Donald Trump hosted an event at the White House yesterday in celebration of American-made products, and as is too often the case, the president said a lot of things that weren’t true. There was, however, one part that stood out for me.
Partway through his remarks, Trump abandoned his prepared text and started complaining about “globalists” who don’t care about closing factories and firing workers. He added, “Today, we declare a simple truth: It matters where something is made. Matters to me.”
Does it? NBC News reported yesterday on Trump-branded products, which are almost entirely made outside the United States.
Late night television host Jimmy Kimmel went on a shopping spree on the official TrumpStore.com, and found a slew of products made in other countries.
A white golf hat was made in China, while a Trump mug was made in Thailand. A shoe bag and duffel bag were made in China. A toddler bib he ordered was made in Peru. A Trump collector medallion was made in China. Kimmel also said that two products he ordered – a pet bandanna and a gold block – did not have a country of origin listed on the product or its materials, something that is illegal.
The lone domestic find? A golf club cover that was made in China, but decorated in the United States.
The list isn’t short. Trump-branded ties are made in China. Trump-branded suits are made in Indonesia. Trump-branded eyeglasses are made in China. Trump Vodka was poduced in the Netherlands, and later Germany, before U.S. sales ended altogether.
There are, in fairness, some exceptions – you can pick up some Trump-branded cologne, for example, which is made on American soil – but by any fair measure, most of his product line could not legally carry a “Made in the USA” label.
And I’m sure many in the business community would argue that this is a perfectly legitimate decision that people in the private sector make every day. Maybe so. I’m content to leave that larger debate to others.
The political salience, however, is that a president with a vast product line, made outside the United States, shouldn’t go around telling everyone how important it is to him that products are made in the United States.
It’s a bit like a president making an impassioned plea that businesses hire American workers, and then hiring dozens of foreign workers – which, as it turns out, Trump is also doing right now.