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Robert Mugabe

Trump's scorched earth

Trump's scorched earth

The conventional wisdom coming out of Sunday night's presidential debate is that Republican Donald Trump performed well enough to stop the stampede of GOP officials who had dropped their support of him or outright called for him to leave the race after Friday's release of a recording in which he bragged about sexually assaulting women. The Republican Party probably won't now cut off support for his campaign, as some had been urging, and the likes of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can probably maintain their nose-holding support for him.

But while they breathe sighs of relief that Mr. Trump didn't literally melt into a puddle on the stage,...