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Can Americans Respect a President They Don't Like?

BDS: Bush Derangement Syndrome. The increasingly serious diagnosis of people who blame President George W. Bush for all manner of disappointments. The venomous hatred of President Bush goes all the way back to his Inauguration, and has included such notable milestones as a movie celebrating his possible assassination. Before Bush, President Clinton experienced a similarly odious treatment, accused of everything from complicity in rape and murder to deliberate treason against America. For at least half a generation, the President of the United States has been smeared by a substantial portion of the population, regardless of political affiliation or his actual conduct. To some degree, this is almost an American tradition - Abraham Lincoln was denounced in newspaper editorials as a buffoon and as a stupid man who did not understand the office he held. Grover Cleveland was the target of smear campaigns by corrupt politicians whose plans he opposed. Teddy Roosevelt was commonly regarded as incompetent and reckless, as was Andrew Jackson by his enemies (although Jackson's enemies were a bit more anonymous, since Jackson held a formidable reputation as an accomplished duelist). Even so, the modern disparagement of the President seems well out of balance and fueled by a most unhealthy and irrational spite.

And this coming election may promise no better climate. Democrats have to choose between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, with indications that supporters of the losing candidate may find it difficult to support the party nominee. The Republicans also face a schism, as John McCain's vindictive and foolish rejection of Conservative Republicans (even as he pretends to be a Conservative himself) is increasingly likely to bring about their rejection of McCain in the Fall. All of the three significant candidates for President, therefore, have alienated and antagonized significant portions of the populace, generating sizable negatives. It would seem that a most unlikeable President is about to take office. What then?

Speaking for myself, I never liked President Clinton, but he was not wholly incompetent. Faint praise I admit, but what I mean is that even where I disagreed with his decisions and policies, I never lost sight of the context, nor took to blaming him for obscene lies. I will not grace them here with specific mention, but many readers will recall the sorts of things which, on no evidence, President Clinton was accused. And as with Bush, more than a few people claimed Clinton was the worst of all the Presidents, forgetting Woodrow Wilson's belief that the Constitution should be replaced, Andrew Johnson's drunken binges, James Buchanan doing nothing to prevent the Civil War, or James Madison's invasion of Canada. Clinton's enemies ignored his successes, just as Bush's do now. As much as I dislike any of the three main contenders to become the next President, I still make the effort to note their ability and skills, and to respect the office, and in time, hopefully the President. It is important to the Nation that we all make that effort.


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Comments (30)

Great post! I'm going to m... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

Great post! I'm going to make the effort no matter who wins.

Go Obama!

Andrew Jackson, now there w... (Below threshold)
twolaneflash:

Andrew Jackson, now there was a man who proved that an armed society is a polite society. Hold your tongue or I'll feed it to the worms is a sentiment the MSM should face every now and then. I seem to remember not too long ago that my neighbor,Zell Miller, said on national tv that Chris Matthews' mouth made him wish for the time of duels, and told Matthews he wouldn't talk that way if they were in the same room. A good ol' can of whoop and a hot cup of STFU is a breakfast for talking heads for which I would pick up the bill and tip the waiter generously.

twolaneflash - I wouldn't u... (Below threshold)

twolaneflash - I wouldn't use Andrew Jackson as your example. While president, he came within an inch of being assasinated. Both of the would-be assassin's pistols misfired, even though in subsequent repeated tests, the pistols worked perfectly every time. The attacker stood a mere eight feet from the president and had a clear shot both times.

DJ - good post, though to continue on Jackson, not all attacks against him were not unwarranted (although the one against his wife was totally out of bounds). The man was caustic and treated people roughly. It's debatable that his "bank war" with Nicholas Biddle eventually led to the Panic of 1837.

er, unwarranted, not "not u... (Below threshold)

er, unwarranted, not "not unwarranted"

I believe the smear campaig... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I believe the smear campaign going on in regards to John McCain will bring most conservatives out of hiding. It is the old addage that "I can beat him, but you can't." Secondly, most conservatives vote first and foremost for the good of the country. The conservative will vote for McCain. We may hold our nose while we do it, but for the good of the country, it has to be done.

Having followed politics for many years, I have not seen anything like the hatred the left shows towards our president and in turn our country. I do not think it can be equaled. I don't trust people that are motivated by hatred. ww

You are much too forgiving ... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

You are much too forgiving of Clinton. I don't think that's just partisanship talking. The man is slime.

If it is Obama, I'll give him the respect he is due unless he proves to be corrupt.

