There are also, of course, the insults. Mr. Salam favors a more restrictive immigration policy and would like to see more candidates speaking thoughtfully about issues of assimilation and integration. But he adds, “When it seems like you’re demonizing that population, that’s completely counterproductive.”

Still, Mr. Trump could be a useful stalking horse for the reformocons even if they think he has bad policy ideas, says a lot of offensive things, can’t win an election and wouldn’t be a good president.

“If Trump isn’t offering workable solutions but he is identifying problems that others have ignored, the hope is some more policy-focused, more governance-focused competitor will make use of the opportunity that Trump has publicized,” Mr. Frum said.

In an analogy that won’t make anyone very comfortable, he said Mr. Trump could be useful in the same way George Wallace was in 1968: “Wallace talked about a lot of issues, many of them pretty dismaying, but he also seized on the crime issue. Crime was rising fast, and it was not an issue that respectable politicians wanted to talk about. The result was that Richard Nixon stole his issue and deracialized it.”