I’m actually optimistic that this Trump taxes NYT story will *matter*, even in this #lolnothingmatters moment in history.

That’s not because some crucial subset of voters will read this and change their minds.

It’s because of how Trump will react.
Trump is already an undisciplined campaigner. Even on an average day, he is routinely his own worst enemy.

The thing he is best at is maintaining constant attention and repeatedly creating new distractions.

It’s a reality TV gimmick. It’s his one superpower.
When Trump flails—when he’s really wounded—he loses that superpower.

Instead of creating another news cycle that leaves us forgetting the previous one, he just intensifies and extends the one he’s stuck in.

He is not a man who is capable of strategically staying quiet.
It reminds me structurally of the Access Hollywood tape.

That tape was a *big deal*, not because it told voters something new, but because it put Trump in a multi-week campaign death spiral.

The Comey Letter in effect saved Trump’s campaign. It pulled him out of that spiral.
It’s easy to misremember just how bad those early October weeks were for Trump.

Every story was bad, and candidate Trump didn’t have the discipline to change things.

Wikileaks released the Podesta emails immediately to try to help change the subject. But he was still flailing
Now in 2020 the other main story is the coronavirus death toll.

Trump’s (legitimate*) campaign hinges on keeping attention away from that story.

(*his illegitimate campaign hinges on voter suppression/subverting free-and-fair elections. That still worries me.)
The Supreme Court nomination gave Trump extremely valuable material for creating six weeks of distraction.

And Trump, when in top form, can keep people very very distracted.
But this NYT story is clearly going to anger him personally.

And the Times promises to keep publishing followup stories that go deeper into his trash fire business empire.

That’s going to leave Trump flailing, making unforced errors, and incapable of changing the subject.
Maybe that will all change through another Comey letter-type outside force.

Six weeks is a long time.

Maybe his Supreme Court will invalidate a million ballots and render elections meaningless.

The administrative state is a potent weapon.

Trump’s malevolence is often undermined by Trump’s incompetence.

I’m genuinely optimistic that this story will exacerbate his incompetence.

It will have dual-billing with the coronavirus, as he loses his ability to distract.

That might really *matter*.
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