What is Donald Trump's endgame?
On the one hand, Trump is a notorious self-promoter, and perhaps creating the scuttlebutt that surrounds a possible presidential run is all that piques his interest.
On the other, Trump is certainly doing what presidential candidates typically do -- criticizing the incumbent president, opining on public policy and consulting with potential advisers. He appeared at CPAC a few months ago and will speak at the Iowa Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day dinner in June.
I actually think he's going to run.
However, Trump's idiotic foray into the birther controversy demonstrates both a lack of seriousness about what a presidential campaign requires and a stunning ignorance of a topic that is litigated only by the most extreme of wingnuts. Charles Krauthammer recently compared Trump to Al Sharpton, describing him as a "sideshow" and "clown." Krauthammer isn't far off. Instead of focusing on his own well-documented business achievements, Trump's first real foray into national politics was to question Obama's birth certificate. The national press has rightfully focused on this enormous bit of idiocy, because, again, if someone attempts to litigate this in the court of public opinion, he doesn't deserve to be considered as a serious candidate in the first place.
Unfortunately, given his astronomical name recognition and bombastic personality, Trump will probably make considerable noise in the first few primaries. Much like that of Mitt Romney, Trump's personal fortune will allow him to weather early defeats and remain a candidate as long as his ego allows.
I seriously doubt that Republican primarygoers will nominate Donald Trump, but this is the same group of people that blindly followed George W. Bush for eight years.