When I was a kid way back in the previous century, my favorite attraction at the local county fair was a midway amusement that everyone called "dunk the dimwit" -- or words to that effect.
A loudmouth clown sat on a collapsible platform over a barrel of water and shouted insults at the passing crowd. He wasn't terribly creative, as I recalled. He kept shouting pretty much the same trash talk over and over again. But it seemed to work, especially when he teased some macho-looking guy who was strolling by with his girlfriend.
You can guess what came next. Some guys would empty their wallets buying balls to throw and make the clown fall in the water.
Then the alleged dimwit would get back up, shout "High and dry! High and dry!" and go back into his routine as if nothing had happened, despite the water dripping from his shoes.
I could have watched that guy all day. What showmanship. I thought he had the best job in the world. Here he got to do things my parents wouldn't allow me to do -- insult people and go swimming with my street clothes on -- and get paid for it.
That's why I admire Donald Trump. When I see the motormouth business mogul with the curious hairstyle, I see that old clown at the county fair again. This is especially true when I watch Trump test the waters for what he says is a possible presidential run. What began for him as a tentative toe dip has turned into a speedboat to Crazy Town.
In fact, the question of the moment has become whether "The Apprentice" host has become the Rev. Al Sharpton of the Republican Party -- or the Charlie Sheen of reality TV.
Frankly, I still predict that Trump will not actually run. As soon as the current season of "The Apprentice" ends, along with Trump's need to publicize it, I expect him to bow out. I don't think he wants to reveal his income tax returns or be accountable to his public in any of the other ways that real candidates are required to be.
That's why Trump steers attention away from himself, even to the point of raising questions about Obama's college grades. "I heard he was a terrible student, terrible," Trump said in an interview with the Associated Press. "How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? I'm thinking about it, I'm certainly looking into it. Let him show his records."
Of course, it is Trump who is sounding like a broken record. Sitting high and dry just like that water-barrel clown, it didn't take the Donald long to figure out that no candidate goes unnoticed who panders to the Obamaphobes.
Next thing you know, Trump will be calling for Obama's driving test results. Evidence? He doesn't need any blinking evidence when he's already tied for first place with Fox TV host and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, another undeclared Republican possibility, in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll of Republican voters.
Poor Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, came in fourth place, behind former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and tied with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Trump's publicity triumph is aided by the oddness of this election year. For the first time since 1952 the Grand Old Party's voters, who tend to respect seniority more than Democrats do, face a presidential primary season without a clear frontrunner. Nature abhors a vacuum. That's why nature created Donald Trump. He's always ready to fill an empty room, even if it is with nothing but chutzpah and ego.
And Obama, among other Dems, can only be delighted by Trump's rather proud ignorance of domestic and world affairs. Questioned about the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision on NBC, for example, he sounded downright perplexed to be asked whether he thought there was a "right to privacy in the Constitution," even though that right is the famous legal principle on which Roe is grounded.
Regarding gas prices? In an ABC interview he said he seize the Saudi oil fields or threaten to take away U.S. security protection from the Saudis if they didn't toe Trumps line. Imagine what that would do the gasoline prices. Ten dollars a barrel, anyone?
But, alas, I don't expect we in the media will have Trump to kick around much longer. That will be a relief for the GOP. To win general elections, they have to reach out to crucial swing voters before Trump makes his party look like a Grand Old Nuthouse.