Too little and too late, Donald Trump straightened up and made a presidential statement condemning the "heinous attack" on the United States Capitol.
"To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay," he added in a video posted on Twitter at 7:10 p.m. on Thursday — more than 24 hours after another video shows him with his family and aides, including Mark Meadows, standing and some dancing, as they watch the mob scene get fired up while the song "Gloria" blares in the background.
Will the real Donald Trump please stand up?
Too little, too late, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are taking away Trump's anything-goes megaphone. Now, so the social media giants say, if what he posts there is a provable lie, it will be removed.
Too little and too late, Republican leaders and his own Cabinet are running away from Trump, his lies and his administration.
Elaine Chao (wife of this week's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) and Betsy DeVos resigned after standing by Trump for almost four years. Chao even stood smiling beside him in August 2017 when he pronounced that the mob of white supremacist demonstrators who brought mayhem and death to Charlottesville a few days earlier include some "very fine people" and that "both sides" deserved blame for the violence when an avowed neo-Nazi rammed his car into a group of counterprotesters, killing one of them.
This week, both cited Trump's role in inciting this week's violence, though they had no trouble with his administration's treatment of other protesters or with it ripping children away from their parents on our Southern border.
Too little and too late, Trump in his newest pronouncement — no doubt one he thinks he must make to quiet the increasing talk of his vice president and Cabinet removing him or the increasing talk of Congress impeaching him for a second time. Perhaps he thinks suddenly seeming presidential will help him receive a pardon or some leniency down the road should he be found criminally liable for any one of several possible crimes.
Perhaps that, too, is why he now promises there will be peaceful transition of power to Joe Biden.
Of course there hasn't been a peaceful, or even cooperative, transition so far, and we'll still have a dozen days to watch for this promise to come true.
On Friday morning, Trump tweeted he will not attend Biden's inauguration. This is a norm we're delighted he is breaking. On the other hand, we wonder: Might it be a warning we should heed?
But let's look at some other statements and actions of Republicans in Trump's final soiled days — soiled not just by his call to supporters to "fight" for his election, but soiled because of his continued lies about the validity of the 2020 elections — both the presidential one and the Georgia Senate races that were completed just this week, though it now seems a lifetime ago.
Shortly before the Trump mob stormed the chambers where Biden's victory was to be certified, McConnell, Trump's four-year ally in thwarting all things Democratic, rejected all the false "rigged" election claims, saying his vote to certify Biden's election on Wednesday would be the "single most important vote" he has cast in 37 years in office.
McConnell, in fact, is now so done with Donald Trump that he has told fellow senators and other confidants that he does not plan to speak with Trump again, according to Washington Post reporting.
Lindsey Graham, another bosom buddy of Trump, said "Trump and I, we've had a hell of a journey. I hate it to end this way. Oh my God, I hate it. All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough. Maybe I above all others in this body need to say this: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and the vice president of the United States on January the 20th."
Sen. Mitt Romney, a two-time presidential contender himself, earned sustained applause from his colleagues in Wednesday's certification vote for a thundering speech in which he said elected leaders should show respect for voters by telling them the truth, not fueling groundless doubts about the election.
"We gather due to a selfish man's injured pride and the outrage of supporters who he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning," Romney said. "What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States."
But where were these voices for the past four years? Where were they in November? They now are too little and too late to repair the damage of all those lies. Too little and too late because we can't unsee the images of QAnon and Proud Boy leaders swarming and desecrating our nation's Capitol like disturbed fire ants.
We can hope Donald Trump means it this time when he condemns the "heinous act."
We can hope he means it this time when he promises a peaceful transition.
But we — and this nation — have been fooled by him before.
His vice president, his Cabinet (what there is left of it) and our Congress must do whatever it takes to not let it happen again. Not this year, or any year.