Kristof, Bruni, and Cohen have a combined 181 years among them on this planet. That is to say nothing of the other columnists who participated in the New York Times project, including Gail Collins, 74, and Maureen Dowd, 68.

They lived through Abscam, the Iran-Contra scandal, the Waco massacre, Bill Clinton perjuring himself, the launch of the Forever Wars, the federal government’s culpability in the financial crisis, the Veterans Affairs scandal, the NSA spying scandal, and the extrajudicial droning of American citizens.

But it was not until this administration that the U.S. lost its “innocence,” its “persuasion,” its “pride,” and its standing as a democratic world power?

After all the suffering America has endured, it is the height of privilege to suggest this country is now irreversibly tarnished because an offensive, impulsive man is president. It is the height of privilege to know what we know about U.S. history and assert nevertheless that the past four years have been uniquely dark and damaging. Imagine being old enough to have lived through the assassinations of the Kennedys and leaders of the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war, the Nixon presidency, the chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention, and so on and actually suggest that the Trump administration is this lowest point in this country’s history. Imagine knowing even a little about chattel slavery, the American Civil War, the Indian Removal Act, and the illegal bombing campaign in Cambodia, and still assert, with a straight face, that America’s “innocence,” “apathy,” and “generosity” were not lost until Hillary Clinton blew a winnable election.