Either Folio Weekly is experiencing “the change” or it’s getting hot, hot, hot in the Bold City! In less than two weeks, Jacksonville has been graced with the presence of not one, but two, Republican presidential candidates. On Saturday, Oct. 24, Donald J. Trump descended, Voldemort-like, on a moist crowd at The Landing; on Monday, Nov. 2, John Ellis “Jeb”/“don’t-call-me-Dubya’s-mini-me” Bush slithered in and out of the air-conditioned enclave of Kaman Aerospace on the Northside.
It’s often said that like begets like, but the Grand Ol’ Party could not have spawned two more outwardly different candidates. From skin tone – Trump’s tangerine-tinted mug is the envy of Oompa Loompas everywhere, while Jeb! rocks a lighter shade of pale that is all the rage among WASPs – to speaking style – Trump blathers on in semi-coherent gotcha phrases guaranteed to whip his mouth-breathing supporters into a lather while Jeb! speaks in complete sentences that neither escalate nor diminish in pitch regardless of what he’s talking about; their personality brands could not be more different.
Make no mistake, fair voters — for politicians, personality is a brand. And the more powerful the politician, the more manufactured the personality. Which means presidential candidates’ public personas are about as authentic as a Doritos marketing campaign. In spite of both campaigns’ efforts to show how unequivocally different Bushx3 and Trump-a-brain-dump are, they are actually as similar as anyone paying attention would expect. Before you recoil in horror, “But, FW, they seem so different on the news!” let’s peel this onion, shall we? Here is some pre-masticated food for thought:
1. Box Checking. Both Trump and Bush are white, male, Christian American Baby Boomers from exceptionally privileged families who have spawned multiple children and have an ambition to be the most powerful Republican puppet in all the land.
2. Daddy’s Boys. Trump inherited millions of dollars from his father. Bush inherited millions of dollars from his father[’s donors]. Both are following in their father’s career footsteps.
3. Offer Good While Supplies Last. Both are selling some seriously strange “Made in America” schwag on their campaign sites. For Trump it’s a – not kidding – “Trump Presidential Dog Raglan.” (Because what dog wouldn’t want to sport a Make America Great Again sweater?!) For Bush, it’s a $75 “Guaca Bowle.” We can only presume that the Bush family is so fly, they abbreviate ‘guacamole’ AND add an ‘e’ to ‘bowl.’ And yet so out of touch they don’t realize that $75 for a bowl, ‘e’ or not, is just a rip-off.
4. The Issues. A quick slosh into the shallow puddle of Trump’s platform and the actually thought-out (aka guaranteed to lose the Republican nomination) Bush platform reveals that not only do both have extremely close relationships with exclamation points, but they also want to:
a. Lower taxes (surprise! not) for middle-class losers like us and, of course, their rich-rich-rich corporate friends;
b. Unchain the invisible hand of the free market;
c. Reform, modernize and improve the Department of Veterans’ Affairs;
d. Build the military industrial complex because, duh, spending more on defense than the next seven highest-spending countries combined isn’t enough;
e. Increase border security;
f. Republican talking point;
g. Evangelical voter hot-button issue;
h. NRA pandering; and
i. Blah, blah, blah … I’m bored, you get the point.
5. Gorilla Marketing. Bush’s new thing is, apparently, his purple tie. (And all along we thought his thing was underwhelming at every opportunity!) Bush loves ties that are about the same color as Barney the Dinosaur – possibly because it’s his big brother’s favorite show – so much, he repeated in Tampa and Jacksonville, “Sorry, but the purple tie isn’t going anywhere.” It’s so subversive they coined a hashtag for it: #JebNoFilter. As for Trump, in addition to seeming to actively prefer closely resembling an orangutan, he is obviously not listening to anyone, except perhaps the Minions in his head.