The vast majority of Americans will never receive a presidential "challenge coin." That's because they're nearly always handed quietly to U.S. military officers and troops from sitting presidents, as a gesture of gratitude for their service.
As the Washington Post reported the other day the "distinguished-looking coins" have now "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The presidential seal has been replaced by an eagle bearing President Trump's signature.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."
Challenge coins used to be modest, thin, made in subdued colors, and limited to military members. Donald Trump's challenge coins are big, thick, gold, and "may be distributed at campaign rallies and to donors."
In fact, under this president, the coin isn't even round anymore: as the Post added, this new iteration of the coin is "designed to literally stand on its own," featuring "a ribbon-shaped banner" bearing Trump's name in capital letters, which "doubles as a rocking-horse-style base."
And before you think some over-eager White House intern was responsible for these changes, let's not overlook the fact that the same article noted that Trump "was personally involved in redesigning the coin."
The result is a coin that captures the essence of this president -- his narcissism, his disregard for American traditions, his need for ostentatious celebrations of himself -- in one oddly shaped disc.
I can appreciate why this seems a little too easy, but I'd love to know what would've happened if Barack Obama had done something like this. Imagine if the Democrat took the challenge coin, stripped it of the national motto and removed the bald-eagle emblem. Then imagine if Obama personally had a hand in making sure the coin featured his name -- three times -- while prominently featuring his campaign slogan.
Then imagine the Obama White House signaled his intention to make the challenge coin available to rally attendees and donors, instead of military personnel.
Would he ever have heard the end of it?