On the Democratic front, the word is that Donald Trump declines. What a shame, and what a loss. His acceptance of a Democratic offer to host the annual black-tie congressional campaign fund-raising dinner, a multimillion-dollar event here next March, might have clarified rampant confusion about our politics and national values.

He is, after all, an archetypal figure, a modern-day Gatsby. Since recent events suggest that the nation is reliving the let-'er-rip, get-rich-quick, boom-and-bust, glamor-and-greed decade of the Roaring Twenties, who else but Trump could fill the hunger for a new political icon?

So what if Trump isn't even a Democrat but a registered Republican and a conservative at that? Everyone knows that the old political labels no longer apply. Look at Ronald Reagan. The old New Dealer, who has become the most conservative Republican president since Calvin Coolidge, prepares to welcome the Soviet leader to Washington and sign a disarmament treaty. This, while Democrats fill the air with talk of their desires to be fiscally prudent, cut deficits and balance the budget.

No wonder Democratic leaders issued the call to Trump and let it be known that they'd like him to jump the Republicans. They seem to think that Trump fits the prototype of the political leader with new, 1980s style and staying power.

Think of his attributes. He's young, a hustler, an incessant self-promoter. He is recognized instantly. He attracts constant news media attention focusing on his deals, his arrogance, his rich-and-famous life style. He makes his short business rounds in his "sleek, black, French-made helicopter." He flies in his Boeing 727 from continent to continent to close big deals. He builds glittering, soaring Manhattan towers containing multimillion-dollar cooperative apartments. He owns an island in the Bahamas. He bids for the yacht owned by Adnan Khashoggi, the Saudi arms dealer of recent Iran-contra fame.

"America's brash billionaire," as Trump has been called, is the object of seemingly endless profiles.

Here's how Newsweek, for example, characterized him last September, before the market plunge, in a typical cover story:

"Donald John Trump -- real-estate developer, casino operator, corporate raider and perhaps future politician -- is a symbol of an era. He is the man with the Midas fist. For better or worse, in the 1980s it is OK to be fiercely ambitious, staggeringly rich and utterly at ease in bragging about it. He is the latest of a breed unique to the decade: the businessman who becomes larger than life, like a star athlete or a popular actor. Trump has made it into that rarefied group as fast as anyone, and he revels in his high celebrity status as few have before him. 'There is no one of my age who has accomplished more,' he boasts openly.

". . . For the new rich, says a New York real-estate broker, the name is synonymous with 'status.' So Trump plasters it on practically every new building he builds or casino he operates -- and he promotes them brilliantly. 'The P.T. Barnum of real estate,' a friend once called him. He has become so wealthy in the process, he concedes, that life has become something of 'a game' for him. The ultimate scoreboard, he says, 'is the unfortunate, obvious one: money.' Trump, who at 41 has amassed an empire with assets worth more than $3 billion, agrees with an assessment that others might find less than flattering. Asked if he's the ultimate Yuppie, he replies, 'Yeah, maybe.' "

This is the man whom the Democrats invited to host their annual dinner and join their cause, whatever it is. "He's young, dynamic and successful," Rep. Beryl Anthony Jr. (Ark.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has been quoted as saying. "The message he has been preaching is the Democratic message."

True, Trump of late has bought full-page newspaper advertisements urging greater efforts at deficit reduction, renewed disarmament talks and moves toward peace in Central America. He has also been talking to folks in New Hampshire about the state of the nation.

As far as I know, no one has been rude enough to ask him the question posed by Garry Trudeau in a recent "Doonesbury" caricature. That is: What experience does Trump have with people of modest means? To that, the cartoon Trump replied: "Plenty. Evicting them."

No matter. There will be time for such questions later when the Democrats pick him as their presidential hope.