But it was clear Tuesday night that, with Bernie all but cooked and Hillary in need of a new foil, the narrative now demanded that Trump be a candidate transformed. There was nothing Trump could’ve done to change the story. He could’ve swallowed his tie on stage, and Chris Matthews would still have acted as if he’d seen the ghost of John Lindsay sitting in his green room. “And I think,” Matthews exulted, “that that’s going to be one hell of a general election campaign—with Trump starting out very behind and perhaps catching up to a very exciting conclusion.”
Schmidt said Trump’s speech showed a willingness “to address the temperament criticism. … You see a potent general election message.” On Twitter, the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman, who has done extensive reporting on the Trump campaign, also noticed a new side to Trump, ascribing it to the influence of Paul Manafort, the GOP operative who has seemingly taken control of the ship.
Will any of this nonsense about the newly presidential Trump have an effect? Perhaps he will claw back a few wayward moderate voters in upcoming states, thanks to the friendly turn in media coverage, but the coverage isn’t going to help him beat Hillary Clinton in November. If he wants to do that, he is going to have to change his strategy entirely. Given that his strategy is an extension of his personality—given that his strategy is his personality–don’t count on it.