Let's get serious. As morbidly fascinating as the "Trump circus" has been so far, it's time we took a deep breath and acknowledged something that the media has known all along: Donald Trump, a rich, idiosyncratic blowhard with no discernible grind-it-out stamina, is absolutely, positively guaranteed to drop out of this race.
When the circus comes to town, it stays only a few days, and then leaves. Cognizant of wearing out its welcome, the circus has no illusions about its long-term staying power. And the same is true of Trump.
Not only is he guaranteed to drop out of the race, he already knows it. It's true. He already knows it and the media already know it. Just as a sprinter has to realize that he or she has got no chance of winning a 26-mile marathon, Trump has to be aware that, come election time, he will be long gone.
Still, the man deserves credit for tapping into what ails us. Trump's "success" is testimony to our near vomitus revulsion of political hypocrisy and posturing. He gets ovations when he says he's too rich to be bought; ovations when he says "no one owns him"; ovations when he promises not to sugarcoat the truth; ovations when he says he'll build a wall.
Of course, people love his rude treatment of the mainstream media. That's partly because we resent "smarty pants" newspeople, and partly because we don't trust them. The Left distrusts the media because the media are too mealy-mouthed and unwilling to offend the Establishment. The Right distrusts them because they refuse to reveal all those conspiracies that we know are out there.
But, alas, when it comes to the unglamorous business of actually knowing something about foreign and domestic policy, Trump is beyond ignorant. He's an embarrassment. Yes, he's rich. But Ross Perot was rich. Howard Hughes was rich. Kim Kardashian is rich. Does that mean they should be president?
Perhaps Gore Vidal was right when he said, "Unlike Europeans, Americans have never hated the rich, only envied them." Maybe peoples' bulging bank accounts can fool us into thinking they are more qualified than they are. But not the media. Money can't fool the media (at least not for long).
Indeed, in the matter of intellectual gravitas, Trump makes Ross Perot look like Venerable Bede. When Chuck Todd (on Meet the Press) reminded him he had called Hillary Clinton the "worst Secretary of State in history" and asked who he considered the "second worst," Trump had no answer. Not only did he dodge the question, for one instant he looked panicky. It was obvious he couldn't name any previous secretaries.
In any event, this is how Trump quits. He goes out on his own terms, which is to say, as a martyr, sadly declaring that our political system is so entrenched in hypocrisy and corruption, so infested with maggots, that even a man of his caliber -- a man so rich and principled that he can't be "bought" -- is forced to withdraw.
Which is how he "wins." He wins by withdrawing before he loses. He wins by being remembered as the one guy who might have genuinely made a difference -- the one guy who was willing to do what needed to be done -- if only we had given him a chance.
And while that may be how an adoring constituency remembers him, it won't be how the media remember him. Far from it. From day one, the media had him pegged for the self-aggrandizing dilettante he was. They saw it from Day One. Trust the media.