Op-ed: Naming rights right now!

  • By Bob Franken
  • Tuesday, December 20, 2016 4:15pm
  • Opinion

My loyal readers, both of them, possibly remember that I’ve long championed some outside-the-box ways to reduce the deficit before we’re overwhelmed with national debt. High on the list is naming rights. Our agencies could rake in billions of dollars by allowing corporations and other deep-pocketed special interests to hang their logos on their buildings.

It would be a symbol not only of the oligarchs’ patriotism, but a way of showing that they’ve totally taken over and will direct the policies developed inside. In spite of the obvious merit of this idea — and my other suggestions (e.g., turn Guantanamo Bay into a condominium development, a gated community for rich people, and making the public viewing seats of the House and Senate, known as galleries, privately owned loges where fat cats can observe the members on Congress below doing their bidding) — these proposals never were given the consideration they deserved.

But miracle among miracles, maybe, just maybe, my improbable dream has come true! In Donald Trump. We have elected a president who has put his name on structures around the world. He’s sort of like a dog raising his leg to mark his territory. He’s a believer. To me, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he will move his entire operation down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Trump International Hotel D.C. It would be a kind of his-and-hers thing, since it would match the Trump Tower suite where his wife and son have chosen to live. Has it occurred to anyone that Melania decided to do that because she’s sick and tired of her husband? To quote The Donald, “I don’t know, but many people say …” that’s the case. But I digress.

A scenario that many people are talking about (OK, maybe just one person, including me) would have Trump moving out of the White House and turning it into another hotel. One complication would be whether the profits would go to his private business interests or to his public one (running the country). But it’s turning out that they will be one and the same, so I guess it’s not really a problem. Another question would be what to call the new lodgings. How about the Trump Executive Mansion? Just a thought.

It would be all Trump, all the time. The State Department, with Secretary Rex Tillerson, soon will become the new ExxonMobil Building, so why not put out front one of the same signs that we see at gas stations everywhere? Tillerson probably will want to share office space on the seventh floor with his old buddy Vladimir Putin, although Putin is demanding his own suite wherever Trump is. It can get really complex when such massive egos are involved. One issue is whether Putin gets his own sign. Will he get top billing, or will Trump? That one is still to be determined. The deliberations in Washington are intense and are secretly followed by hackers back in Moscow, the same bunch of geeks who Vladimir Putin ordered to defeat Hillary Clinton by leaking emails of the Democratic National Committee and her campaign chairman, John Podesta. Podesta is still bent out of shape, which just goes to show what a sore loser he is. Trump, for his part, refuses to believe it — or all the nation’s intelligence agencies who say that’s exactly what happened.

Another open question is whether to place Trump signs along that wall to be built on the Mexican border, or to sell naming rights mile by mile. The compromise is obvious: We can install both. In English and Spanish. The difference between the wall and the naming-rights plan is that the wall is never going to happen. As for the branding rights, it’s an idea whose time has come. Finally.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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