President Obama was mostly light-hearted and jokey in his Rose Garden press conference a few moments ago, clearly relishing how easy it is to get under Donald Trump’s skin. Child’s play, really. But don’t let the tenor of his remarks obscure the underlying seriousness of the moment. A president of the United States was just urging the nominee of the leading opposition party to preserve America’s democratic tradition of peaceful transitions of power.

“It would be my job to welcome Mr. Trump, regardless of what he said about me or my differences with him on my opinions, and escort him over to the Capitol in which there would be a peaceful transfer of power,” Obama said, in comments that were as jarring as they were casually delivered. “That’s what Americans do. That’s why America is already great.”

With a poke at Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, Obama added, “One way of weakening America, making it less great, is that you start betraying the basic American traditions that have been bipartisan and have helped to hold together the democracy now for well over two centuries.”

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