United States President™ brand has lost too much value.
A couple years ago, a colleague of mine admitted to loving the President of the United States.
“I just love him,” she said, in all sincerity, regarding President George W. Bush. “I think he’s terrific.”
I didn’t think Mr. Bush was very terrific, but I didn’t have the energy to straighten her out. Who has the energy to take on the power of love?
The point is, love is rarely a word one applies to the President of the United States these days. Despite my co-workers admiration, it’s safe to say that a great deal of people didn’t like Mr. Bush very much. We mocked him. Sneered at his policies. Openly doubted his intelligence.
Somewhere down the line, we lost respect for the office of the Presidency.
Today, the President addresses school children on the Internet, and Conservatives respond as though he is trolling around playgrounds in a van offering crack to kids.
Today, the President addresses members of Congress only to have an elected lawmaker interrupt the speech by calling the President a liar. To his face. On national TV*.
Since the founding of this country, the President, even the great ones, has been subject to ridicule and insults. Andrew Jackson was labeled a bigamist. Some called Abraham Lincoln an ape. But today, what Conservatives hurl at the President is nothing less than seething hatred that bypasses reason with barely a glance.
Our President has been called godless. Socialist. Communist. Weak. A Muslim (an insult?). A liar. A foreigner. A radical. People appear on camera to admit that they fear the President. Fear him! As though he were something that oozed out of a haunted lake.
There is a weird segment of this country that treats the President of the United States as an enemy.
Wasn’t there a time when the Oval Office alone commanded respect? After all, it is an office appointed by the will of the people. Us. And when we levy these blind, baseless, idiotic charges at our President, aren’t we really self-indicting here?
Insulting the President has always been a national pastime.
Once, my Dad took me aside and took umbrage for the way I treated President Bush on these digital pages. “Would you say the same things to President Bush’s face as you do on your blog?” he asked. I told him no. I said I would probably just ask him about his dog. After all, the President is the President, and he deserves respect.
Yet, my Dad’s words made me re-consider my editorial position. For example, it was unsavory for me (or anyone) to suggest that the President and his Vice-President were engaged in sexual congress together. I toned it down, electing to blast the President’s policies rather than the President himself.
We were all guilty – discounting those like my colleague who loved George W. Bush. Newsweek often ran editorial cartoons that likened Mr. Bush to a monkey. Late night talk show hosts challenged Mr. Bush’s intelligence every evening. We openly took delight when Mr. Bush tangled his words or choked on a pretzel.
Perhaps Conservatives are merely meting out their terrible revenge. And in their exuberance, they have taken it too far. For the sake of Pete, we’re demanding that the President produce a birth certificate? What next? A photo ID? For the love of St. Luke we’re brazenly calling the leader of the free world a liar before an audience of millions. Other countries are taking notice.
When Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi threw his shoes at President George Bush, I was appalled. I was insulted. You don’t chuck footwear at my President, asshole. And while I noted that al-Zeidi’s action was an expression of rancor that the Iraq War had afforded the people of Iraq, I also advocated that Mr. al-Zeidi receive the full harsh measure of the law.
You show respect to the President of the United States of America, bub.
The Presidential™ brand has taken a hit. Some will blame President Bill Clinton. More will blame President George W. Bush. Some might go so far as to finger President William Taft. Regardless, it is President Barack Obama who bears the slings and arrows of what has become a Nation that no longer respects the Oval Office.
We can only hope that leadership and decency restores luster to what was once a treasured brand.
* Excluding the FOX viewing audience, of course. Apparently, health care isn’t a big issue when stacked against the premiere of Glee.