seal of the United States. What did he replace it? With his own motto, of course: "Make America Great Again" -- which appears on both sides of the coin. Add to that, on this two-sided coin Trump's name appears three times! That doesn't even include his signature featured right below the coin's bald eagle -- which is no longer looking to its right, as it does on the US seal, but now to its left. All told, Trump's name now appears twice on each side of the coin while "United States of America" appears only once.
And gone is the coin being made in a tasteful silver or copper. Instead, it's gold -- or "very gold
" -- as one Trump aide told The Washington Post. (On Friday, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee confirmed that the party would be paying for the coins.)
But wait, there's more. The coin is bigger than former President Barack Obama's challenge coin -- by a lot. Now in Trump's defense the coin had to be larger to fit his name four times and his slogan twice. Overall, the coin looks like the type of flashy souvenir that Trump would've sold in his casinos' gift shops -- assuming those casinos were still open.
Moammar Gadhafi may have had his gold gun
and Saddam Hussein boasted a gold toilet-paper dispenser
, but Trump's flashy gold coin would make them and other dictators green with envy. Apparently, MAGA stands for "Make America Gaudy Again."
Of course, the coin could be worse. It could've featured an image of Trump on both sides or maybe Trump on one side and Vladimir Putin on the other. The coin could also have included Trump's catchphrases such as "believe me," "lock her up" or his most famous, "fake news."
Perhaps Trump will unveil a whole set of these coins that will be sold in the gift shops at Trump's hotels, so he can profit from them just as he will be personally enriched by the tax cuts
he signed into law Friday. Maybe Trump will use this coin to reward administration officials who praise him best at the next Cabinet meeting -- although Mike Pence's
recent master class in sucking up will be tough to beat.
This coin is a lot of things, but surprising isn't one of them. Trump is always about self-promotion, so why should his challenge coin be any different? To him, his surname is a brand.
According to The Washington Post, Trump "was personally involved in redesigning the coin,
" so dropping "E pluribus unum" from his coin was intentional.
"E pluribus unum" has been invoked by many, including Obama, as evidence that our Founding Fathers intended our nation to be welcoming to immigrants
of all different backgrounds. That view, however, is clearly not supported by Trump, who wants to curtail legal immigration and ban people from various Muslim-majority countries.
In fact, Obama calling "E pluribus unum" our national slogan had outraged
some on the right in the past such as former GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann and others in the Congressional Prayer Caucus who demanded Obama acknowledge that our nation's motto was actually, "In God We Trust." (Curiously, Trump's coin leaves out "In God We Trust.")
No doubt Trump supporters will love this new Trumpian coin. But to me this coin is like Trump: a bad penny that's an unwelcome, worthless knockoff of the original -- that we can't seem to avoid.