Meh. All presidents monetize the State of the Union via fundraising pitches from their campaign arms but literally emblazoning donors’ names over POTUS’s image as he talks national policy for a price is an unusually direct way to shake loose some spare change from MAGA Nation. They’re being clever in pitching it as a way for Trumpists to show solidarity with him but what they’re doing is selling ads for an official address by the president.
If they’re going to squeeze individual Americans for cash, they might as well let corporate America pay big bucks to have their logos onscreen too. Presenting the Tostitos/Taco Bell State of the Union Address, sponsored by Capital One:
In a fundraising solicitation on Monday, Trump offered those willing to pay at least $35 the opportunity to see their name displayed during a live streaming of the address on his campaign website.
“This is a movement,” the solicitation says. “It’s not about just one of us. It’s about ALL of us. Which is why your name deserves to be displayed during Tuesday night’s speech.”
The web page to which the solicitation links offers donors the opportunity to contribute as much as $2,700 — the maximum amount allowed per election.
Jeryl Bier has a fine follow-up idea:
"Do you want your name emblazoned on a section of The Wall? Act now, and you can even choose which style your personal segment of The Wall will be!" Remember, if not everyone pitches in, there may be gaps with drugs and illegal immigrants pouring through!" pic.twitter.com/DtBCw18WXT
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) January 30, 2018
How many Republicans would be willing to “sponsor” a yard of the wall with a generous donation to Trump’s campaign of, say, $250? With a thousand miles of wall, they’d rake in north of $400 million that way. The bad news: Mexico isn’t paying for it. The good news: You can!
The silver lining to this gambit is that it may ratchet up the public’s contempt for the State of the Union address even higher, assuming that’s possible. At the Standard, Andrew Ferguson indulges in the fantasy shared by all right-thinking people that this obnoxious, self-important, monarchical spectacle will soon be retired and that Donald J. Trump, the great populist, is just the man to do it. Ferguson even imagines how it might play out:
“Members of Congress, and my fellow Americans,” Trump will say, his hand rising and falling daintily, “This is my first State of the Union address. It is also my last. Sit down, Nancy. I’m not resigning. But I am putting an end to this ridiculous exercise, which in the hands of my predecessors has gone from minor annoyance to national insult.
“From now on,” he will continue, “if you want to know what your president is doing, you will find me in a far more dignified and informative setting. The handle is @realDonaldTrump.”
It would be amazing. It would be glorious. But it’ll never happen, as a Twitter pal astutely pointed out last night. Trump is an egomaniac even by the standards of national politicians. We’re asking an egomaniac to decline the chance to be applauded for an hour in front of 50 million viewers?
Maybe the next president will step up. Exit question: Will the Trump campaign be vetting the names that appear onscreen during their livestream or are they going to automate this process so that every new donor gets a second or two of airtime? I ask because $35 isn’t a steep price for a mischievous liberal to pay to get a prank name on the air briefly. We may see the words “Stormy Daniels” flash by a few thousand times if Team Trump isn’t paying attention.