Is the race now Trump's to lose?

Of course, it’s getting a little late for such a personality make-over. And Trump evidently chafes, at least in practice, at the notion of adopting a false front for the campaign. It would be easier for him if he had gradually worked on these campaign issues in advance and legitimately made them part of his own thinking about what would make America great again. But by and large, he blundered into the issues that have fuelled and sustained his campaign. He didn’t know the arguments for them, and though he’s perfectly able to mug them up, he sometimes forgets what they are and contradicts himself and his policy papers. He hires knowledgeable advisors but often ignores them. In a way it’s like watching a man who, midway through an attempt to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope, suddenly consults a book with the title “How to Cross Niagara Falls in Six Easy Lessons” but finds it boring and throws it away.

Trump is nonetheless the master of his own fate at this point. He lives by the gaffe and, if he dies, he will die by the gaffe. Clinton is a kind of puzzled bystander at her own fate as she tries to recall what will be in the next batch of e-mails to hit the fan.

Charlie points out that his advice to Trump stemmed from disinterested tactical Machiavellianism, and that he wouldn’t like Trump-as-Harold-Macmillan or a Tory-fied GOP at all. As an un-reconstructed Thatcherite, I largely agree with him. But as someone who lived from 1942 until 1975 under, with, and in such a party, I can assure him that it’s not too bad. Muddled, decent, split-the-difference Tories were kind, decent, patriotic people who had no desire to remake society in accordance with some utopian plan. Their problem was ideological laziness: They went with the statist flow, complaining mildly but thinking it inevitable, until its costs in tax and regulation became unignorably heavy. At which point Mrs. Thatcher seized control of her dozy party and gave it what it had always said it wanted.