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Will the GOP play its Trump card?

Republicans declaring themselves potential presidential candidates has begun to look like a conga line without music, hope lingered that somewhere was a brilliant dark horse biding his sweet time.

Wherever pundits and pinots merged, a mantra materialized. Surely, a miracle would occur and The Candidate would emerge at just the right moment to rescue an ennui-stricken electorate from establishmentarians and their tea-partying ankle-biters. Cymbals would sound; angels would succumb to arias; Democrats would quake. And prosperity, world peace and well-adjusted children would follow. But who?

Turns out: The Candidate would be tall and rich and sport a coif that defies party identification. He would be a reality TV star. And his name would be known to all, such that even jaded veterans would slap their foreheads as the obvious became clear. But of course!

The Donald.

As presidential sweepstakes go, one couldn't find an odder -- and yet more predictable -- candidate than Donald Trump, whose name needs no burnishing. One can hardly walk a block in New York without stumbling into an edifice bearing his name. He towers over all others on the Monopoly game board.

Trump is inevitable in the same way that Barack Obama was. That is to say, each president tends to be a reaction to the previous one. George W. Bush was the opposite of Bill Clinton, and Obama was certainly nothing like Bush. At least not as a candidate.

If people have wearied of Obama's cerebral serenity and an approach to governance that seems overconsidered, then who better than The Donald to seize the alternative? Trump entered the fray with the headline-snatching pronouncement that Obama should produce proof of his birth on U.S. turf. This same ol' same ol' nonsense, which has been amply resolved by nonpartisan entities, nonetheless received the requisite attention.

Trying to convince birthers that Obama is a legitimate citizen rather than a closet jihadist is like trying to convince a terrified child that there's no monster under the bed. No amount of reasoning will do, though there is one bit of logic that seems to have escaped mention.

Herewith: If there were even one iota of evidence suggesting that Obama was not born in this country, does anyone really think that Hillary Clinton wouldn't have raised it during the campaign? Really?

The Clintons don't just have people; they have armadas of political machinery. If Obama were born anywhere but where he says he was born, we'd all be saying "Madame President."

A cynic might ponder the possibility that Team Obama keeps the birther meme in circulation. As the president himself told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Republicans who embrace the birther movement are hurting themselves.

In saner times, we'd dismiss the ravings of madmen, self-promoters and false prophets. Today any old canard can enjoy 15 minutes of credibility.

Some have wondered whether Trump's rant is mere stunt. In the age of celebrity, it doesn't matter what people are saying about you as long as they're talking about you, goes the "thinking."

By this calculus, the more ridiculous one is, the more likely one is to benefit from buzz. And then, who knows, one may become a sensation in the Twitter-verse, and then pop goes the weasel, and th-th-th-that's all, folks!

Until the next cycle begins, even sooner than the last.

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