Even gazillionaires like presents. So, in the spirit of the season, here are some gift suggestions, culled from our annual review of catalogues, for the politicians we have gotten to know far too well this year.
(And, yes, this will be the richest Cabinet in history, with an astonishing number of billionaires.)
For Dr. Ben Carson, the pediatric surgeon who ran for president but later said he didn’t have the experience to run anything in Donald Trump’s administration, we suggest the hot new Barbie “smart house,” which has an elevator and a collapsing staircase and is still available on Amazon for $226. Carson should learn something about housing before he takes over as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Rick “Oops” Perry, the former Texas governor who couldn’t remember the Department of Energy as one of three federal agencies he wanted to eliminate one of the times he ran for president, should receive a memory enhancer and stress reducer as he joins Trump as energy secretary. How about Hammacher Schlemmer’s “superior headache relieving wrap” at $59.95, or, if you really care, its “personal oxygen bar” for $399.95.
Rex Tillerson, the Exxon Mobil CEO who is best buddies with Russia’s Vladimir Putin (who interfered in the election to tarnish our reputation), has been chosen by Trump to be the nation’s top diplomat as secretary of state. Tillerson should have the Orvis classic wooden USA puzzle for $29 to remind him he’s supposed to work for Americans, not Russia or Big Oil.
Betsy DeVos, the billionaire who wants to gut the public school system, will head the Department of Education. On her desk she needs Fat Brain Toys’ Newton’s Cradle for $21.95. With this toy, energy travels hypnotically from sphere to sphere and will remind her that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, who has spent much of his time suing the Environmental Protection Agency, is going to run … yes, the EPA. Pruitt scoffs that 99 percent of the world’s scientists are wrong in asserting that climate change is a proven reality. He needs Fat Brain’s Big Bag of Science, selling for $44.95, or the Science in a Minute book set for $31.95.
Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants (Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s), is to be secretary of labor. He opposes raising the minimum wage and wrote a book described as a “blistering attack” on regulating business and against unions. He should have Sharper Image’s $449.99 “amazing” Hover Board to help him go straight and make the occasional left turn instead of always veering to the right.
Wall Street billionaire Vincent Viola will be secretary of the Army. He is a 1977 West Point graduate best known as the owner of the Florida Panthers. To help him get up to speed on the modern Army, we recommend Hammacher Schlemmer’s $259.95 remote-controlled Abrams tank. Its crewed 50-caliber gun “shimmies with realistic sound” when fired and can have up to 30-minute engagements. It comes with 15 pellets to fire at targets 20 feet away. Maintenance required.
Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, first senator to endorse Trump, was considered too racist to be confirmed as a federal judge in 1986. Nominated to be attorney general, in charge of enforcing civil rights laws, he’s been accused of joking about the Ku Klux Klan and calling a black lawyer “boy.” He should have National Geographic’s illustrated books on the founder of Christianity, $40 each, to help him figure out what Jesus would do.
Trump has chosen David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel. Friedman is a bankruptcy lawyer without diplomatic experience or background in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Friedman supports illegal Jewish settlements and wants his office in Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, insulting Palestinians. We think it would be worth spending $60,000 to occupy him with mastering Hammacher Schlemmer’s Flying Fire Breathing Dragon which “emits a three-foot blast of flame from a cleverly concealed … propane tank and igniter built into its toothy maw.” (Free delivery.)
As for the next president, he is so rich (he says) that the only thing we think he needs is Orvis’s “Fifty Things Every Gentleman Should Know,” which promises the reader will “master the skills to gain trust and respect, from shaking hands to paying a compliment.” At $29, we think this is the best bargain around. If it works.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.