The Bush Brand
To piggy-back on Wreden's thoughts, here are my top-five ways Bush has created and maintained his brand. In my humble, democratic opinion, in no order.
1) "W" bumper stickers during the election. Brilliant. Capitalize on a nickname created by the people. The stickers elevated his recognition to a level that left those corny, traditional presidential bumper stickers at the stoplight. Made a "we don't need campaign swag to compete" statement.
2) Speak honestly. The public picks up on tone change in speeches, conversation and quotes - more than we PR-folks give the public credit for. Consistency counts - not only in content but in tone. Bush's handlers don't try to make him sound like someone he's not. Depressing that I have a better command of the language than my president? Yes. However, when Bush is constantly picked apart for telling the truth, keeping his tone true is the best defense.
3) Belts. Many presidents try to wear casual belts and they fail. Bush's vacation belts look good. This illustrates a broader point: When Bush is at "home" on the "ranch" he looks like I might look if I grew up on a ranch. It's not forced, he looks relaxed in his own skin. Clinton never looked good out of a suit. Reagan looked good in street clothes. It means something.
4) Did not marry Hillary. Could there be a better way to preserve your brand? Here's to Laura Bush.
5) Keeps friends. Bush may not be good at making friends, but he's a master at keeping friends - and keeping them around. Loyalty is an important image, and whether you agree or disagree with his cabinet, it's filled with people who would wreck their mountain bike for Bush.
And yes, Virginia, I did just say five nice things about President Bush.
Now go to Google.com, type in "failure" and hit the "feeling lucky" button.