Who wins out of this deal? Trump. Lord knows the monetary value of all the publicity he got as the media (including, briefly, yours truly) took seriously the possibility that he would run for president. Cable television especially hung on his every outlandish charge, and turned him, briefly, into the political-analyst-in-chief.  Heck, even his fiercest critics helped him by giving him even more publicity. Trump mainly cared about whether his name was spelled right – and it is an easy name to spell.

Who has a lot to answer for? Members of the media. Why, exactly, was Trump allowed to revive the nonsensical stories about President Obama’s birth certificate? Why did so many media people fall all over themselves (okay, ourselves) to “cover” him?

There is now a strange symbiosis where self-promotion, goosing ratings, selling books, kicking off a new TV season, winning more page-views and upping speaking fees all get masked together and the resulting porridge gets labeled as “politics.” Mike Huckabee (for whom I confess to having a soft spot) and Sarah Palin (for whom I do not have a comparable soft spot) have all used the political media to enhance their market value. Now Trump – in a much shorter time -- has done the same. And the Republican contest for the presidency has been reduced to one big marketing exercise.

Think of it as the privatization of American politics. Issues, schmissues. Celebrity rules.