A swirl of noise and nonsense spinning around what President Trump calls a "national emergency" due to the "invasion" of our southern border by a Central American migrant caravan of "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners" is, well, just jaw-dropping.
It's as transparently political as politics can get. It's aimed at base-rousing for next week's midterms. And it raises (along with the eyebrows of sensible citizens) two questions: Does it work? Does it impact Pennsylvania races?
Before we go there, please remember that the whirling mix includes an olio of odd, nutsy stuff on social media, aired by some news (read Fox News) outlets suggesting that unless the caravan is stopped, we all risk imminent infection from smallpox and/or leprosy.
I wish I was making this up.
And Trump, as usual, is doubling down. He ordered 5,200-plus military troops to the border before Election Day, even though the caravan is weeks away.
He says he'll sign an executive order ending the "ridiculous" 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship for all U.S.-born children, including those born to noncitizens.
It occurs to me that if the president feels so strongly about this constitutional right (and believes he has legal authority to end it), he could have signed such an order at any point since taking office.
But to Pennsylvania.
State GOP Chairman Val DiGiorgio says that because the Democratic Party is a "full-throttle open-borders party," Trump's blitz of border talk is good for state Republican candidates.
"I can tell you, anecdotally, it is helping energize people," DiGiorgio says. "To the extent we believe Democratic intensity has been high all year, it helps our turnout. And anything that helps Republican intensity helps all Republican candidates."
When I ask if he thinks Trump's timing on a troop call-up and ending the 14th Amendment's birthright citizenship might seem politically suspicious so close to an election, he says, "The timing of this caravan is suspect. Who's putting these folks up to that?"
I ask if he thinks, maybe, George Soros?
"I really don't know," he says.
Nancy Patton Mills, who chairs the state Democratic Party, also thinks Trump's border talk can influence the election. But in a different way.
"I think it works against him," she says. "People are seeing now that the 'invasion' is a hoax. It doesn't exist. People will see through his rhetoric, and there will be a backlash against it."
She adds, "And it can't be overlooked that that rhetoric was certainly part of, and somewhat an influence in, the murders here in the [Tree of Life] synagogue, because [alleged shooter Robert Bowers] said he was worried about the 'invasion.' "
It has been reported that Bowers' last social media post before the shootings noted that the immigrant-aid society HIAS "likes to bring in invaders that kill our people."
So, amid views that Trump's fiery rhetoric on the caravan contributed to the synagogue murders in Pittsburgh last weekend, we have Trump's fiery rhetoric on multiple border issues looking to contribute to GOP campaigns next week.
It's probably worth noting that Franklin and Marshall College polling shows just 7 percent of registered state voters see immigration issues "most important" in considering candidates for U.S. Senate.
Issues ranked higher include general alignment with political views, health care, and, of course, Donald Trump.
Nonetheless, Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Casey and Republican challenger U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta regularly tangle on immigration.
During a debate last week in Pittsburgh, Barletta referred to the caravan as "an invasion." He and his campaign often hit Casey for supporting "sanctuary cities" and open borders. If Trump's hard stress on such issues helps anyone, it's Barletta who could use it.
Casey says Barletta's part of a Republican majority that does nothing on immigration. He says the GOP uses the issue "to divide people."
And it does. And it fires up Trump's base. And it clearly worked two years ago.
It's just hard to see how overreaching with eleventh-hour border troops and a questionable constitutional challenge makes much difference now.