THE WRONG CHARACTER WITNESS…. Apparently, some Republican establishment types are starting to defend Donald Trump’s viability as a national candidate. One, in particular, is worth keeping an eye on.

Republican strategists and tea party activists said Trump’s celebrity combined with his flirtation with birtherism has attracted media attention and allowed him to harness some of the anti-Washington sentiment that showed up during November’s elections. After a few weeks of public appearances and interviews, and without declaring yet whether he will run, Trump rode his name recognition to the front of the GOP field in a number of public polls of Republican voters.

Several Republicans said Trump has plenty of credibility to talk about the economic issues at the forefront of most voters’ minds.

“Donald Trump is not going to need any tutelage from advisers on the economy,” said Ralph Reed, a conservative strategist and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

First, this is an odd argument. Trump, who isn’t an economist, has filed for bankruptcy at least four times. He’s not going to need any tutelage from advisers on the economy? How about tutelage from bankruptcy attorneys?

Second, why on earth should anyone take Ralph Reed’s assessment seriously? The right-wing hatchet man is a disgraced former lobbyist and accused money-launderer who was at the heart of the Abramoff scandal. The man was a pariah after having been exposed as a near-criminal — Reed was soundly defeated in a GOP primary when he sought statewide office in his home state of Georgia — and the very idea that he’s allowed to show his face again in public, as opposed to being incarcerated, is extraordinary.

And yet, Ralph Reed is vouching for Donald Trump’s credibility? And the Washington Post quotes Reed without even mentioning the fact that the guy is a disgrace?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.