National Review editor Rich Lowry captures my deepest fear:
There was a lot of skepticism about Trump’s latest purported pivot when he made Kellyanne Conway his campaign manager last month, but he has indeed pivoted. He is always going to be the same guy with the same idiosyncratic cluster of views — e.g., taking Iraq’s oil — but his campaign has done much more to get him in settings where he isn’t shouting, and that can only help him. Mexico City, Detroit, the Virginia Beach vets forum, his national security speech are all examples of non-rally events where he is not red-faced and yelling. The rallies have to be very alluring to Trump — gatherings of thousands of people where he can have a hell of time providing the entertainment. But they reinforce what is worst about his image for the new voters he has to try to reach.
Trump’s biggest liability is that he goes on TV constantly and acts like a crazy man. That appeals to some people, but it turns off a lot more. As long as he keeps doing this, the folks who don’t want a crazy man in the White House will vote for someone else.
But a lot of voters have very short memories. It’s always been true that if Trump can manage to act relatively sane for a mere few weeks, that would be plenty of time for a chunk of credulous voters, pundits, and hacks to decide that he’s turned over a new leaf and wouldn’t be a crazy man after all. So far—knock on wood—the remarkable thing is that Trump hasn’t been able to do this for even a few days, let alone a few weeks. And yet, he still could.