Of all the crazy things I did as a kid, none was crazier than the fire tree.

Actually, it was nothing more than a huge stump. It sat in the woods behind my house, far enough away that I and my buddies could tempt fate with a book of matches, a few containers of charcoal lighter fluid and that juvenile conviction – however misguided – that no harm could come to us no matter how reckless our behavior.

The rules were simple: Ignite the stump. Then, taking turns, aim a stream of lighter fluid at it and watch the flame creep back up the stream. Whoever let the flame get closest to his container, without blowing us all to kingdom come, won.

Which brings us to Donald Trump.

As of this morning, the man with the orange hair and the permanent tan is the presumptive nominee to represent the Republican Party – or what’s left of it – on the presidential ballot in November.

Come Saturday, in its own small way, Maine likely will add to the Trump bonfire at Republican caucuses around the state.

Propelling much of that support will be Gov. Paul LePage, who actually opposed Trump quite vigorously at a recent meeting of the Republican Governors Association.

That changed last week, however, after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie threw his weight behind Trump. LePage, apparently under the delusion that anyone on the national stage would care, quickly followed Christie’s lead on Friday and predicted Trump could be “one of the greatest presidents if he sits down and puts together a good team.”

And what if he doesn’t? What happens then?

What makes this season of Trump mania so frightening is that it’s fueled not on actual thought, but on the instant gratification of the applause line.

Forget about his supporters’ intelligence. It’s their utter lack of curiosity that’s truly stunning.

Trump promises to build the wall along the Mexican border – and to make the Mexicans pay for it.

He need not explain how.

He promises to prevent Muslims from entering the country.

He need not explain how.

He promises to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.

He need not explain how.

He promises to impose a 35 percent tariff on Ford if it builds cars in Mexico and tries to sell them here.

He need not explain how.

He promises to eradicate ISIS.

Unless “bombing the (expletive) out of them” counts as a serious military strategy, he need not explain how.

He promises to “make America great again.”

He need not explain when it stopped being so.

Despite all this and so much more – Trump’s not-so-convincing repudiation of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, his use of violent rhetoric against protesters at his rallies, his refusal to discuss his four bankruptcies – his support keeps growing … and growing … and growing …

The conventional wisdom says it’s all the result of deep-seated voter anger. I think it’s more than that.

I think some people, just like me and my buddies all those years ago, simply like playing with fire.

Watching cable TV news these days has grown akin to watching NASCAR on weekends. You can say you appreciate the skill with which all those drivers keep making all those left turns, but deep down all you’re really doing is waiting for the big wreck.

Similarly, people wonder, how far will Donald aim his flamethrower in this speech or that debate? And now that Republican rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have decided they have no choice but to fight fire with fire, how far will they go in scorching him back?

(I just turned up the volume on a Rubio rally on MSNBC. He’s comparing Donald Trump to pro-wrestler-turned-former-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. I hit the mute button again.)

Lost in all of this is any real thought about exactly what “President Donald Trump” might actually mean. It’s as if his supporters are unwilling (or perhaps unable) to even talk about that – their hopes and dreams beginning and ending with pushing Trump over the finish line on Nov. 8.

Which brings us back to this weekend’s Maine Republican caucuses.

In the past, they’ve been long-winded affairs where people arrive, talk politics, gather by candidate preference, talk a bit more, count heads, maybe talk a bit more and then call it a day.

Not so this year, when all the voting will be done by secret ballot. If you so prefer, you can be in and out in a few minutes without having to discuss anything with anyone.

“People can come, and we hope they’ll stay and participate in the other activities and share camaraderie with fellow Republicans,” explained state Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett recently to the Kennebec Journal. “But if they’re busy and want to get in and go and make their voice heard, you can cast your ballot and depart immediately.”

Here’s my prediction:

Republican turnout will be high.

Trump will do very, very well! Unbelievably well! So well they’ll be using napkins because they ran out of ballots!

And very few of his supporters will stick around to chit-chat because, beyond making American great again, they don’t have a lot to say.

They don’t have to.

Donald Trump, who “tells it like it is” without saying much of anything, is their man.

And he will stay their man until the day it all blows up in their face.

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at:

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