Donald Trump is going to have a hard time arresting his fall in the polls.
After a disastrous week of missteps that included attacking the parents of a slain Iraq war hero and saying crazy things that incite fear such as "Why can't we use nukes?," Trump has now fallen behind Hillary Clinton in the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll by 9 percentage points.
At this point, most of the things that could possibly help save him in the polls are out of his control — say, another Wikileaks-like document revelation that implicates Hillary Clinton in a damaging way or something truly unthinkable like another terrorist attack. While no one — NO ONE — wants to see an attack happen, Trump would come out swinging with promises to "get whoever did this," something that his base would really respond to.
But politics isn't about waiting for some event to happen that plays to your strengths. It's about strategy. So, let's look at what could possibly be in his control. Many in the GOP are urging Trump to change his tune and stop saying crazy things and get back on message.
I don't think that's enough.
In order for Trump to truly pull himself out of this hole he's dug himself, he has to do something truly extraordinary and out of character. Something like apologizing to the parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American who was killed in Iraq in 2004. And he needs to make the point that all Americans should speak tenderly to Gold Star families.
Step two: He needs to shift the focus back to Hillary Clinton. After apologizing to the Khans, he could challenge Clinton to apologize to "Benghazi Mom" Patricia Smith for lying to her about the YouTube video being the reason for her son's death and then apologize for insinuating that Smith was the one lying about their encounter.
The liberal news media, which has turned into a full-on, red alert, anti-Trump vehicle, would have two choices after that: Either put similar pressure on Clinton or simply drop the story altogether. Either way, Trump would be better off.
Let's face it: "I'm sorry" doesn't seem to be in Trump's vocabulary. But it also doesn't seem to be in Clinton's either. Come to think of it, no presidents or presidential candidates have ever made any substantive apologies when they were still in the game. But if Trump is really serious about winning — and not just being some kind of Manchurian candidate who is helping his opponent — then he should seriously consider doing something out of character.
It wouldn't have to be a permanent change of character — just a one-off self-sacrifice in the name of his greater good — getting elected. Then, he could get back to beating the drum against ISIS and terrorism, a display of leadership to make America feel safe again.