"Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it."
Donald Trump in 40 words or fewer.
Understand, now: Those words aren't from The Donald. They're from The Joker, lines cackled by the crooked-faced one in the 2008 Batman installment, "The Dark Knight."
We imagine Trump in his darkened Trump Tower screening room back then, pondering how one day he'd run the world, hearing the line and saying, "Damn. Wish I'd said that."
"I don't know what to do" would have been a heap better than what Trump told Chris Matthews when asked about how he'd handle women who had abortions if, as Trump said he'd prefer, abortion were illegal.
Trump said they should be punished, before backing away from the statement, then appearing to oppose any change in the law, before appearing to change his mind again, before appearing to change it again, before rolling the dice and advancing his token to Boardwalk.
Listen to Trump and one wonders if it is all a game, this governance stuff. Does it really matter what he says?
Here's the thing, though. What Trump said about punishing desperate women is, well . . . Let's let a Huffington Post headline express it: "Donald Trump accidentally articulates GOP abortion stance a little too loudly."
Let's face it, writes HuffPost's Jason Linkins. If abortion is a crime – "murder," "a holocaust," sayeth the anti-choice brigade, punishment of the perpetrators is only fitting. Trump enunciated "the actual implications of Republican policies" on abortion.
A dog never contemplates what it would do if it caught the car. And neither do those who want government to mandate that all pregnant women gestate until term. How to punish? Whom to punish? How to determine if a pregnancy ended naturally or unnaturally?
John Kasich says he opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity. How would President Kasich enforce an exemption for rape or incest? Would the victim be required to appeal to a judge, and then have to wait on legally adjudicated facts about her rape (and apprehension and conviction of the rapist?) before getting the state's permission to end her pregnancy?
This makes it more efficient to do as Ted Cruz would, and require the rape victim to endure her assailant's seed all the way to the delivery room.
Republican leaders constantly are chasing cars without so much as a clue about what to do if they sunk their teeth into it.
Consider the Affordable Care Act. Republicans in the House have voted 62 times to abolish it. Not once have they suggested an alternative to it and what to do with the millions of Americans who would lose coverage without it.
Back to Trump and his riveting on-screen performances as Two-Face:
Abortion rights is just one matter on which he's shown he hasn't given much thought to what governance means. CNN has run down a list of them, and they're most curious.
For instance, on immigration, Trump told the New York Times editorial board that his ironclad vow to deport all undocumented individuals was "negotiable." And after saying he would ban new Muslim immigrants, he has said he'd accept "rich Muslims."
Trump has laid out multiple and contradictory positions on torture, on the Iraq incursion, on the Afghanistan occupation, on gun control, and, of all things, nuclear proliferation.
On the one hand calling it the "biggest problem" in the world, he's turned around and said he'd like to see Japan and South Korea nuclear-armed.
"Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?" – The Joker.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.