We probably don’t need to tell you that the 2020 presidential election was a hotly contested affair.
In fact, here we are 18 months later (roughly 47 years in Covid time), and a lot of people still seem to be confused about which candidate won and which one lost.
If you’re one of those people, allow us to lend you a hand:
Regardless of how you feel about it personally, President Biden won both the popular and electoral contests, securing 306 votes in the latter, considerably more than the 270 needed to declare victory.
As for former White House resident Donald Trump, well … saying he didn’t take the loss well would be like saying Vladimir Putin has been acting a bit rude lately.
As expected, Trump ranted and raved.
He urged his supporters to help him “stop the steal,” and he ordered his cronies to “find” more votes.
And in a move unprecedented in the history of the American presidency, he refused to admit defeat, even after it became abundantly clear that his opponent had emerged victorious by any measure.
Trump’s insistence that he was being unfairly railroaded out of office resulted in the January 6 insurrection, as well as a whole bunch of awkward Thanksgiving dinners and sullen uncles in red baseball caps.
So you can imagine the surprise of Trump supporters this week when the Donald finally admitted defeat.
Speaking with a panel of historians convened by Princeton professor Julian Zelizer this week, Trump displayed his rarely-seen conciliatory side in an effort to preserve whatever might be left of his legacy.
At one point, Trump was asked about his efforts to get President Moon Jae-in of South Korea to pay more for US military support.
“When I didn’t win the election, he had to be the happiest,” Trump said of Moon.
“By not winning the election,” 45 continued, “he was the happiest man – I would say, in order, China was – no, Iran was the happiest.
Yeah, from there, it was the usual Trump rambling about how all the bad guys hated him.
But this rant was different from the millions that came before it, in that it contained the phrase “when I didn’t win the election.”
Now, obviously, Trump would never use the L-word in reference to himself, but still — this is major progress.
It’s a far cry from the many, many times that Trump has insisted that he’s the victim of the largest election fraud campaign in the history of the world.
So naturally, it wasn’t long been before Team Trump started running damage control.
“President Trump has been very clear that the election was rigged and stolen,” spokeswoman Liz Harrington said in an email to Newsweek after the interview went public.
“And tens of millions of Americans agree.”
Trump is in a tough spot here, as he wants to come off as relatively sane in future history books, but he also doesn’t want to abandon his most batsh-t arguments.
According to Zelizer, the former president seemed deeply concerned with how he would be perceived by the panel of historians, but still demonstrated no “understanding of how historians gather evidence or render judgments.”
“I’m looking at the list, it’s a tremendous group of people, and I think rather than being critical I’d like to have you hear me out, which is what we’re doing now, and I appreciate it,” Trump told the group.
In an uncharacteristically cooperative move, the former president’s staff provided the historians with documents “that portrayed him as a conventional president with a moderate record.”
The interview reportedly “underscored common criticisms: that he construed the presidency as a forum to prove his dealmaking prowess; that he sought flattery and believed too much of his own spin; that he dismissed substantive criticism as misinformed, politically motivated, ethically compromised, or otherwise cynical.”
Needless to say, all of that is putting it very mildly.
You know you were a horrendous president when the goal of your post-administration apology tour is to maybe not be perceived as the absolute worst in the nation’s history.
But hey, the good news here is that this might be our first indication that Donnie plans to sit out the ’24 election.
After all, he might not want to take the risk of doing even more damage to his precious legacy!