Most of the pitches I get from political campaigns come to my dog, Lucy, because (1) who really wants politicians to have their personal information, and (2) it's funny to me.
On Wednesday, with the nation's attention turning briefly to turkey before shifting to shopping for the next month, Lucy got a pitch that she will no doubt find hard to resist.
That is a $149 “Make America Great Again” hat, made of brass and finished with 14-karat gold.
That is two days of the annual household income in Elliott County, Ky., one of the counties that Trump flipped from blue to red after 30 years, thanks to its large population of working-class white voters. It is half a workweek at the federal minimum wage, which Trump has alternately wanted to scrap and raise.
Trump was not shy about leveraging the power of the “war on Christmas” narrative to his advantage. On the campaign trail, he repeatedly insisted that, if elected, everyone would be saying “Merry Christmas” again, instead of the “politically correct” “happy holidays.” Hence the inclusion in this email of the line, “President-elect Trump loves Christmas and makes a point of proudly saying 'Merry Christmas' every chance he gets.” Sure, it's out of place in July, but he can't help it.
As with all campaign merchandise, the thing being sold isn't really worth the price you're paying. Part of what you're paying for is the campaign itself and the candidate. Which is why this particular thing is so strange. The Trump baseball cap was a very effective branding tool for Trump: Accessible, unassuming, emblazoned with his motto — and incongruous for a billionaire in a way that bolstered his pitch. This baseball-cap ornament is something else: Fancy, pricey and incongruous in a less helpful way. It seems more like something that would appeal to Trump's primary-campaign not-so-working-class base than the group that helped power his victory earlier this month.
Why does Trump still want to sell things to people, even though the campaign is over? Generally speaking, campaigns accrue debt over the course of the election that they then need to pay off. This is usually trickier for losing candidates than winning ones, because losing candidates are not often considered great investments by donors. Earlier this year, Trump co-hosted a fundraiser in New Jersey to help Chris Christie retire the debt from his presidential campaign. So while this particular pitch is a bit odd, the process itself isn't.
Anyway, here's the link if you want to make the investment. A lot of the early sales of the baseball caps were ironic, as when the Washington Free Beacon was called out for contributing to Trump's campaign after buying 20 hats for its staff.
$149 is a lot for an ironic purchase. It's also a lot for my dog.