BBC Claims Americans Think of Presidents as Demigods

I’m really struggling to get through a BBC article called “Who truly was the most dishonest president?”

This section in particular is really hard to read.

Once upon a time Americans placed an almost childlike trust in their commanders-in-chief. They were venerated as demigods. When did it change? Many historians date this rupture to Lyndon Baines Johnson, though he was far from the first president to deceive.

That seems so backwards as to be completely laughable. Which historians?

To begin with, LBJ became president when JFK was assassinated.

Would assassination count as a rupture? I mean saying public change in trust dates to LBJ as president kind of misses at least one big prior rupture event, no?

I would think JFK immediately disproves such a theory of American public rupture and distrust dating to LBJ. And on that note there were assassinations and attempted assassinations long before JFK.

Consider the 1881 assassination of Garfield, for just one obvious example:

Like most presidents up to that point, he was not accompanied by bodyguards or a security detail. As Garfield’s carriage pulled up outside the Baltimore and Potomac, Charles Guiteau paced the waiting room inside, ready to fulfill what he believed was a mission from God. […] In his pocket Guiteau carried a letter addressed to the White House. “The president’s tragic death was a sad necessity,” it read, “but it will unite the Republican Party and save the Republic. Life is a fleeting dream, and it matters little when one goes.”

The whole point of the American system used to be that President would be a citizen and not someone “venerated as demigods” or dare I say someone… monarchical.

Garfield literally ran for office on the premise of being a plain farmer who would roll his sleeves up to cut the “weeds” of “calumny, falsehood, fraud, venom, hatred, defamation and malice”.

“Farmer Garfield: Cutting a swath to the White House” 1880. Source: Library of Congress

The bar is low to become a President, with many running on the premise of being common, so on what basis would anyone mistakenly shift that in their mind to a high one?

Who was venerated? Who was given childlike trust?

The author should perhaps prove these assertions, or at least detail them, first before ironically waxing on about deception.

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