We shouldn’t maltreat our idols: the gilt comes off on our hands.
— Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
It was such a huge hit at CPAC in Miami that it’s hard to know where to begin describing it. I refer, of course, to the six-foot-tall golden sculpture of the trump that was on display at the gathering. The upper part of the sculpture wears a jacket and tie, and the lower half somewhat incongruously, at least to this observer, is wearing a pair of shorts that are a likeness of the American flag. To complete the sculpture, the sculpture is wearing slip flops. The sculpture itself is made of fiberglass and weighs about 200 pounds. Its genesis and its creation are of almost as much interest as the finished product.
According to reports, the model for the sculpture was not the trump himself but a likeness of him that can be found online in what is known as a “Trump Bobblehead.” The trump bobbleheads have various incarnations but are amazing replicas of the trump himself. They are called bobbleheads because the head of the figure is loosely attached to the model itself so that it can move in almost any direction when the figure is moved, movement that is described as “boggling.” That could easily have been the word used to described the trump’s actions during the time he lived in the White House.
When the sculpture first entered our consciousness we were told it had been created by Tommy Zegan. Tommy describes himself as a long-time trump fan and told reporters that he began working on the sculpture in 2018. He said that the actual sculpture was made in Rosarito, Mexico. Notwithstanding Tommy’s statement that the sculpture was made in Mexico, we soon learned that it had in fact not been made in Mexico, but had been made in China. Zegan resisted initially disclosing that fact because of the trump’s dislike of China and his attribution to China of the Corona virus.
Although Tommy initially took all the credit for the creation of the sculpture, it turns out he had a collaborator. The collaborator was Mexican artist José Mauricio Mendoza. José explained that his participation in the creation of the sculpture was not disclosed because it was thought that trump supporters would not be interested in admiring or buying a sculpture made by a Mexican. In one video describing the project, however, José is described as “art director and co-founder” thus giving credit where credit was due.
The sculpture was the hit of the conference to no one’s great surprise. Throughout the conference, attendees were seen standing by the sculpture having their pictures taken. In response to those who said that the sculpture was an idol, however, Mr. Zegan said the sculpture was definitely not an idol. As he explained, “An idol is something somebody worships and bows down to. This is a sculpture. It’s two different things.” He may have been prompted to make that explanation because of a widely circulated photo of the sculpture that had been doctored to show a group of evangelical leaders praying over the sculpture. Such a gathering had not in fact taken place. The picture was altered to create that impression. That does not mean that there was no prayerful adoration of the trump at the CPAC gathering-just not of his statue. There were unlimited speeches by the likes of Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley that consisted of prayerful adoration of the trump and all his many accomplishments.
The sculpture on display at the CPAC conference has now been retired. It is being auctioned on eBay. As of this writing the highest bid is $50,200. Given the great success of the work, it is a virtual certainty additional bids will come in when an adoring public discovers that the sculpture is for sale. Tommy hopes that the sale of the sculpture to a private investor will not mark the end of the sculpture’s life as a public memorial to the trump. That is because Tommy’s creative skills were not limited to the fiberglass version on display at the conference and now being sold on eBay. Tommy also created a stainless-steel version of the sculpture. And his hopes for where that sculpture may reside has suggested an answer to one question that has been on many lips since the trump left the White House. The question is, what should be put in a trump presidential library.
The trump presidential library should house the many different kinds of television sets that were in use during the trump’s years in the White House. They should be tuned to different channels playing recordings of the trump visiting with commentators on Fox news and similar news outlets, as well as reruns of the trump’s most exciting public appearances before adoring crowds. Other sets should display the thousands of presidential tweets created by him during his tenure. Tommy’s suggestion of adding a stainless-steel sculpture of the trump wearing a coat, tie, American flag shorts and flip flops, would not only lend dignity to what might otherwise seem an informal display, but would add a touch of class to the trump presidential library that it may otherwise be lacking. Thanks to the inclusion of their sculpture in the library, Tommy and José would, like trump, be forever remembered for their great accomplishment.