If it is Hillary, she is already known to be corrupt. She gets no respect from me. For only one incident of many, remember what she did to the White House Travel Office employees? That's Hillary advocating for "the little guy." That type of conduct is unforgivable (speaking in a political context.) She seeks to completely destroy those who she perceives as enemies or unuseful.

All animosity aside, I will NOT be calling her HillHitler. Unbeknownst to the opposition, some lines shouldn't be crossed. My disrespect will be rooted in fact.

I never lost sight... (Below threshold)
jpm100:
I never lost sight of the context, nor took to blaming him for obscene lies. I will not grace them here with specific mention, but many readers will recall the sorts of things which, on no evidence, President Clinton was accused.
I have to say unsupported outlandish claims were more a shield for Bill Clinton than a liability. Legitimate issues got buried by the more fantastic and salacious scandals. In fact, the Monica scandal was the best thing that happened to Bill Clinton, imho.
For a president to be resp... (Below threshold)
JFO:

For a president to be respected he must first be deserving of respect. It seems to me that one makes that judgment based on the president's actions and words.

I don't "hate" Bush but his actions and words, for the most part, are not deserving of my respect.

Can one respect the office ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Can one respect the office but not the man (or woman)?

Yes, it's possible for me t... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

Yes, it's possible for me to dislike and respect a president. That respect would be relative to what he's done that I agree would be the best action to take.

JFO again brings a knife to... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

JFO again brings a knife to a gunfight. The left hated GW from the get go. What JFO means is we will hate you until you prove you need to be hated more. ww

WWI didn't know th... (Below threshold)
JFO:

WW

I didn't know this was a gunfight - but then an asshole like you would of course think it is. I just thought it was a discussion about respect and liking or disliking a president.

Geez man, talk about blind hatred. You're full of it though you love to preach pompously about how "the left" in toto thinks and what we "all' believe.

JFO by commmenting that res... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

JFO by commmenting that respect is earned, you are inferring that the hatred to GW is based on his actions when in fact, you and your lefty brethren hated him from the very beginning. Now, take your foul language and your inability to persuade home with you. ww

Mantis -"Can one r... (Below threshold)

Mantis -

"Can one respect the office but not the man (or woman)?"

Yes - I did during my time in the military in the Clinton era. The respect wasn't exactly returned - although Bush 41 and Bush 43 had no hesitation about flying into our Air Reserve base, located very close to Atlanta - Clinton preferred to bollix up traffic at Hartsfield.

You ALWAYS salute the rank, even if the person wearing or holding it isn't (in your opinion) worthy of it.

JLawsonI would put... (Below threshold)
JFO:

JLawson

I would put a little different spin on your comment. When I was in the military President Nixon was my boss and, I agree, you always salute the rank.

As a civilian my perspective is that the president works for me (the generic me, meaning all of us). Therefore what he does and what he says determines whether he is entitled to respect. And if an incumbent, he/she can always be fired.

Clinton 's actions in offic... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

Clinton 's actions in office are despicable. Even then the former Bush I had such a respect for the office of the presidency and the country that he didn't go around the world embracing the enemies and disparaging Clinton 's foreign policies. Clinton and Carter are probably the worst examples of ex-presidents by the words and actions. And the excuse of the liberals all these years show how much they really respect the office of presidency. By their actions and words, the dem leaders in the WH and now in Congress don't deserve respect. In fact, they are despicable.

Yes - I did during... (Below threshold)
mantis:
Yes - I did during my time in the military in the Clinton era. The respect wasn't exactly returned - although Bush 41 and Bush 43 had no hesitation about flying into our Air Reserve base, located very close to Atlanta - Clinton preferred to bollix up traffic at Hartsfield.

You ALWAYS salute the rank, even if the person wearing or holding it isn't (in your opinion) worthy of it.

Sure, but what about for citizens who have not been in the military? For myself, I respect the office and consider it very distasteful, not to mention stupid and childish, to refer to the president by the many names tossed around by his detractors (you know them already, so I won't bother reproducing them). He is still our president, and I prefer to refer to him as the president, or President Bush, and usually don't even refer to him as simply "Bush" unless it is a subsequent mention. If I were to meet him in person I would certainly show him the respect that the office deserves, despite my feelings about his character and his policies. I think there is value in showing the proper respect for our country's highest office.

That said, I do not respect the man as much as some others. That isn't to say I have zero respect for the president; he has certainly done some things that get him points in my book, but more often he has not.

