Presidents who have a sense of limited presidential power

The Times gently points out that Trump isn’t in a position to tell us what hiking gear to buy.

L.L. Bean, the Maine retailer known for its boots, jackets and preppy New England aesthetic, has found itself embroiled in a partisan battle that Donald J. Trump reignited on Thursday with a tweet.

Faced with a boycott over a Bean family member’s contribution to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, Shawn Gorman, L.L. Bean’s executive chairman, declared four days ago that “we stay out of politics.”

But then Trump perpetrated that grotesque tweet:

His tweet appeared to be responding to the thousands of dollars in donations that Linda Bean, who is a granddaughter of the company’s founder, offered during his presidential campaign. The donations turned out to be illegal.

They turned out to be illegal because they were to a political action committee aka a PAC, and donations to PACs as opposed to super PACs are capped, and she was over the cap. Don’t ask me to explain, I think our election laws are ridiculous and corrupt and shaming.

The company distanced itself from Linda Bean and said it “does not endorse political candidates, make political contributions or support any political agenda.”

As for Trump’s crass “Buy L.L. Bean” command on Twitter…

Federal law prohibits employees of the government’s executive branch from endorsing products, but the rule does not apply to the president or the president-elect.

It’s unavoidable that American leaders would have personal preferences for products — President Obama famously loved his BlackBerry — but publicly suggesting that Americans buy them is highly unusual, said Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian.

“It’s rare, if ever, that presidents do this,” he said. “In general, presidents who have a sense of limited presidential power do not want to extend that power to the point of suggesting to Americans which products to buy.”

Normal presidents understand that they’re not suddenly our Daddy and entitled to tell us all what to do in every particular. Trump is not a normal president or human being.

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