The Republican Party, the pundit class, the news-watching public of the United States — nay, the wide, wide world — all these have to be wondering right now just how long Donald Trump, the deal-making Manhattan billionaire and reality-show celebrity, can do the bumblebee trick of staying airborne in the presidential race without visible means of either navigation or flotation.
Come to think of it, The Donald actually somewhat resembles a bumblebee in his general contours and coloration, not to mention the nuisance factor he presents to the over-fastidious.
Some might say that the real question is not how long Trump might stay in that rarefied air but how he got there in the first place. Let us suggest that both questions have the same answer. It is Trump's unparalleled self-confidence — or, as some might put it, his unmitigated gall.
Unmitigated: That's an interesting word, and a key one in coming to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. It is beginning to be obvious that nothing Donald Trump is, does, or says is mitigated in the slightest, or ever has been.
Does what he say on any political subject under the sun make sense — from Mexican "rapists" to the unheroic nature of legendary American P.O.W.'s to the hormonal influence on female TV anchors who ask him pesky questions? Of course not. Are the opinions he expresses today from the stump — on subjects ranging from abortion to government subsidies to intervention in foreign countries — the same as he used to express back when he considered himself a Democrat? (Look it up, folks. That part of his life is fairly recent.) Once again, of course not.
But that's part of the Trump magic. Not only has he been able to adjust to the overcooked atmosphere of today's Republicanism, one gathers he could just as well proclaim himself a socialist or a vegetarian candidate and make it seem perfectly acceptable to his rabid admirers.
Interestingly, Trump's crowds are as delighted to see him come off the top of his head with the non-sequiturs that happen to occur to him on the stump as are, on the Democratic side, the throngs that are now coming out to see and hear Bernie Sanders, a legitimate and coherent bona fide socialist, who knows exactly what he thinks and why.
That Trump's extraordinary confidence is based only in himself, while Sanders' is based on his belief in his politics is beside the point. Neither man is premeditating or calculating anything. They are just being who they are, sans focus groups, pollsters, consultants, Venn diagrams, fund-raising mavens, or what-have-you.
We like watching The Donald for the same reason as everybody else, evidently. He's high-handed, vain, pompous, etc., etc., just as he was when, for the most arbitrary of reasons, he would decide which sycophantic celebrity to "fire" on his TV show. But, he is unfiltered. A rare thing, indeed, in this era of bought-and-packaged pols.
Do we want him to win? Oh no, we're not crazy, but we enjoy seeing him rattle the cages. And we have faith: There's got to be a high side to all this. Maybe the national GOP will have to rebuild from scratch. Now that would be the ticket!