But there is a parallel to what you said. As a soldier you salute the rank regardless of your own opinion. The president is your commander in chief, and as a civilian he is my president, and that deserves respect.

No need to wait for the ele... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

No need to wait for the election, I don't like or respect the next President.

If you dislike your elected... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:

If you dislike your elected president, you may then do what we did in the service--"respect the rank, if not the man". Nothing difficult about that.

Well said at #17, mantis.</... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Well said at #17, mantis.

(I'm sure I'll get a lot of "negative" votes for this post. LOL.)

in fact, you and your le... (Below threshold)
Brian:

in fact, you and your lefty brethren hated him from the very beginning.

Another hysterical but easily disproved right-wing meme.

Bush had higher approval ratings than Clinton when they each first took office, and for a couple of years had higher approval than Clinton ever had his entire term. The difference is that Bush spiked and then tanked, while Clinton steadily increased.

Here's another interesting chart.

Brian just shows his antics... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

Brian just shows his antics again. If Brian is representative of liberal thinking, then it is truly sick. It means that liberals respect Clinton more than Truman!

BTW, I hope that Obama will not be our next commander-in-chief. The man is arrogantly dangerous.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/02/019859.php
I know the competition is fierce, but Obama may turn out to be the most intellectually dishonest Democratic presidential nominee of my lifetime.


Brian just shows his ant... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Brian just shows his antics again.

I think you had a typo. You wrote "antics" when you meant to write "facts".

I think you had a typo. You... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

I think you had a typo. You wrote "antics" when you meant to write "facts".
-----------------------------------
Thanks for confirming the facts that liberals respect Clinton than Truman because he had a higher poll numbers. That 's the liberal standard we expect. Not a surprised here, but thanks again for the confirmation.


It depends on the president... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

It depends on the president. If the president elected is honest about what they want, what they are doing, and what they are going to do, i will respect them even though i may disagree. If the president lies, is dishonest, and starts pushing a crazy agenda that they never ran their presidential campaign based on, then I lose respect and will then start the *DS. (Asterik Derangement Syndrome. Fill in the blank haha)

I will not, however, participate in the kooky and crazy conspiracy theories and blame the future president for school shootings, hurricanes and all that nonsense, but they will get no sympathy from me if others are doing that, provided the president turns out to be dishonest in any way.

Thanks for confirming th... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Thanks for confirming the facts that liberals respect Clinton than Truman because he had a higher poll numbers.

At the beginnings of their terms, yes, obviously. Glad to see you can interpret charts.Though Clinton had double Truman's approval at the ends of their terms. Not sure what that's supposed to prove, other than your apparent belief that presidents are supposed to be divisive from the get-go. Besides, I'd venture to say that most of the people who contributed to Truman's high approval numbers in 1945 are dead now.

By the way, you forgot to work "killing babies, not terrorists" into your rant. Try to remember that for next time.

If the president lies, i... (Below threshold)
Brian:

If the president lies, is dishonest, and starts pushing a crazy agenda that they never ran their presidential campaign based on, then I lose respect and will then start the *DS.

Bush on Nation Building before Election:
  • I'm worried about an opponent [Gore] who uses nation building and the military in the same sentence.
  • I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation building.
  • ... a nation-building corps from America. Absolutely not. Our military is meant to fight.
  • He [Gore] believes in nation building. I would be very careful ...
"The Republicans also face ... (Below threshold)
Le Messurier:

"The Republicans also face a schism, as John McCain's vindictive and foolish rejection of Conservative Republicans (even as he pretends to be a Conservative himself) is increasingly likely to bring about their rejection of McCain in the Fall."

The above should obviously read ... "as the Conservatives vindictive and foolish rejection of John McCain is increasingly likely to bring about the victory of the Democrats in the Fall". McCain is not a conservative. Only a candidate who is perceived to be somewhere near the center can win. The Conservatives who reject McCain are murdering the Republican
Party and are committing suicide themselves.

Bush on Nation Building bef... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

Bush on Nation Building before Election
--------------------------------
Another silly spin from Brian. Why don't liberals want nation building now? Because Bush is for it?

"Geez man, talk about bl... (Below threshold)

"Geez man, talk about blind hatred. You're full of it though you love to preach pompously about how "the left" in toto thinks and what we "all' believe."

You got a lot of nerve, JFO, bringing up your faux outrage over 'blind hatred'. Do I really need to bring up all the comments you've made here?

Like this?
Or this?
Or this incoherent missive?
Or this one that bears the label of "disingenuous hypocrisy" a mere 7 days after first link above?




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