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Among Donald Trump’s problems in his long, hot and mostly housebound summer is that he has lost his once unparalleled gift for changing the story. He still can stir outrage, but even among his supporters he no longer has much capacity to surprise. “Every hero,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson a century before the president was born, “becomes a bore at last.”

But here is a way Trump could demonstrate that an old master still knows how to tear up the script and leave the audience gasping.

As it happens, the Trump Drops Out scenario is one I have trafficked to colleagues and sources for a couple years now, usually to dismissive grunts or quizzical stares. It is true that there is scant time left for the scenario to come to pass. It’s true also that, if I were a reliable predictor of Trump’s political fortunes, Hillary Clinton would now be running for reelection.

But even if one doesn’t really think Trump will drop out of the race—as a proselytizer of the theory I acknowledge it is a stretch—it is worth examining the reasons he just might, as a way of illuminating the bleakness of his situation with just over three months to go before the general election.

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