Projecting executive intelligence: The real secret to Trump's success

Trump presents himself as a big winner: rich, powerful, self-confident, his name on buildings and golf courses around the world. He makes great deals! (As perhaps you’ve heard him say a time or two.) Remember the question Bill O’Reilly used to ask when his show was gaining traction back in the 1990s? “Who’s looking out for you?” Trump offers himself as the answer to that question.

Now you, as a sophisticated reader of political websites, appreciate that these boasts are mostly malarkey. Trump’s deals have often failed, he’s the least bankable name in real estate, and at this point he probably owes more of his wealth to his TV stardom than to his business acumen. Trump’s done well for himself—but not nearly so well for investors, lenders, or anybody else who ever trusted him.

But the question, as always in politics, is, “Compared to what?” It’s really striking how many of the elite-preferred rivals to Trump have records either zero executive accomplishments at all (Rubio, Cruz, Carson, Paul) or else of actual outright failure (Fiorina).

The case of Rubio is especially striking. What has Rubio ever done?