The source of Presidential hate

For more than two decades, some Americans have vilified their presidents.  

The visceral level of hatred is unsettling to me.

Americans protesting Presidential visit

George H.W. Bush was strongly disliked by the Left, but the disdain was expressed as ridicule rather than poison, portraying him as a man hopelessly out of touch.

The hate started, in my memory, with Bill Clinton, who was disdained by the Right as a frat boy and unworthy successor to Bush, who was a war hero, ambassador and CIA chief. 

How much did Republicans hate Bubba? They impeached him over a blow job. (Impeachment was the process that failed to remove him from office. It actually made him stronger, which is why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is hitting the brakes, fearing impeachment would energize President Trump’s base.)

Clinton was followed by George W. Bush, whom the Left regarded as a simpleton, a spitting, cowboy boot-wearing faux president given the Oval Office by the Supreme Court.

Like Clinton, W was re-elected, which drove most Democrats batty. The hate was palpable. 

Next up, our first African-American president whose birth legitimacy was challenged by the man who was to become, unbelievably, his successor. Barack Obama was painted as a Marxist by Republicans, even after Obama rescued Wall Street after its own excesses nearly killed the economy.

There were probably places in America where Obama would not have been welcome — his State of the Union speech was interrupted by GOP congressman Joe Wilson shouting, “You lie.” 

Are you saying he did lie? 

Even if he did, Wilson’s disrespect was unacceptable. He was reprimanded by the House and he apologized to Obama.

Wilson was called a “racist,” with some Dems  saying, without proof, he never would have done that to a white president. 

Because I regard “racist” to be among the worst things anyone can be saddled with, I would apply it only with the strongest of evidence. I don’t believe the evidence was there in Wilson’s case,  and I even question it in Trump’s case.

So I find Joe Biden saying Trump has “fanned the flames” to be more acceptable than Beto O’Rourke’s charge that Trump is a “racist.” He may be, but I am unsure and until I am sure, I will avoid it.

I can’t deny that Trump has invited such attacks by his careless language and aversion to facts. 

When he started out by characterizing most illegals from Mexico as rapists and murderers, that was insanely stupid, but not “racist.” Mexicans are not a race, nor are the other “invaders” from Latin America. 

I know many don’t like the term invader, but it means to enter forcefully without invitation and that’s what millions from Latin America have been doing for decades. How else did we get some 11 million undocumented among us?

Trump’s big problem — something he shares with liberals — is a failure to distinguish between people coming to America legally and those arriving illegally. (I am setting aside the issue of those seeking refugee status, which is a relatively new development.) 

One of the major planks Trump ran on was shutting down illegal immigration. He could not get Mexico to pay for the wall, but has received some cooperation lately from our neighbor to the South.

When Trump arrived in Dayton today, he wisely avoided public settings. Mayor Nan Whaley courteously met with him, but also gave him a piece of her mind. Same with El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, as hundreds, if not thousands, of American citizens peacefully protested against their president.

Earlier in the year Trump said El Paso has a high crime rate when the opposite is true and characterized illegals as murderers. Because he is a sloppy speaker, some thought he was calling El Pasoans murderers. 

It’s doubtful our hypersensitive, combative president will change his tune, but maybe — in the words of an earlier vilified president, Richard M. Nixon — he will lower his voice.

Or perhaps, like Nixon, leave the White House in shame.

21 thoughts on “The source of Presidential hate”

  1. Good piece and as always a fair look at both sides. I had a bigger issue with Bubba trying to get the Christian vote by saying he would make abortion, safe, Rare, and legal. No further explanation should be needed. Bush 1 was a lil out of touch but he was an ace on foreign Affairs. Bush 2 was a decent guy who was in over his head. Obama, a great orator. Did some really good things but there is too much smoke around some of his foreign policy dealings that make me think that was his weakest point.
    Trump, take away Twitter, deal with the fact he is not an orator and he is the first president in my lifetime that is actually accomplishing what he promised during the campaign. He is not a politician and never will be but he didn’t say things and not do them. I hope that will be the case with gun reform. We shall see.

    Its been used to define and separate people for millennia. But the concept of race is not grounded in genetics. All Homo Sapiens are from Africa and are today’s humans. Modern humans originated in Africa and have lived there for at least 200,000 years. They’ve had time to evolve enormous genetic diversity which extends to skin color. The human genome consists of three billion base pairs divided into roughly 20,000 genes. One tweak of a single gene gives East Asians thicker hair. Similarly, Europeans have lighter skin because of a single tweak In one gene. Across the world today, skin color is highly variable. In Africa, skin color could be ebony, copper or black all based on how our ancestors dealt with sun exposure and not much else. Race is a human construction and has no scientific basis. Categories such as black, white, Indian, Chinese, were written into the Jim Crow laws and are now written into statutes like the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race or color. Scientifically all of the above have no scientific basis and pigmentation through our genetic makeup is the only individual sign of a difference in humans and not by race.
    All of the above information is taken from:
    National Geographic-Harvard University-Penn State Univ-New york times and from studies by geneticists from around the world.
    On another front we are related to the great apes through a biological kinship, humans are not only related to the great apes-we are one. From: The Smithsonian Institute, Human origins program.

