Why? Because of a unique combination of timing, stakes and what Trump actually did.
I won't revisit all of the lurid details of Trump's hot mic incident. But, when "I moved on her like a bitch" -- what does that even mean??? -- is the least offensive thing that Trump told Billy Bush about his sexual conquests, you know it's bad.
Trump, as he often does, made a terrible situation even worse by writing the whole episode off originally as "locker room banter." By the time Trump took a second bite at the apology apple -- in a video released near midnight Friday -- he had already badly lost control of the situation, with dozens of top Republicans calling for him to step aside. (The video apology didn't help; Trump read directly from a teleprompter and seemed rote and unemotional. He also seemed to threaten to take the race further into the gutter in Sunday night's debate as well.)
The timing couldn't possibly be worse for Trump -- or the Republican party. The presidential election is a month away. Early voting has already begun in a number of states. There is simply no way to remove Trump from the ballot unless he steps aside — and there is no evidence that he would even consider doing so. And history suggests that events this close to an election — when even the casual voter is paying attention — tend to matter much more than things that might have happened a year or even six months ago.
Which brings me to the stakes. They are massive. Republicans are trying to get back the White House after eight years in the wilderness. GOPers are desperately trying to hold on to their Senate majority and sustain their majority in the House. A last-minute tanking at the top of the ticket -- and that is very much in play given the desperate straits in which Trump currently finds himself -- could badly depress Republican base turnout and lead to a wipeout up and down the ticket.
"Donald Trump is going to lose in an electoral college landslide that will endanger the GOP hold on the U.S. Senate, House, and the conservative movement," predicted John Weaver, a former senior adviser to Ohio Gov. John Kasich's 2016 presidential campaign.
Donald Trump has made a lot of history during his run for the White House in this election. He can add another history-making moment to that list: He had the Worst Week ever in Washington. Congrats, or something.