Alicia Machado is probably the best thing to happen to Hillary Clinton all year

I hadn’t previously bothered with the entire Miss Universe story because it’s obviously another piece of election season fluff which will fall out of the pockets of anyone with Donald Trump’s extensive and, shall we say… colorful storyline. I’d also assumed that with even marginally competent people managing the campaign message it would have disappeared in 48 hours. But for some reason I woke up this morning to see it being discussed on CNN and spread all over the pages of the Wall Street Journal yet again.

In a sharp escalation of his attacks on the 1996 Miss Universe winner, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump kept alive a controversy over a beauty queen’s weight that could cause further damage to his standing among women voters…

His Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, continued her embrace of Ms. Machado, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Venezuela who says she was humiliated by Mr. Trump, then the Miss Universe pageant owner, whom she said called her “Miss Piggy.”

Mrs. Clinton told Ms. Machado’s story in Monday’s debate, clearly surprising her GOP rival. Mr. Trump went on television Tuesday morning and began his attack on Ms. Machado, accusing her of gaining a “massive” amount of weight and nearly losing her crown.

I realize Allahpundit weighed in on it yesterday, but this is a different (and potentially larger) problem for The Donald than I’d originally thought. The entire Miss Universe thing is, as AP described it, an obvious PR scam arranged by Clinton to goose votes from women and Latinos. It shouldn’t have worked, but given the shrinking election calendar it’s turned into a surprisingly effective tool.

The problem here is that this is absolutely working for Hillary Clinton and she’s jumping on the bandwagon as hard as she can. (It also reinforces her “man who can be goaded by a tweet” theme.) And why wouldn’t she? The debate probably didn’t go as well for Trump as it might have, but up until that point Clinton was on the ropes. There was one bad story after another about her with many of them being serious enough that the MSM couldn’t avoid talking about them. Her numbers were tanking nationally and in multiple swing states. Trump fans had reason to be at least cautiously hopeful because it wasn’t as if she was going to unveil yet another policy initiative which was suddenly going to turn the electorate around.

And then this happens. Some dusty old story about about a beauty pageant contestant who is far from a role model but does happen to hit the media narrative bullseye of being both Hispanic and in possession of two X chromosomes. And because Donald Trump apparently can’t stand seeing a moment of the day when everyone isn’t talking out him he decides to hoist this flag up to the yardarms and go charging into battle in the middle of the night. The major problem here is that having the media talk about somebody else (specifically Hillary) was actually working for Trump. We were at a point where all he needed to do was keep looking at least marginally serious about some significant campaign issues, even if they seemed a bit dry and boring, and allow Clinton to collapse into a pile on her own.

Now the worm has turned for the umpteenth time in this election and the cable news networks have a new shiny object to play with. Clinton’s numerous flaws and ethics problems slink off to the back burner again and the remaining undecided voters are handed a new reason to question Trump’s seriousness and credibility. It’s time to get off this Miss Universe train let the news about Clinton’s many problems pull her under. Can Donald do it? I’m starting to have doubts.