    1. When I went to school there were nine planets.
      Now there are eight.
      When I went to school there were three races.
      Now there is one.
      If there is only one race, then we have to throw out the Civil Rights Act?
      Next question: How many genders are there?

      1. Non-binary; a quashing of the two gender nomenclature. But then there’s trans, “The Third Sex”
        So, non-trinary. Three sexes

  3. Philly Human relations dept says there are 17 genders , but i can’t get the list.

  4. Actually, I believe the hatred began much father back, with Nixon, whom the Left hated with undisguised passion. With Carter and the Gipper, et al came the ‘politics of destruction’ that peeled away what little civility remained between the two major political parties, as each tried to one-up the other in accusations through succeeding presidencies. At first, the hatred manifested itself in simple scorn for the other party, a long-accepted tradition in American politics. But soon scorn wasn’t enough to energize the parties’ bases and then came the digging into each candidate’s past to find dirt. And if no dirt was found, dirt was created.

    So far as the accusation of racism is concerned, what the hell does that word mean, anyway? If I say Obama was a lousy president, does that mean I’m a racist and hate blacks? No, it says I think Obama was a lousy president. Period. Pointing fingers and accusing anyone who speaks out as being a racist or anti-Semitic, or sexist, ad infinitum, will merely succeed in shutting down free speech.

    1. I mentioned Nixon, but it did not carry on to Ford. While many ridiculed Carter, and even some disliked Reagan, it was nothing like today.

      1. In my memory, no one was hated more than Nixon. His past as an anti-communist, his social formality, his handling of Vietnam and Cambodia, his Southern Strategy (a myth btw),etc. filled the Left with dueling bouts of contempt and rage, To this day, Nixon remains an incomparably Satanic figure in Safe Spaces of the Left.

        1. I think Trump is more openly hated than Nixon, but I’m not sure he’s more hated.

  5. Can anyone tell me what Trump has to do with:

    1. The incredible poverty in Philadelphia.

    2. The 5 thugs who tried to pull someone out of their car at 13th & Arch without a word from our Mayor.

    3. The endless succession of Philadelphia politicians that have been, or are now, in federal prison.

    4. A Mayor who has spent 20 years as an elected official yet blames Trump for everything.

    5. A Mayor that has no relationship with Washington or Harrisburg.

    6. A cowardly Mayor that will bad-mouth the President in front of school children but run out the back door when reporters try to question him about a member of his party facing a 116 count federal indictment.

    7. A cowardly Mayor who won’t debate his political opponent because of an alleged ” relation ” this opponent has but the Mayor’s biggest supporter is facing a 116 count federal indictment and the Mayor never has a comment about that.

    8. A DA who really doesn’t give a damn about crime victims.

    9. A School District that still doesn’t work.

    10. A city council in which only one member can actually read AND UNDERSTAND a balance sheet and what many zeroes behind a dollar sign actually mean.

    11. Laws that apply to some people but not to others.

    12. A city council that has picked all the low hanging fruit there is. There is no more.

    13. A city council more concerned about plastic bags than crime.

    14. An embarrassingly filthy, dirty city.

    15. And as I always say……as I look around my neighborhood at who is committing crime….it sure as hell isn’t Donald Trump.

  6. Stu – a very good article. I did want to add that virtually all of past prez’s have been vilified at one time or another. About the only one who has escaped was George Washington – and barely at that. He was the first, and too-new, to have too much thrown at him while we were finding our way with the new republic, even with all its trials and tribulations. Most people don’t realize how despised Abraham Lincoln became…while most of that was from the South, there was a goodly amount of dissent from the North for having gotten us into a long Civil War that cost 640,000+ lives. And he couldn’t get a set of good generals together either at first – it took almost 3 years for that to finally come around (if you don’t believe me, read the book “Lincoln and his Generals”).

    Nonetheless, our current and widening political polarization will only contribute to future worsening vilification.

  7. Stu, You’re too young to remember FDR. When I was a kid. folks down the street hated him. Republicans were convinced he was a communist and created social security to compete with the Soviet Union. And when Truman fired MacArthur the outcry was widespread. In fact Truman’s popularity after that was 22%, the lowest of any President, ever.

    No, I think hating the president is not new. It’s just that mass media spreads the news so fast and furious that it seems to be worse. Read some of what Jefferson and Adams said about each other.

    Nice website.

    1. I don’t personally remember FDR or Lincoln, who was despised by many. What I am seeing is the continuous vitriol and you are right that mass media fuels a lot of it.

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