from The Trump Lesson that Bush and Clinton Should Heed by Jonah Goldberg in Townhall
Donald Trump, meanwhile, isn’t even a politician. He’s a low-rent carnival barker who made it big on the high-rent circuit. An honest political consultant would put his fees in jeopardy by giving it to him straight: “For the love of all that is holy, don’t be yourself.”
Back in the real campaign, there’s an interesting lesson in Trump’s ineluctable fate. For months I’ve argued that Jeb Bush is the weakest of the top-tier candidates to take on Hillary Rodham Clinton. When you have a competition between two brands, the better brand tends to win. The Clinton brand is simply much more popular than the Bush brand, for reasons we all know.
And that’s still true. But a brand is also strongest in the abstract. A Clinton may beat a Bush, but voters won’t be asked to vote for “a Clinton,” they’ll be asked to vote for a specific Clinton, namely Hillary. Jeb’s last name is a problem he can transcend by being himself. Hillary’s last name is an asset she damages whenever she’s herself.
In truth, Bush is not a contender for the role of “the Most Interesting Man in the World” in those Dos Equis commercials either. But he is showing himself to be a grown-up who is neither easily rattled nor interested in pandering to the crowd. He can get ahead of his family name in a way Clinton clearly cannot. Moreover, nearly all of the other GOP contenders have transparently better retail political skills than Clinton.
Donald Trump stakes much of his fortune on the alleged value of the Trump brand. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy rests on a similar assumption about the Clinton name. Both fail to take into account the fact that personality trumps brand.