The boomlet for Donald Trump as a Republican nominee for President of the United States ought to be a wake-up call for Republican candidates and Republican Party leaders alike.
Why has Trump surged ahead of other Republican candidates and potential candidates in the polls? It is not likely that his resurrection of the issue of Barack Obama's birth certificate has aroused all this support.
The birth certificate issue does more political damage to Obama's critics than to the president himself, because it enables the media to paint those critics as kooks. Nor are Donald Trump's political positions such as to create a stampede to his cause.
Radio talk show host Mark Levin has rebroadcast Trump's varied and mutually contradictory statements on political issues and personalities over the years. It was a devastating revelation of Trump's "versatility of convictions," to use a phrase coined long ago by Thorstein Veblen.
What Trump has that so many other Republicans are so painfully lacking is the ability and the willingness to articulate his positions clearly, forcefully and in plain English. Too many Republicans talk like the actor of whom a critic once said, "he played the king like he was afraid that someone else was going to play the ace."
Donald Trump is dangerous in at least two senses. If, by some tragic miracle, he should become the Republicans' candidate for president in 2012, that would be the closest thing to an iron-clad guarantee of a second term in the White House for Barack Obama.
That would be a huge setback for the Republicans-- and, far more important-- a historic catastrophe for this country.
Why Republicans seem not to understand the crucial importance of putting the same time and attention into articulating their positions as the Democrats do is one of the enduring mysteries of American politics.
It was obvious that the Democrats coordinated their talking points and catch-phrases-- "social justice," "tax cuts for the rich," etc.-- even before the overheard and recorded statements of Senator Chuck Schumer about Democrats' plans to repeatedly use the word "extreme" to characterize Republicans.
But how many Republican catch-phrases can you remember? Republican rhetoric tends to range from low key to no key.
Nor is there much evidence that Republicans have asked themselves how the left-wing of the Democratic Party gained such ascendancy in recent years, in a country where millions more people identify themselves as conservative than identify themselves as liberals.