It was a shock when the announcement was made from the Oval Office: the United Arab Emirates would recognise the state of Israel, sign a peace treaty, and host ambassadors in exchange for Israel withholding annexation of the West Bank. After four years of promising to bring his mastery of deal-making to the White House, but failing to disarm North Korea, secure comprehensive trade reform with China, bring Iran into a new nuclear agreement,or settle the 100-year war between Israel and the Palestinians, President Trump finally delivered a tangible diplomatic achievement. And a huge one it is, as experts immediately attested.
Forty-eight hours after Joe Biden's historic naming of Senator Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate, the timing of the announcement betrays its political utility at an inflection point in the US presidential campaign. It was to be expected that Trump, the ruthless and cunning master of the media cycle, would counter the unveiling of the first woman of colour on a presidential ticket with not one, but two, counterstrikes: a ground-shaking initiative in a completely unrelated area - the Middle East - and, as insurance to blunt whatever momentum Biden could get from Harris, overtly questioning whether she was legally qualified under the constitution to serve.
It was exactly the same fake and shameless charge Trump levelled for years against Barack Obama: is Harris a natural-born US citizen able to serve as vice president? The facts are incontrovertible; there is nothing here to prove. But the Trump playlist has its golden oldies, and he reprised his Obama hit: "So I just heard ... it today that she doesn't meet the requirements ... I have no idea if that's right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice-president. But that's a very serious - you're saying that, they're saying that she doesn't qualify because she wasn't born in this country."
Trump will take this ugly canard all the way through the election; it took him five years to concede Obama was born on American soil. But in the meantime, a reputational smear occupies news coverage.
Biden's selection of Harris cleared all the hurdles that could have harmed his standing at a pivotal moment. She was the best overall choice in a wide-ranging field of women leaders. Indeed, early polls show that the choice augmented Biden's leadership position at this stage of the campaign.
First and foremost, Harris is instantly seen as being qualified to become president at a moment's notice. This was a threshold factor in the minds of many, given Biden's age (he will be 78 on inauguration day in January). As a senator and former presidential candidate, someone tested and vetted at that level, Harris passes that test.
No ghosts from her past have yet emerged. No ethical charges have surfaced. Harris is not battling with past statements or gaffes on foreign policy or domestic issues that she would have to repudiate.
Over the past three months, Biden has consolidated a very strong position against Trump. His management of the pandemic is being adjudged a failure. Unemployment is at levels not seen since the Depression. There is a widespread sentiment that the country needs to move forward on racial justice. As a result, Trump is failing the election-deciding Ronald Reagan test from 1980: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Trump's approval rating is stuck just above 40 per cent. Even the Senate appears in danger of flipping Democratic.
As a result, Biden leads nationally by five to 10 points in the polls, and in swing states. As FiveThirtyEight has reported: "Biden is currently ahead in our polling averages in Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Ohio ... all places that Clinton lost in 2016. If he won those states (and held the other states Clinton won), that would be enough to give him 352 electoral votes. He's also within roughly 1 percentage point of Trump in Texas, Georgia, Iowa and Maine's second congressional district. If he won those, too, he'd be up to a whopping 412 electoral votes."
What can turn this around for Trump? A visible economic recovery that is evident by October and brings Americans back into paying jobs would work wonders. A severe resurgence of urban violence across the country would play into Trump's law-and-order theme of fear. An announcement before the election that the Operation Warp Speed vaccine effort has paid off and a safe and effective vaccine - complete with the Good Housekeeping seal of approval from Dr Anthony Fauci - will be available to the American people early in 2021 would instantly change the American people's sentiment and outlook, and help guide them to rewarding Trump with a second term.
But Trump will not regain the White House on the back of the UAE-Israel deal (even if Trump gets a Nobel Prize for it, as his staff is advocating). Not even the Middle East peace agreement judged the most historic - the one signed between Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel on the south lawn of the White House in 1979 - could save President Jimmy Carter's re-election in 1980.
So Trump has to do it the old-fashioned way: earn the trust of enough of his voters for four more years - and utterly destroy Biden and Harris in the eyes of many more of the American people.