I like what Bill Cosby said about the possibility that Donald Trump, he of the weirdly sculpted hair and preposterous views, might run for president: "I don't care."
But the fact that new polling of likely Republican primary voters finds the self-promoter tied with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (17 percent each) just behind former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (21 percent) on their wish list for the 2012 GOP nomination deserves some scrutiny.
It is tempting to say they're all nuts. But the more likely rationale for anyone to say "I want Trump to be president of the country" is a huge amount of disgust and frustration with current leaders in Washington. And there's the natural tendency of Republicans to lust after business people, such as Romney, even over-the-top real estate moguls, such as Trump, whose corporations file for bankruptcy, who routinely discard spouses (Trump's on his third marriage) and who have no clue about serious national issues.
Trump's insistence that he doubts that President Obama was born in the United States is proof positive he is not to be taken seriously. The canard that the president was not born in America has been debunked so decisively that Trump can only be called a liar who's trying to seduce the fringe element of the Tea Partiers.
("Birthers" are paranoid delusionals and conspiracy nuts who have no respect for truth in striving desperately to find excuses to hate the president. The state of Hawaii vouches for Obama's birth and newspapers at the time duly recorded it. Trump's claim that Obama's step grandmother said she was present at Obama's birth -- in Kenya -- has been thoroughly rejected. She allegedly said that to a translator on the telephone before she corrected herself to say Obama was born in Hawaii. This is truly one of the stupidest debates in U.S. history.)
No one has ever accused the bombastic Trump of being thoughtful. His foreign policy views are ridiculous, designed to appeal to know-nothings. He wants to shut U.S. borders. He does not want the United States involved in any way in the Middle East. He says South Korea does not help offset the cost of keeping 28,500 U.S. military personnel stationed there. (Politifact says that is not true; South Korea pays the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars to defray the cost of keeping the peace on the Korean peninsula.)
Trump, who popularized the nasty "you're fired" put-down, says he won't say whether he's running for president or not because if he decides to run, NBC would have to cancel his reality TV show and that wouldn't be "fair" to the network.
In an era when economic and international crises erupt daily, demanding knowledge and careful analysis, Trump's flagrant appropriation of the political climate for further self- aggrandizement is breathtakingly cynical. On the other hand, he's perfect to reflect the childish display of ineptitude seen in Washington D.C. these days.
And then there's the basic question of why any normal, sane human being would want to be president. Trump's arrogant answer: "I will do the best job." In truth, he is creating jobs -- he sent "investigators" to Hawaii to search for Obama's birth certificate (which Hawaii put online). Not surprisingly, the investigators report they have to stay a bit longer.
What Trump's dramatic, implausible rise to near the top of the celebrity ladder on the road to the 2012 election really says is that the field is not settled. Once serious candidates start declaring, the Trump balloon will deflate faster than a news cycle.
Here's a flat-out prediction. When we inaugurate a president on January 20, 2013, the raised hand taking the oath of office on the Capitol steps will not belong to Donald Trump.
Trump will still be on Celebrity Alley pushing his name and persona to promote yet another loony-tunes venture that mainly profits Trump. I, among many, won't care.
Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986.