Conan Gives Optimistic Take on Trump Presidency: 'We Have Been Here Before'

If you’re upset over the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election, Conan O’Brien says you should take heart in the idea that the United States, as a nation, is standing on well-trodden ground.

“We have been here before,” O’Brien told the studio audience at his late-night show’s taping Wednesday, saying Donald Trump’s imminent presidency — and the contentious contest with Hillary Clinton that preceded it — falls in line with historical examples like Abraham Lincoln vs. Stephen Douglas and Thomas Jefferson vs. Aaron Burr.

“This is our thing,” he continued. “And the optimist in me chooses today to be happy that we have fair and free elections at all. I think it’s an amazing thing.”

The host added that he’d traveled to places “where the people would give anything, anything to have our system. In America, we get to pick who’s going to ruin our country. It’s up to us!”

O’Brien closed out the monologue — which TBS released ahead of Conan‘s airing — with some wisdom from Winston Churchill and the return of an admittedly silly bit.

Press PLAY on the video above to watch, then hit the comments with your thoughts on O’Brien’s take.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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8 Comments
  1. peterwdawson says:

    It’s true, for all the rhetoric and such, this election isn’t really that new. As with most elections you just gotta hope the person that won won’t end up hurting the country overall.

    I mean for all the good-looking stats you can throw Obama’s way (unemployment being lower than when he first took office, markets being stronger, more americans have health insurance, ignoring ant ‘ah, but’ additions you could make to these stats for the moment) in the end enough people weren’t feeling the benefits of the government and went for the guy they think will help them. Government needs to work for everyone, and if you feel left out, well, we gotta look out for ourselves first.

    Here’s hoping the violence that’s already happened will not be the new norm for election day and post-election day…

  2. cuius says:

    Will be like Brexit in UK – lots of empty slogans – then the politicians get involved and nothing happens for 9 months – and then some watered-down action may result

  3. Charles says:

    we have been here before. It was 8 years ago. I woke up, the world had changed. Everything I believed in was gone. Lower taxes for all. smaller efficient government and a national debt, which still large was manageable, all gone. But i did not cry, I moved on. Both candidates this time were flawed. She was a crook or at least corrupt to the core. and he not a real republican. the people that believe Trump is going to send vast numbers of people out of the country are just dumb. the media had created this monster and did not care. My wife works with a young lady who actually thought a Trump win would mean people are going to be kidnapped and sent out of the country.
    So if you are not happy with this election and its results. Instead of crying or lashing out. get organized, campaign and move to states that did not go your way and start to change the electorate there. The coasts can complain about how the popular vote was for her, not him. but our Constitution has the electoral college. so unless you are prepared to create an amendment where 3/4 of the states have to ratify it ( and while doing so remove any power they have against larger states). the only way is to move to AL or MO in large numbers and change how elections will come out. But if you could not see the Rust belt was hurting with a lack of jobs or prospects and identity politics everywhere, then you were not looking

    • Mary says:

      I don’t think this fear or anger would have been here if Congress had done their job and elect a SCJ or if all those who claim to hate the way the government is didn’t re-elect the same people back in, which obviously many are ignorant on how the government is set up. This on top of a Candidate who through his own words insulted certain groups and made statement on his intentions. When you have Republican majority and a VP who is a true bigot then yes these fears are warranted. This election was more about anti establishment then a Republican or Democrat but the fact is the voters only did a one step instead of a two step program to get change. So the groups who stand to lose the most do take it personally and it is unrealistic or naive to make a statement just get over it.

      • Charles says:

        I do agree that Donald Trump is very thinned skin but no one is more thinned skin as President Obama. He has failed from 2009 when the Republicans came to him to work on health care and he told them elections have consequences and never worked with them from that point on. the American People then had him lose every election after that except of course 2012 when he was re-elected but he kept losing members of the House and Senators. So I would expect the same from President Trump since Obama did not negotiate his positions with the other party I would expect little negotiations here. However, Mr. Trump being a businessman I would say he may.
        the news media has created this monster and now after the election they have been writing that the fact they had made him sound so badly that had scared people into believing he is going to kidnap people and send them out of the country. That is a ridiculous thought. My wife literally had a young person she works with say she feared Trump was going to do that .
        the other problem the media has done is vilify every Republican candidate that runs against the Dems. So they were saying Romney gave people cancer and abused animals and was unfit for the job. they do it every time. So if you keep crying wolf in fear of the devil at your door eventually you may get him.
        As a republican, I can say Donald Trump is not one. he is a Democrat acting as a Republican. But when you see a person like HRC getting away with an illegal server so she could avoid FOiA investigations and not being held accountable by the DOJ ( who met with her husband) and refused to then proceed with FBI request for a grand jury Middle America gets upset and then you get Trump. There have been too many scandals from this Administration and WAY TOO much debt so it was time for a change. If Romney had been elected 4 years ago we would not have this Trump problem now

        • K says:

          It is hilarious that you call President Obama of all people thin skinned (or “thinned skin”) and blame the unprecedented obstruction by Republicans on him. You say they vilify Republicans but seem to be fine with Republicans calling President Obama a secret Muslim who was born in Kenya and wants to destroy America. Hillary Clinton gets crucified for things that didn’t matter when it was someone else. Of course the email issue is the most awful thing imaginable even though most people don’t know what exactly happened and how it is not so different from what others have done without it being a problem, but it’s obviously terrible.
          Donald Trump is no Democrat. He was nominated by Republicans and the majority of Republican voters voted for him. He is the face and the leader of your party. You own him. The rest of us just have to live with him.

    • K says:

      This is not just a regular election where the other side won. The KKK and the American Nazi Party are cheering and have been emboldened by this outcome. That is not the norm when a Republican is elected. Whatever your disagreements with President Obama were, he never said anything that’s comparable to the kind of things Donald Trump has said. An unprecedented number of people from Republicans who have worked closely with other presidents, to Nobel laureates in economics who barely agree on anything, to people whose job it would have been to launch nuclear weapons had they gotten the order, have warned that he is not fit to be President. People are not just unhappy with the election results. They are terrified that someone who seems to be unstable, is vindictive and does not take criticism well to put it mildly, and is so clearly not prepared in any way is about to become the most powerful man in the world. And even if you think that people who came to this country illegally have no right to be here, please try to imagine what a child feels right now who was born here but who is terrified that someone will come and take away his or her parents. Or a good decent person who loves America and hates terrorism and has no idea what is going to happen to them because they happen to be Muslim. I truly hope everything turns out okay, but please try to understand that this is not just like any other election where people aren’t happy that the other side won.

      • K says:

        And since Donald Trump refused to say that he would accept the outcome of the election if he lost, it is kind of worrying to think about what will happen if he loses in 4 years when he is already in power. Especially considering the kind of leaders he seems to admire. It is also hard to trust Republicans who said that their number one priority was making sure that President Obama would not have a second term when he was just elected and then refused to even try to work with him. The fact that they flat out refused to even consider Merrick Garland as a possible Supreme Court Justice is appalling. Especially when their ridiculous excuse that a year before the end of the President’s term was to late for him to choose the next Justice and the next President should get to appoint someone, turned out to be complete bs when they then said that they will block any of Hillary Clinton’s appointees even before she was (not) elected. They had every right to vote against him. They refused to even give him a vote. Republicans might call themselves patriots, but this sort of behavior is a threat to democracy.