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Fun on Friday: The Trump Challenge Coin Outrage

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Is it just me, or has modern American politics devolved into little more than petulant playground namecalling devoid of substance?

I stumbled across this latest outrage as I was perusing the depths of the internet the other day – presidential “challenge coins.” Apparently, according to the mainstream pundits, President Donald Trump can’t even get a fun little presidential tradition right.

The New York Times did an entire feature story on how Trump has ruined presidential challenge coins. I’ll bet most of you haven’t even heard of challenge coins. But they’re a thing. And according to our intrepid NYT columnist, Trump’s execution of this august tradition is a complete outrage!

Of course, you know, everything today is an outrage. Trump tweets something inane – it’s an outrage. Trump botches some international etiquette protocol – outrage. Trump puts ketchup on his steak – total outrage.

Of course, there are actual things we could be outraged about. Like a $21 trillion federal debt or the fact that we’re a year-and-a-half into this administration and Obamacare still hasn’t been repealed. Or how about the children starving to death in Yemen thanks to the US supported Saudi Arabian war there? There’s an actual outrage. But when I bring that up to people, I get blank stares and hear the chirping of crickets in my head. We have tweets and challenge coins to be outraged about, thank you very much.

OK – so, what’s a challenge coin?

Apparently, this tradition started during the Clinton administration. These coins are produced in small numbers and handed out to staffers and other hangers-on to commemorate various presidential trips and White House events. The New York Times described challenge coins as “stately symbols of the presidency coveted by the military, law enforcement personnel and a small circle of collectors.”

That is until Donald J. Trump came along. Seriously, the article actually says that.

“Then came Donald J. Trump.”

Because, you see, unlike the stately Bill Clinton and his cigar, Trump is crass. He’s even managed to ruin the “stately” tradition of handing out tacky coins as souvenirs to staffers.

Outrage!

Apparently, one of the big problems is Trump has made the tacky coins even tackier. Because Trump likes gold!

One such design, which was approved by Mr. Trump and paid for by the Republican National Committee, is thicker, wider and more gold than those of preceding presidents, and bears his campaign slogan ‘Make America Great Again,’ as well as his name — emblazoned three times. Missing was a traditional staple of presidential challenge coins: the presidential seal with the national motto, E pluribus unum, or ‘Out of many, one.'”

Actually, now that I read that more closely, I am outraged! I’m outraged that the New York Times wasted ink on this dumb story.

I’m supposed to be mad because the president likes gold? Heck, I like gold. Maybe we can somehow steer Trump’s love of the yellow metal into reestablishing some type of monetary gold standard. You want to see outrage – let’s do that!

Admittedly, there was one issue the paper brought up that could be problematic. One of the challenge coins featured Trump’s private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, on the front. This does, as the Times put it, create “a blurring of the lines between his presidency and both his campaign and business operations.”

OK, I get that. But in the big scheme of things, so what? I’m more concerned that the president might wreck the economy with his insane trade war. I’m worried about the potential for stagflation looming on the horizon. I’m worried about starving children in Yemen.

Yeah. I know. I don’t have my priorities straight. I’ve been told that before.

Now, I’ve got some bad news. You’re going to have a hard time getting your hands on one of these challenge coins. They tend to circulate within a small circle of collectors hanging around the president. But every once in a while, a challenge coin will find its way into the public. One Trump challenge coin reportedly sold on eBay for over $1,000.

Would that be a good investment? I’m not sure. Buying numismatic coins is always a risky proposition. You generally pay a high premium and you may or may not ever get that back. If you’re looking for value, you’re much better off buying gold bullion coins. You’re basically investing in the value of the metal, not some intangible, subjective factor. Plus, if you ever buy a Trump challenge coin, some of your friends will surely be outraged. Actually, now that I think about it, that might be a feature, not a flaw.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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About The Author

Michael Maharrey is the managing editor of the SchiffGold blog, and the host of the Friday Gold Wrap Podcast and It's Your Dime interview series.
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