In the past, Republicans have coalesced around such obvious joke candidates as businessman Herman Cain, whose main achievements involved management stints at two of the nation’s most grotesque fast-food chains (Burger King and Godfather’s Pizza), and Alan Keyes, whose resume includes a brief stint as a Reagan appointee to the reviled-by-conservatives United Nations,hosting an ironically titled MSNBC show (Alan Keyes is Making Sense), and a historic loss to one Barack Obama in the 2004 Illinois Senate race.

That Cain and Keyes are black is no accident. While the GOP struggles to crack double digits in terms of votes from African Americans, the party’s overwhelmingly white members seem to have an unending appetite for high-profile, successful black men whose very presence on a debate stage softens charges of hostility and indifference to issues about race. This helps explain why The Weekly Standard is officially “Taking Ben Carson Seriously,” as Fred Barnes’ recent cover story puts it…

In the current climate, Donald Trump is haunting the Republican banquet like Banquo’s ghost, ghastly evidence that something’s not quite right. At the same Iowa Freedom Summit event where Palin fatally beclowned herself, the Donald hinted that he is considering a 2016 presidential run. Just like he considered a bid in 2000 as an independent candidate and one in 2012 as a Republican. And possibly running for governor of New York. Despite a long record of patently stupid statements related to virtually every topic in politics (being an Obama birther is really the least of it), Trump has an all-access pass to Republican-friendly events and TV shows on Fox News. His Twitter feed is clogged with bizarre accusations such as this one claiming Barack Obama was going to declare martial law in New York City during Winter Storm Iola.

Sure, Trump might have shown expert negotiating skills when he hustled Merv Griffin while unloading an Atlantic City casino back in the day, but it’s mind-boggling that one of just two major parties lets Trump open his yap at its confabs.