August 31, 2023

Trump’s Mug Shot

Former U.S. President Donald Trump's historic mug shot, posted by a Georgia courthouse [last] Thursday evening, is being turned into T-shirts, shot glasses, mugs, posters and even bobblehead dolls by friends and foes alike.” Reuters

Both sides agree that the mug shot benefited Trump’s campaign:

“Trump was a showman before he was a politician, and even while governing the largest economy on the planet, Trump was known to call media personalities occasionally to offer unsolicited advice about camera angles, lighting, and posing… If you were a liberal prosecutor hellbent on ending Trump's career as the former (and possibly future) leader of the free world, why would you want to deliver him the most iconic campaign poster in political history?”
Tiana Lowe Doescher, Washington Examiner

“Even at what should be his weakest moment, personally and politically, it’s hard to avoid the impression that Trump is in his element. The bleakly historic nature of his arrest — the first time a former U.S. president has been indicted on criminal charges — is largely undercut by the fact that he’s outpolling the rest of the GOP primary field by 40 points…

“It’s a remarkable turnaround after Trump was left for dead in 2021 and banned from his preferred social-media platform. He spent years in crotchety solitude at Mar-a-Lago, then launched what looked like an extremely ill-advised presidential campaign, all with the coup-related indictments looming. His surrender in Georgia was a coming-out party of sorts, a reminder of what he really is.”
Zak Cheney-Rice, New York Magazine

“Trump quickly posted his booking photo to his Truth Social network, and used it to return to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. His campaign is already plastering it everywhere – likely to help raise the cash he’s spending on his defense and turning his shame into a new kind of power, in another affront to the justice system. For any other politician, a mug shot would be the end. For Trump, it’s a springboard.”
Stephen Collinson, CNN

“Those who have long been publicly rooting for the moment to be a humiliating experience — among them Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC, who said the booking ‘will be the greatest humiliation Donald Trump has suffered in the 77 years of his relentlessly humiliating life’ — are now appreciating the adage ‘be careful what you wish for.’ Trump supporters on social media are declaring the mugshot to be ‘the world’s biggest backfire,’ and they may not be wrong…

“In addition to freshly invigorating Trump’s supporters, the mugshot and booking delivered a one-two punch in virtually wiping [last] Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate out of the national conversation.”
Jennifer Graham, Deseret News

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Right

From the Left

A libertarian's take

“The trucking and bartering of Trump's mug shot is managing to simultaneously satisfy the mutually exclusive preferences of millions of Americans… Regardless of whether you want the man himself in the White House, in prison, or neither, everyone can get a healthy slice of consumer surplus from a Trump mug shot mug or shower curtain…

“The same isn't true of the electoral and judicial processes that Trump is wrapped up in. He'll either win or lose the presidency. He'll either be acquitted or convicted in court. The desires of Trump critics and supporters can't both be satisfied by a political system that only produces binary outcomes. One side is going to be disappointed…

“Markets, and the voluntary, mutually beneficial transactions that make them up, can navigate these intractable divides with ease. The bipartisan boom in Trump merch gives a window into a world where more of people's political passions were devoted to mutually enriching commercial endeavors. Perhaps we can't force all party politics to play out on Etsy. The more of it that does, the better off we'll be and the less cause for division and rancor we'll have in everyday life.”
Christian Britschgi, Reason

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