It’s good tomato weather, hot days, some rain at night and occasional gusts of wind to blow the bugs off. Congress is in recess, the carpet-chewers have gone home, so the Republic, for now, is safe. A rumor spreads, launched on public radio, that some calamari is actually deep-fried pig parts, so squid sales to liberal arts grads have plummeted. Meanwhile, jubilation erupts among NASA engineers as little Juno reaches the end of its five-year journey and goes into orbit around Jupiter.

Back in college days, we literati felt superior to engineers in their high-water pants, half-rim horn-rims and plastic pocket protectors, people who wound up giving the world the little gizmo that is camera, compass, calendar, encyclopedia, weather monitor, newspaper and telephone, and what was our gift to the world? Unintelligible narcissism that called itself “poetry.”

I have just now asked my iPhone: How many times did Rod Carew steal home? Answer: 17. Seven in 1969 alone. I saw him do it once. Talk about competence. He took a big lead off third, raced for home, dove for the plate, safe by inches. Chutzpah, timing, speed and smarts, right there before your eyes.

One comes to admire competence. My auto mechanic in St. Paul, for example, who figured out that my 1997 Volvo wouldn’t start because a malfunctioning trunk lock had drained the battery. Counterintuitive, like finding out that a boil on your rear end is the cause of your migraine. This is inspiring to me. Whenever I go into Lloyd’s Automotive, I am impressed.

Nowadays, the unintelligible narcissism is coming from the Big Snapper, now planning his coronation in Cleveland. He is entirely wrapped up in himself, like a raccoon trapped in a garbage can, and apparently uninterested in the realities of policy and politics, which unnerves old hands in the Republican Party, but what can they do?

He came to political prominence in 2011 by insisting that Barack Obama is secretly a Kenyan, which appealed to the same people who imagine that the government is sitting on a secret formula for turning tap water into fuel.

From the Kenyan gambit, it was a short leap to proposing a wall on the Mexican border, paid for by the government of Mexico, and his reliable applause line, about stupid leaders making bad deals with other countries. It was good enough to beat the cast of wind-up candidates in the primaries, and here he is.

He still loves that line and the wall and he resists going into detail. It’s hard for a con man to become a statesman, as the retainers around him are coaxing him to be. Reality is a show, and wild conjecture and playground insult are his strong suits.

He has gotten a long free ride on news shows on which anchors have treated him with solemn deference, the first raccoon to run for president. They ask him about national security and he yips and snaps and they nod and ask about the federal deficit. His platform, whatever it may be on any given day, is pure hokum. He is, as Mitt Romney points out, a fraud.

Hillary Clinton has her faults and is no whiz at email, but she does not walk around arguing with lampposts. He’d be a disaster in the White House and after Bush II, who needs it? That is what the majority is thinking these days.

Juno is really out there, circling Jupiter, sending back pictures. Rod Carew actually stole home 17 times, and each time was astonishing. My old car is running well. The tomatoes are going to be good this summer. These are facts.

We the American people are able to discern reality from paranoia, braggadocio and one man’s vast need for admiration. It will be interesting to see what this old raccoon does in Cleveland and beyond, but it will have less bearing on our lives than the average thunderstorm.

Meanwhile, Republicans are asking themselves how it happened that this freak was bestowed upon the national stage by their Grand Old Party. Democrats have put forward candidates who lost spectacularly but we were never ashamed of them, they represented a strain, a tradition, of our particular circus. We never ran a raccoon for the presidency. We never put on a convention that our elders were too embarrassed to attend.