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Institute for Policy Studies

Report Info

  • Released May 21, 2008
Paths for Reconstruction in the 21st Century » Report

Presidential Disrespect

A skeptical and adoring citizenry faces its Presidents

Citizens are prone to stand up when the President enters a room. They may even put on their suit jackets when the president phones, as distinguished historian Arthur Schlesinger did when President Kennedy called. However, since the beginning of the Republic, Americans have made clear to their Presidents that they should not expect respect. This despite the best presidential efforts; when President Nixon sought to foster an imperial aura about himself with an honor guard dressed in uniforms reminiscent of Kaiser Wilhelm's escort, there was such an outcry of laughter, derision and disbelief that he quickly withdrew his clumsy attempt.

Presidential Disrespect profiles the political life and presidency of John Quincy Adams, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Within each profile you will find quotes from colleagues, press and ordinary citizenry disrespecting the presidents. The profiles also contain information about the elections that each president faced which in some ways parallel this year's political races.