SOME OF THE MORE EXCITABLE mainstream commentators have mistaken Donald Trump's present political success as a sign he will, inevitably, march triumphantly into the Oval Office where he will launch his new reality television show, President: Have I Got A Deal For You! Or will that be Whoops, Apocalypse!
A local commentator prone to bouts of uncontrollable excitement is Chris Trotter. On Radio Live a chortling Trotter told an aghast Ali Mau that he was predicting a Trump presidency. Don't worry Ali, Chris Trotter's prediction is about as accurate as his claim that the Real Choice protest group was a police front.
Also worth remembering is that Trotter has a less than stellar record when it comes to political leaders. It wasn't so long ago that he was defending David Shearer as the future of the Labour Party. Then it was David Cunliffe. Then it wasn't Andrew Little. Now it is Andrew Little - but don't quote me on that.
I think Chris should have a nice cup of tea and a lie down in a darkened room.
Putting aside Trotter's fantasies, the reality is that the numbers just don't stack up for Trump.
Every time he opens his mouth and says something offensive, Trump drives more voters into the embrace of Hillary Clinton - who, more than likely (unfortunately), will be the Democratic candidate. Confined by the limitations of the American election system, people will vote Clinton simply to keep Trump out.
Thanks to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton will be able to fight the election on her terms - she'll be the 'lesser evil' fighting off the threat represented by the big bad Trump. For many people voting Clinton will be like swallowing the proverbial dead rat but, faced with the prospect of Trump sitting in the White House, that's what they will do.
Clinton is a product of the machine and she will do nothing to upset the status quo, but Trump stands no chance against her. A CNN poll in December indicated that Clinton would win by a landside - 49% to 39%.
The Republican establishment know they can't win with Trump and hence the panic. Mitt Romney's claim of a tax 'bombshell' about to be revealed about Trump's affairs is the opening salvo in a concerted bid to discredit Trump. The Republican powerbrokers might oppose Trump on philosophical and ideological grounds but far more pressing is the straightforward practical reason that he would be, to borrow one of Trumpy's favourite insults, a presidential LOSER.
Another defeat for the GOP will open up a debate about the future of the party itself. That's the real story that's missing here. While the mainstream media appears mesmerised by the Trump sideshow, little attention is being given to the possibility that a failed Trump bid for the presidency could spell the end of the GOP as a national party.
The uncomfortable truth for the Republican Party is that it can have Donald Trump or it can have a political future, but it can't have both.
It's worth noting that if Trump does not secure a majority of delegates in the present primary process that opens up the prospect of wheeling and dealing at the national convention with a 'consensus candidate' emerging to take the Republican nomination. As it stands right now, Trump has around 40 percent of the delegates.
For US socialists the answer is to defeat the reactionary politics of Donald Trump while, at the same time, rejecting the 'lesser evil' politics of the Democrats. And that means building an independent left wing alternative.