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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

Skelton: Trump maligns real ‘darkest days’

By George Skelton
Published: June 10, 2024, 6:01am

It’s sad and scary that so many people can believe anything from Donald Trump’s mouth when he contends his felony conviction marked the “darkest day in American history.”

Yes, the Trump campaign actually claimed that in a fundraising pitch.

The darkest day? Really?

Merely because Trump was found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records involving a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who said she had extramarital sex with him in 2006? The prosecution contended he feared that if the Lake Tahoe one-night stand became public, it would hurt his chances of being elected president in 2016.

Trump wasn’t convicted of paying hush money. That’s not illegal. He was found guilty of falsely recording it as a legal expense.

This year’s prospective Republican presidential nominee was convicted by a 12-member Manhattan jury that his legal team helped select. And we saw again that when things go wrong for Trump, it’s never his fault.

“This was a rigged, disgraceful trial,” he told reporters. Just as he still claims without evidence that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him — “stolen.”

The judge was “a devil,” “crooked” and “a tyrant,” he proclaimed. And the case was instigated by the Biden administration — a preposterous contention given that it was a state prosecution, not federal.

Trump’s lack of character is continually displayed by his inability to ever concede defeat, let alone express remorse. Unlike normal humans, he’s too gifted to ever lose. Somebody cheated.

I might not have written anything about this madman’s conviction if his campaign hadn’t emailed a hyperbolic fundraising appeal that at the top proclaimed Thursday, May 30, as the “DARKEST DAY IN AMERICAN HISTORY!” Another emailed fundraising plea screamed: “I AM A POLITICAL PRISONER.”

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Either Trump and his team have no sense of history, or he doesn’t even try to tell the truth. Probably both. It shows an unacceptable recklessness with words that makes him unfit to lead America. Calling May 30 the nation’s darkest day is disrespectful to the Americans and their families who have suffered truly dark days.

Let me remind you of a few just in my lifetime.

• Dec. 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt eloquently tagged it. Pearl Harbor came under surprise attack by 353 Japanese warplanes, sinking or damaging 16 U.S. ships and killing 2,393 Americans. That day thrust the U.S. into World War II, which killed 416,000 American military personnel.

• June 6, 1944, D-Day. Looking at the big picture, this was a bright day for Allied forces who stormed Normandy beaches and began the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany. But it was a dark day for the families of 2,501 Americans who were killed on D-Day alone.

• Nov. 22, 1963, the day when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a rifle-wielding ex-Marine while riding in a Dallas motorcade.

• Sept. 11, 2001, when Islamist suicide terrorists hijacked four airliners, crashing two of them into the World Trade Center in Manhattan. The deadliest terrorist attack in history killed 2,977 people and injured thousands more.

• Jan. 6, 2021. That’s when a mob of 2,000 Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol in a crazed effort to prevent Congress from certifying the presidential election of Joe Biden. Five people died within 36 hours.

So on the scale of dark days, May 30 isn’t even a blip. It affected only one person, who apparently cashed in on it politically.

In one respect, it was a dark day because so many Americans bought into the con man’s lies or were afraid to stand up to him. In another respect, it was a shining day for America because it showed that not even a very powerful bully is above the law.

A truly dark day in American history — ushering in a dark four years — would be Nov. 5, if Trump is again elected president.

George Skelton is a political columnist for the Los Angeles Times.