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INDIANAPOLIS—Some readers have taken me to task.

They say I am too hard on former President Donald Trump. They argue that I should criticize President Joe Biden more.

Furthermore, they contend that the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was no big deal. They say I should give Democrats who have done similar things a hard time.

They may have a point.

Maybe I should have upbraided former Vice President Al Gore when he encouraged his disappointed supporters to attack the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives after he lost the electoral vote count in 2000, even though he won the popular vote.

Similarly, I probably should have eviscerated John Kerry when he refused to concede the 2004 election to George W. Bush and did everything he could to obstruct the transfer of power.

And I should have laid waste to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she urged her disappointed supporters to invade and ransack the Capitol to prevent Trump’s election from being certified in 2016. I also should have pounded on her hard for ordering allies and underlings to ignore or even defy subpoenas and thus obstruct justice when Congress tried to investigate the insurrection.

But there’s no need to be partisan about this.

I also should have given Republican presidential nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney grief for attempting to overturn the election results in 2008 and 2012, respectively, when they each lost to President Barack Obama.

I wonder why I didn’t.


Maybe—and this is just a guess—I didn’t do so because none of those things ever happened.

Gore did contest in court the election results in Florida’s disputed balloting in 2000. But when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him, in a controversial 5-4 vote, he gave a gracious concession speech and urged the nation to move on.

As vice president, he had to oversee the counting of the electoral votes that would install George W. Bush in the Oval Office. When one of his supporters tried to challenge the counting, Gore ruled the challenge out of order.

Kerry overruled members of his own team who wanted to dispute vote counts in Ohio and elsewhere and conceded to Bush in 2004.

Clinton also conceded quickly, even though she won the popular vote by 3 million votes and many of her supporters wanted her to fight on. She put the nation’s interests ahead of her own.

What’s more, far from arguing that she actually won, she blamed herself in her memoir for the defeat and said her late father would be disappointed in her for losing an election she should have won.

And McCain and Romney each delivered concession speeches when they were defeated that were models of grace and conciliation—reminders that, however the voting may turn out, we are all citizens of the same country.

We are all Americans.

But, if none of those losing presidential candidates ever urged a mob to march on the Capitol, murder the sitting vice president simply for acknowledging the voters’ verdict and assault police officers who were trying to keep order, then what Donald Trump did is, uh, unusual.


And even un-American.

No president in our history or losing presidential candidate ever has urged citizens to take up arms to defy an election result.

John Tyler, it is true, sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War, but that happened nearly 20 years after he left the White House. And Aaron Burr likely did conspire to carve out a new empire of then distant American territories, but that was after he’d destroyed his political career by killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

The other examples are far more noble.

Stephen A. Douglas traveled the country following his defeat at the hands of Abraham Lincoln and urged his fellow Americans, North and South, to abide by the election results and turn away from violence. George H.W. Bush became a friend and source of counsel to the man who defeated him, Bill Clinton.

That’s the reason I continue to give Donald Trump a hard time.

He’s in a class by himself.

And not in a good way.

John Krull is director of Franklin College's Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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