At around noon, President Obama addressed the nation for the first time since a Trump presidency became our reality. I stood around a television in my office with several of my colleagues and watched as our current president spoke tactfully about his deep admiration of Clinton’s campaign and hopes for a peaceful transition of power and a bright future for the country. It was a fine speech, but given the contentious nature of this entire election, it wasn’t doing much to lift my spirits.
Ever the nation’s dad, Obama reminded us that in a democracy, somebody always has to be the loser. Sometimes, even him. “I’ve lost elections before … Joe hasn’t,” Obama joked, gesturing to Vice-President Joe Biden, who was standing behind him during the speech. In case 2008 feels like a distant memory at this point, remember that Biden also ran a campaign to be the Democratic nominee for president that year, which he, obviously, did not win.
Watching the speech on CNN, you couldn’t really see that Biden had been standing anywhere near the lectern. So when the vice-president popped his head into the shot, touched Obama’s shoulder, and joked, “You beat me badly,” it was almost a surprise. A fun surprise. Like seeing your favorite correspondent on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” roll their chair into the frame to just make you giggle for a split second and then immediately roll away.
In that moment, for the first time since realizing Donald Trump is going to run the country for the next four years, I laughed. My colleagues did, too. First, just small sounds as we all looked around at one another, but then louder, real laughter. The kind you need to get through a day where so many people are scared and hurting.
Thanks, Joe. We needed that.