In late 2015 I spoke to a friend, a black woman who grew up in one of America's southern states and was visiting New Zealand. I told her as someone who has watched US politics closely for over 50 years, that she should watch the just announced presidential hopeful Donald Trump who had that day joined the group of Republicans vying to be the party's candidate in 2016.
Laughingly she said to me, "Dick, don't be ridiculous. He is a joke. He may be good as a prime time TV games show host but no American in their right mind would be silly enough to vote for him to be our next President. We aren't that stupid."
I insisted Trump was the man to watch as he broke the mould of normal presidential candidates and people were judging him on the basis he was a normal candidate.
I said he alone of the Republican hopefuls had "tuned in" very astutely to the enormous dissatisfaction and division in American politics and spoke for the unhappy white males in particular who had suffered throughout the American economy's restructuring in the 1980s and 1990s.
I added that since the 1970's, professional groups such as teachers, skilled trades people and older unionised workers in industries such as steel and car manufacturing had lost jobs or status and were angry, confused and resentful, and they as a group, would not be voting for the Democrat Party.
My friend said, "A Trump presidency is just impossible, you don't know my country. The man is a joke."
I asked if she wanted to take my $50 bet on Trump winning the Republican candidacy and then going on to win the election. She just stared at me and finally said, "Do you want to throw your money away, because that is what you are doing." We shook hands and the deal was on.
We all know the rest of that story.
In view of the above and having experienced Trump as President for 13 months, we all can now judge how well is he doing and how well the Democrats (who after all lost the election based on their system) have got their act together?
Well on one assessment, what I call the "traditional president assessment model", he has been a total failure. He has not got rid of Obamacare, has not built a single brick in the Mexican wall, has not reinvigorated the coal and steel industry and he and his close advisers have been caught up in a web of scandal and impropriety. His legislative achievements are miniscule.
However, and this is vital if you accept Trump actually has to be assessed instead on the "not your usual politician assessment" form, he has been an outstanding success.
His tweeting dominates the American media landscape, he has completely bamboozled the American political left, he has continued to captivate his supporters, he has run a hugely effective "forked tongue" media policy now so successful it has its own political narrative (ie "alternative facts").
He so dominates in America political life that nothing is an issue in that country until Trump has commented on it (read "text" here).
He has done what no other American politician has ever dreamed of doing, ie criticised the Pope, viciously attacked genuine American war heroes (Senator McCane), ruthlessly "dissed" members of his own political party and furthermore, effortlessly bounced off allegations that he may have had multiple sexual affairs.
Lets be frank here, the world is mesmerised by Donald Trump, I am for one as he makes endlessly good media copy.
In the face of this apparent invincible performance and the Democrats' clear lack of an effective alternative to run effectively against him, I am now so confident (in spite of my own private feelings against all that he stands for) to once again offer a bet he will clean up the next election. But this time I am so sure he will win re-election I will double the bet to $100 (American of course).
* Dick Cuthbert, a veteran protester, lives in Herne Bay where he is a devoted grandfather these days.