The other day, when President Donald Trump contended absurdly that if he had been present at the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, he would have "run in there" even unarmed to save the students, it naturally brought to mind Don Quixote tilting at a windmill.
The president's notion that he would or could prevent even a single death with such behavior was another comment on his self-absorption and exaggerated sense of his own bravery despite no real-life evidence of the same.
Against that boast of super-hero in his own mind are such facts as his multiple deferments for bone spurs that kept him out of the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, and his known dislike even to be touched by someone else — excepting of course certain women he has boasted of grabbing by their private parts.
Then there was his recent tortured observation in proposing the arming of teachers who have "the talent" and the training for handling a lethal weapon. People either have it or they don't, he observed. Then he noted that some golfers can't even sink a four-foot putt under pressure let alone have the stuff to go unarmed into a school being used as a shooting range.
After vowing to find some solution short of banning battlefield mass killing devices from all but the military and police, our president has so far offered little more than vague ideas.
Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota may have put it best the other day, saying: "The president, as you know, has made a number of statements over the past few days. Him weighing in probably matters quite a bit with a lot of members, and, you know, what he would like to see done."
Then Mr. Thune added: "But the Congress is going to work its will on this, like it usually does."
Translation: There will be a lot more talk and probably little substantive action, as usual.
A Trump ally in the House, Republican Rep. Chris Collins of New York, said more of the same nothing: "I don't think there is any consensus whatever that there's anything on, quote, gun control," the Washington Post reported. "We're an independent body and we will do what our members think is best," he said, adding, "I would say the president's leadership is going to be key, there's no doubt."
Translation: The Republican House may be an independent body, but we're going to wait for our marching orders, if any, from our leader in the White House. Or maybe, like him, we'll wait for the whole business to blow over again, as it has after other mass shootings, including the mass slaughter of grade-school children at Sandy Hook in 2012.
After first saying he would support raising the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21, Mr. Trump has appeared to back off, while declaring he would on his own bar the selling and buying of bump stocks, devices that convert normal guns into rapid-firing weapons. However, legislation from Congress probably would be required, and House Speaker Paul Ryan would not immediately say he would bring such a bill to the floor for a vote.
Mr. Ryan also indicated he was willing to let the Senate take the lead, or as some might say, take the heat. "We're waiting to see what the Senate can do," he said, "We obviously think the Senate should take our whole bill, but if the Senate cannot do that, then we'll discuss and cross that bridge when we get to it."
So much for a functioning government in the Age of Trump. One can only wonder how much worse it might be under Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, than under Donald Trump and Mike Pence, or even Paul Ryan, tilting at our current windmill over essentially unlimited gun ownership.
Jules Witcover is a syndicated columnist and former long-time writer for The Baltimore Sun. His latest book is "The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power" (Smithsonian Books). His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.