I got an email from Donald Trump Jr. Sunday that was a bit unsettling.
Not the fact that he reached out. Don Jr. hits me with a note most days, as do Eric and the president himself.
It was the tone of Sunday’s message that jolted me, the no-more-Mr.-Nice-Guy feel.
“I hate to do this, but according to our membership records, your Official 2020 Trump Gold Card Membership is INACTIVE,” Don Jr. led off, and I immediately sensed a chill. It’s true that my Trump Gold Card Membership is inactive. I’m only on the campaign’s mailing list because I’ve been to Trump events, so in their computers I appear as that most tantalizing of targets: a regular rally attendee who has never ponied up the contribution cash.
And I do get a kick out of the solicitations, albeit a nihilistic “welcome to the end times, would you care for a tasty beverage” brand of kick.
But still, I was shocked when Don Jr.’s tone quickly went from chilly to nearly threatening, saying: “I’m calling my father later this week to go over the most recent list of Gold Card Members, and I really don’t want to have to tell him that you STILL haven’t contributed to activate your membership.”
Gracious! What happens once the most powerful man in the world is told I STILL haven’t contributed? That escalated quickly.
Plus, I have to worry about how good the Trump team’s internal communications are. What if I contribute my $75 to get the “limited-edition Trump-Pence 2020 Welcome Mat” the president himself pushed me to purchase in emails twice in the past five days, but skip the gold card membership? Would both Dons know I’ve done my part?
And what of Eric? The middle Trump reached out recently with an offer too good to be true, or rather, too good not to generate a federal investigation.
Eric was looking for my help to meet a “$5 million deadline SO IMPORTANT that a special group of donors are TRIPLE-MATCHING ALL CONTRIBUTIONS before 11:59 PM TONIGHT.”
Offering various multipliers to donations is big with this campaign, but it’s illegal for anyone other than Trump himself to give more than $2,800. There are workarounds, because the Trump Make America Great Again Committee also funds the party and Trump’s multi-candidate political action committee, but it’s shady.
Joe Biden is a pen pal, too, but it’s different. The subject line of Biden’s last email read “A humble request.” The former vice president asked for $10, and offered no themed merchandise or club memberships or threats that the candidate would be told, and disappointed, if I do not pony up.
Speaking of Biden, the president sent me an email with the subject “Joe Biden” Tuesday to say “Honestly, I don’t even think Sleepy Joe knows what office he is running for.”
Fretting about Biden, Trump now wants me to donate $50 to become a Trump Life Member. He said, “Trump Life Members will be the most important group in ensuring victory this November, so why haven’t you joined yet? This is too critical to sit on the sidelines.”
And he’s only going to allow another 250 Trump Life Members!
But will Eric and Don Jr. be mad if I go with that offer instead of theirs? Does a Trump Life Member outrank a Trump Gold Card Member? What about my match, and my welcome mat?
It’s so confusing, all this winning. It’s so disorienting, to see the swamp finally drained.
Lane Filler is a member of Newsday's editorial board.