Michael Steel, a former John Boehner staff and GOP strategist was interviewed on National Public Radio the day after the speech Donald Trump delivered in Phoenix. Steel was asked how he rated that speech next to the one earlier in the week about the strategy going forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing, Steel said. He said Trump was measured and presidential when reading the plan laid out by his military and diplomatic advisers, but reverted to the "Fifth Avenue" mode when he got in front of his supporters in Phoenix.


"Fifth Avenue" refers to the remarks Trump made when he was a candidate that he could shoot somebody in broad daylight in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his supporters would still love him.

When he gets in front of that base of 25 to 35 percent of his supporters, he just plays to the crowd, Steel said.

Steel said the comments Trump made about Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake were childish. "Childish, because he referred to them, but not by name, like kids in the back seat saying, 'Did so, did not.' "

That same day, the internet was all about the schoolyard blustering going on between the president of the United States and the leader of the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell. McConnell, for his part, has been the grown-up in that exchange, which, alas, surprises no one anymore. The Fifth Avenue crowd, meanwhile, doesn't even know what that means.

Another part of Trump's Phoenix rant was a revisit of his Poor Little Me lament about how the "very bad people — these are very dishonest people, I have to tell you" in the fake media who report exactly what he says because they don't like him.

The irony of his complaints about the media is that it was the "both sides" efforts of the media during the election campaign that gave him more standing in the public eye than he deserved, and that helped build that base of illogical 30 percenters who would stick with their hero following a shooting on Fifth Avenue.

Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post wrote a piece after the Nazi raid on Charlottesville pointing out that studies of the balance of news stories in the primary season show that in striving to be fair to Trump, they were inadvertently unfair to others, first among Republican candidates seeking the nomination, and then to the person whom he continues to refer to as "Crooked Hillary" nine months after the election that he did not win by popular vote.

Some legitimately conservative fans of Trump feel oppressed by being linked with the thugs carrying swastikas. Instead of complaining about the media showing the actions of those who jumped on the Trump bandwagon, they should kick the alt-right tailgaters off.

I recently attended a meeting about economic trends. One person groused that the media has not given Trump credit for the improving economic indicators, but I noticed that he was one who repeatedly called out the wrong answers during the host's Q-and-A lead-in to his talk. The host responded with the oft-cited Donald Rumsfeld caution when it comes to forming opinions on economic strategy: You have the known, the known unknown, and the unknown unknown.

And then we have the stunning comments after the Phoenix speech by Gen. James Clapper, former head of national intelligence, who has served four presidents from both parties and has the respect of government people across the political spectrum, who said Trump's comments were "scary," and questioned for the record whether Trump is fit for the duties of the office he holds. Particularly troubling to Clapper is Trump's access to the "football," the bag that separates reality from eternal chaos resulting from a nuclear strike by four minutes.

Politics is the lair of the most volatile unknown unknowns.

Dean Minnich writes from Westminster.