Trump can be beat by an opponent with the right biography and clear message.
She did what Hillary couldn't.
For the first time in the three years of the Trump era--the era that began when he came down the escalator and announced his presidency--Trump met an opponent whose story was more simple and powerful than his. This blog has repeatedly cast presidential messaging as a form of professional wrestling, a battle between archetype characters, with Trump playing the role of the "bad-guy" rule breaker who fights dirty on behalf of himself and his team. The Democratic field--and especially Hillary Clinton--was made up of "stiffs", i.e. people who were head-to-head opponents. Trump was the disrupter, Democrats were positioned as the establishment.
Democrats keep losing that fight.
Hillary, of course, lost it, but also Pocahontas Warren and Crying Chuck Schumer and San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi. They talk about legislation while he demonstrates brute disdain for them. A governing plurality of people generally dislike Democrats or the federal government or the status quo international order. and they enjoy watching Trump play his role swatting them down.
Trump has his act down. He looks and dresses the part: presidential brute.
Biography needs to complement message. Hillary Clinton could not tell a persuasive "log cabin" story, although I heard her attempt it by borrowing her mother's story. Clinton went to Wellesley and Yale Law and got rich doing politics, giving speeches, and having rich friends. She is stuck with that. Trump is a big-talking wheeler-dealer businessman, and he is stuck with that. She tried to deny or minimize her story, while Trump leaned into his and made it a qualification rather than a disqualification.
The little girl has a credible biography. She is a toddler.
The message has to be clear and simple and have emotional resonance. Trump's is that there are too many scary foreigners taking over our country and taking advantage of us in trade and diplomacy, and we needed someone tough to defend us. A lot of people feel uncomfortable around "others" and while Democrats condemn and shame that feeling, Trump acknowledges it and acts on it. That works for Trump.
The Time Magazine cover is utterly false and manipulative--which is why the cover is commentary on the battle we just witnessed.
The cover is "fake" as news, but accurate as analysis. The actual photo is shown here, a toddler crying. But the still photo of her, plus the sound of children crying, made a case the public sided with. We saw it the way the cover art saw it. Big brute vs. toddler. We like her better.
This blog has received criticism over the past two years observing--correctly--that it devalues issues and policy and that it treats politics as mere show business. Critics write that they care about issues and complain this blog values the facile and manipulative rather than the serious business of government.
I agree with my critics. They are right.
That is exactly what this blog reports because that is exactly what I observe. I believe the past two weeks demonstrate my point. The image of the toddler could do what U S Senators could not. That reality creates a prescription for 2020: at the presidential level I believe a Democratic opponent will succeed--or not--depending on what they represent, understandable and credible at a glance.