Steve M has a post titled FOR THE REST OF THIS CAMPAIGN, TRUMP’S MENTAL STATE WILL MATTER MUCH MORE THAN HIS TAXES which is worth reading in full. While I think the tax story is important and should be covered in loving detail, a couple of things are pretty clear about Trump: he’s immune to normal “bad stories” that would sink other politicians, and there’s a small set of voters who might be persuaded to vote for Clinton even though they dislike her intensely because they think he’s crazy.
Trump’s immunity to bad stories comes mainly from his ability to short-circuit the media: he’ll tell a dozen lies in a speech and he’ll say another dozen things that would normally be headline gaffes. He also marinates in an awful backstory that would kill a normal candidate that includes adultery, an appearance in a porn movie, and history of sexual harassment. When he’s on his game, he also finds a new line of bullshit every day (or maybe even hourly). Traditional media–with its narrative of both sides being equally bad and its inability to call out lies–is essentially in Trump’s grip. It’s only when Trump commits a transgression so far beyond the pale that they’re able to report it without cherrypicking a Clinton email to serve as balance. In other words, Trump has to go fucking nutzo for the media to point out how unhinged he really is.
The Khan story, and the Machado story, are two clear examples of this phenomenon. The Khan story was more about who he attacked, the Machado story was more about how he attacked. I think the Khan story picked off Republicans who could have possibly held their nose and voted for Trump, but could possibly tolerate Hillary, and weren’t going to vote for someone crazy enough to think people like the Khan’s weren’t real citizens. I hope the Machado story picks off Republicans who dislike Hillary intensely, but are worried that a guy who is so easily baited will blow up the world if some minor celebrity pisses him off.
If you accept that it’s only Trump’s craziness that will sway the last set of persuadables, then the tax story will be most consequential if it puts him further off the rails. And one thing about that story really ought to get his goat: the envelope had a Trump Organization return address. Somebody stole the can of strawberries. According to this Post piece that Steve M quotes, Trump keeps getting progressively more off message and nuttier at every rally. Let’s hope that trend continues.