I don’t understand. What’s not to like about Trump insinuating that what happened to Ford maybe wasn’t that bad and dragging her parents into it, replete with a little sarcasm about how “loving” they must have been? That sounds like a political winner to me for a Republican woman senator who’s up for reelection in two years in a purple state that Trump lost to the first major-party woman nominee in U.S. history.

The top “trending” topic on Twitter in the United States for most of the day has been “#WhyIDidntReport”, a subject inspired by Trump’s shot at Ford that led women to share why they didn’t tell police about their own assaults sooner. Newspapers have been filing op-ed columns on the same subject all day long. A noteworthy one:

What happened next, though, is indelible. He crossed the room. There was a dark-green carpet, but his footsteps seemed loud, hard. He was against me, on top of me — so quickly — with his hands under my skirt and his mouth on mine, that I froze. I lay there as he pushed himself inside me. The leather couch stuck to my skin, made noises beneath me. His breath smelled like coffee and stale bread. He didn’t use a condom. I remember leaving afterward, driving home, the night around me glittered with streetlights and alive with people out at dinner or bars. I felt alone, ashamed and disgusted with myself. Why didn’t I get out of there? Why didn’t I push him off? Why did I freeze?

I don’t remember what month it was. I don’t remember whether his assistant was still there when I arrived. I don’t remember whether we said anything to each other when I left his office…

It’s important to understand how memory works in a traumatic event. Ford has been criticized for the things she doesn’t remember, like the address where she says the assault happened, or the time of year, or whose house it was. But her memory of the attack itself is vivid and detailed. His hand over her mouth, another young man piling on, her fear that maybe she’d die there, unable to breathe. That’s what happens: Your memory snaps photos of the details that will haunt you forever, that will change your life and live under your skin. It blacks out other parts of the story that really don’t matter much.

That’s from Patti Davis, nee Reagan, daughter of Ronald. The weirdest, most self-defeating thing about Trump’s tweet is that much of the #MeToo reporting of the past year is littered with examples of women not reporting what happened to them to the police. (There are far fewer examples of women not telling anyone, even a friend, as Ford says is true in her case.) The country’s spent nearly 12 full months since the first Weinstein expose dropped discovering in gory detail how many victims a single predator can pile up with zippo by way of police interference. Failing to report to the cops is one of the weakest knocks you can offer on Ford, particularly given her age at the time and the fact that this happened in an era that took the subject less seriously. In fact, right now there are people insisting that whatever happened to her that day was probably no big deal, just a drunken teenaged boy making an awkward advance like teenaged boys are prone to do. Why would she assume the local PD would take her seriously in 1982 when much of America 2018 still doesn’t?

Here’s the clip, which is stage two in a now-familiar three-stage process. Stage one: Trump steps on a rhetorical rake, damaging himself and his party needlessly. Stage two: A Republican politician who stands to suffer electorally from it wisely distances herself from it. The coming stage three: Trump takes offense that his ally isn’t showing “loyalty” by letting herself get hit in the face with the rake too. Ask Ron DeSantis how this goes. He knows. There’s a nonzero chance that POTUS will keep on tweeting dopey shots at Ford for the next five days until he finally loses Collins and another Republican, sinking Kavanaugh’s chances. The judge had better ace this hearing.