Donald Trump during his nomination acceptance speech Thursday at the Republican National Convention. Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

I think Donald Trump will now learn a lesson in what really wins and loses elections. It isn’t enough to scare the bejeebers out of the electorate and then offer yourself up as their savior. Votes are won and lost by specifics.

Trump had a bad day Thursday, despite officially becoming the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. It was less because of what he said in his acceptance speech (though the thuggish way he said it did him no favors) than because of his New York Times interview on NATO and other military treaties.

We already knew he admires Putin; now we know that if Putin threatens the Baltic states or other of our Eastern European allies, Trump might not come to their defense. The same, he says, is true of South Korea and Japan vis a vis North Korea.

Promising to stand by Israel come-what-may was a sure-fire applause line, but Trump is about to discover that a lot more Americans come from somewhere else. Hillary Clinton will see to it he finds out how many of those hyphenated-American voters there are. If you and your family, for example, are among the millions of Polish-Americans living here—including the approximately 150,000 living in Chicago—will you care what Trump says in his grandiose yet vague way about making America great and safe again if he’s unwilling to guarantee Poland’s protection unless Poland pays through the nose for the privilege?

At this level of specificity, Trump’s pronouncements become incoherent and contradictory, They don’t scan—as Clinton will happily point out. Gerry Ford might have won the election of 1976 if he hadn’t declared in his debate with Jimmy Carter that, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.” Ford’s declaration contradicted the facts and American foreign policy, but given a chance to correct himself Ford stuck to his guns. When Trump says he might blow off NATO, we can’t even assume he knows better.