For the past month now, Donald Trump's fellow GOP presidential candidates have looked on helplessly, like wallflowers at a prom that never ends, waiting for the big bellied king to loosen his cummerbund and step out of the spotlight, which he doesn't look inclined to ever do.
That's because his love of the spotlight has actually been the most enduring romance of his life. To him there isn't a building or a plot of land on earth that isn't instantly improved by slapping a giant Trump sign on top of it (in gold lettering, of course, because that's classy).
Now he would like to slap a Trump sign over the USA, and so his disastrous five alarm presidential run is probably as close as he will ever come to that elusive fantasy.
The reason that Trump is so damaging to the GOP's election chances in 2016 is that he genuinely does not care what people think of him.
Real showboats never do. The attention he attracts can be positive or negative, critical or supportive. He really doesn't care, as long as he has your full attention.
But as he bolsters his own brand with eye-poppingly bigoted statements calculated to delight his base, he is deeply tarnishing the GOP's brand by associating them with his rabid right political and social views. Meanwhile, the other GOP candidates are floundering in his shadow.
Probably the most straightforward explanation for Trump's frontrunner status among the current Republican presidential crop is that people are interested in him. That does not imply that they like him, or approve of him, or share his views, or desire him to lead the United States.
What it implies is that they are simply aware of who he is, an advantage he enjoys over most of the current GOP crowded field.
While Trump has been pursuing the world's attention, his unconventional speeches have been inspiring voting blocs that rarely hear their views expressed on the national stage. Anti-immigration activists have had reason to hug themselves with delight at his hardline pronouncements, having finally found a candidate who is willing to demagogue the issue as much as they do themselves.
But there's another constituency that Trump forgets that the wiser GOP establishment can not. His recent suggestion that Mexican immigrants are mostly thieves and rapists could inspire America's enraged and massive Latino vote to turn out in record numbers to defeat the GOP's candidate in next year's presidential election.
Last week The Huffington Post took the decision to report stories about Trump as entertainment, deciding his candidacy was so satirical it didn't deserve sober political coverage. Other outlets have taken their point but have not followed suit.
That's because they understand that Trump is one of the great symbols of our dramatically unequal age. He's the cigar smoking, top hat wearing millionaire on the Monopoly box come to life. He's the very model of a model American plutocrat.
He's the human avatar of entitlement and greed. He's the ugly reflection of where we all are, and how far we have fallen. In other words, he's a reminder of how low the age we live in actually is.
No wonder we're all fascinated. He's both the American Dream and its sordid underbelly, a vivid reminder to us all that the worst people in the country are often the ones who get to live it up while the rest of us struggle. If he's a star he's the one we'd want to navigate away from, not toward. Eventually we will.
He tells reporters he wants the nation to believe in the American Dream again, but his dream began with a $20 million cash injection from his father, uncommonly firm ground to build dream on.
Eventually the American public, who have been force fed on a lifelong diet of fantasy riches that are as fake as a Hollywood backlot, will tire of this dumbshow and of Trump himself.
But first they want to gawk at the spectacle. What the GOP dreads is that they will learn something from it.
Trump likes to build exclusive golf courses for millionaires, which is handy because next year, after his disastrous presidential run comes to an end, he'll probably be able to accommodate what's left of the Republican Party in one.