Why THIS TIME, Trump is being held accountable for his words/thoughts

I have been amazed at the resilience of Trump, whose campaign seemed doomed by his comments — about women, Mexicans, Judge, parents of a honored soldier, a war hero, etc, etc. Yet, none of these really hurt his support- at least among Republican primary voters. And, even in the general election, his supporters remained loyal and, once staged/controlled by his handlers, Trump seemed poised to draw even with the unpopular Clinton, until he choked in the first debate.

Then, the tape was leaked (and there was another poor debate performance); and, finally, the impact was strong, negative and actually seems to have registered with (some) of his supporters. Part of the reason is that this was not only words but related to actual behavior — not only insult, but assault. (That is what distinguishes his words from “lockeroom banter” since no one would publicly allude to aggressiveness with unwilling women.)

The issue has remained in the forefront because of several other factors as well — including Trump’s continuing to create “news” by talking about the charges incessantly after his clear statement in the debate that he had never behaved in any of the ways his words described.

The latest research findings about how our thinking works and the importance of “attention” is consistent with how influential this issue is remaining. As people who intend to vote are forced to think about their final decision as election day nears, conscious thought (system 2 to Daniel Kahneman) kicks in, and this particular issue is so dominant, that no other issue (Kahneman calls it “the focusing illusion”) can easily get into the consideration set of those open to deciding which person to vote for.

Another important finding of scientists is that mysteries are a lot more intriguing to us/maintain our interest far more than puzzles we have solved. This issue is a continuing drama without a definitive answer. Here, as women keep coming forward and Trump continues to focus his speeches on the various charges, the issue gets larger and more complex without resolution.

So, this tape — which, of course, was consistent with all his prior statements — looks (and sounds) like the words that finally struck a chord strong and long enough to make a real difference.