TIME

MESSAGE DELIVERED

The candidate no one saw coming accomplished what few thought he could
Trump arrives with his family to greet the crowd at his victory celebration in New York on Nov. 9

IT WAS ALMOST 3 A.M. when the President-elect finally took the stage, his blue suit, white shirt and red tie perfectly matched to the phalanx of flags arranged behind him. The polls and the experts and the data modelers predicted it would be a woman for the first time in the nation’s history—but no, it was another man, another blue suit, another red tie.

And yet, if it had been the woman, everyone would have known what to expect.

Donald John Trump, political novice, self-promoter and gleeful provocateur, was elected the 45th President of the United States on Nov. 8 in one of the most extraordinary and unforeseen developments in American history. Universally dismissed as a vanity candidate when he entered a field crowded with Republican talent, the former Democrat and former Independent mowed down 16 challengers while breaking every rule in the book. Then he pivoted to take on one of the most seasoned and famous politicians in the world, a former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady, lost three straight debates to her (according to opinion surveys) and earned the disapproval of roughly 60% of all Americans. A dozen women accused him of sexual assault. He bragged about earning tens of millions of dollars each year while never paying income tax. His margin of victory in the Electoral College was on track to be the largest any Republican has achieved since 1988.

What would he say?

What could anyone say?

Of Hillary Clinton, the opponent he threatened to put in jail if he were elected, Trump said: “We owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.”

Of the nearly 60 million Americans who voted for Clinton after she denounced Trump relentlessly as a racist and sexist, Trump said: “I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”

Of the global community whose trade treaties he vowed to dismantle and whose alliances he called into question, Trump said: “I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone.”

Of his plans, which have always been lightly sketched, at best, Trump said: “America will no longer settle for anything less than the best.”

That is what he said, in a speech so subdued and low-energy that it could have been a hospital director’s annual message to the medical staff. Left unsaid was how he could make himself into the gentle, unifying and

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