Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that we were told that the presidential election was over?
It was so over that Hillary Clinton's staff eagerly anticipated measuring the White House drapes in anticipation of the Clinton Restoration.
And Donald Trump kept shooting his feet off with that stupid and vulgar mouth of his, until only the stumps remained.
Reduced in stature, bitter, he wiggled those stumps in anger, shrieking at the unfairness of American journalism, a billionaire Trumplestiltskin going down.
His political carcass was to be hauled off to some rendering plant, his bones to be boiled down for cosmetics for suburban independent women and for hair care products for those establishment Republican suits and the war party neo-cons who now back Clinton.
All Hillary had to do to win was protect her double-digit polling lead, and play prevent defense and avoid a formal news conference where she'd be asked tough questions.
You can see it, can't you, like a summer dream.
After her election, she's sitting on a big comfy pillow on her royal barge "The Wall Street" as it floats down the Potomac, while a great orchestra plays Handel's "Water Music" and she and Bill smile and wave, Queen Georgiana and the First Laddie with the federal hammer in their hands.
And Hillary's jesters in the Department of Justice, resplendent in harlequin costumes and curly toed boots, perform intricate medieval egg dances for the wonderment of the crowds, spilling not one single golden summer yolk.
But then summer did what summers do, and Labor Day passed, and reality entered into things doing what reality does, with teeth.
And now a new CNN poll shows the race tightening, at least nationally, with Trump holding a thin two-point lead.
So it's not over? This race has tightened?
Are the Democrats looking for a parking spot in Panic City? Not necessarily. But Democrats and establishment Republicans who loathe Trump might be chewing off a few fingernails.
Clinton's campaign is doing a remarkably fine job taking Trump's worst quotes and using them against him in devastating campaign spots in the battleground states. And she's doing well in those states where the Electoral College counts most in presidential elections. If the election were held today, Mrs. Clinton would most probably win.
But elections are about momentum, and that momentum could be turning Trump's way, and that's her problem, as these two disliked, flawed candidates wage a battle to define the future of America.
Perhaps that's truly why this race is so brutal, so angry, and why the worried American corporatist establishment cleaves to Hillary as Donald plays the insurgent in this insurgent year.
Borders and culture have been in play, and we limp on with a ridiculously low 1 percent economic growth rate, a number better suited for some Third World banana republic than the United States of America.
We have an election with the establishment and Hillary on one side and Donald on the other, backed by the unemployed working class that once formed the backbone of the Democratic Party, before they were kicked to the margins in the new globalism and mocked as unlettered racists by the pundits.
Is it possible not to like Trump, yet also to loathe Clinton and the history of the Clintons and their lies and their parsing language and their contempt for the law, and worry what they'll do to the country? I think so.
But the way this plays out in the media, any slight nod toward Trump sets you up to be branded, angrily and publicly, as a bigot. It is a formulation that drives clicks for the legion of pro-Hillary writers, and it serves the Democrats well, but it also smacks of something else:
Of being herded by cowboys with cattle prods at the stockyards. And pushed too far, there could be a backlash in the chutes.
Clinton has many advantages. She's got Wall Street, not only its millions but its leverage. She has the Republican establishment that fears a Trump election will push it away from the great federal table (or trough).
A great advantage is that American media has openly waged war on her behalf. She has Hollywood magicians and the hedge fund boys, and Black Lives Matter and suburban moderate moms.
How can they all live happily together under the Hillary umbrella? They can't, not for long. It's an impossible coalition for Clinton to hold. But it won't break until after the elections in November.
So what happened to Hillary? How could it be so close?
Here's what happened. Hillary happened to Hillary.
Her problem is that she has always been Hillary Clinton, understood to be a liar, the Democratic Nixon in pantsuits.
And Americans were reminded again of what the Clintons are really about, with the release before the Labor Day weekend of the FBI report about her emails when she was secretary of state:
Americans were reminded of her wheedling, the lies, her inability to recall when asked by the FBI. The lost phones and iPads -- some smashed by a hammer. And those hundreds of State Department workers who kept their mouths shut about what she did, like patronage hacks at some machine-run City Hall, and her staff's deletion of thousands of emails under subpoena.
That's why the race has tightened. Americans were reminded about the true Hillary, and she can't have that.
And if you thought it was ugly before, just wait.