I recall learning about the presidents in school and being awed by the office and its history but I think something fundamentally changed in 1992 with Bill Clinton. If it wasn’t quite the end of history it was somehow the end of the presidency as we know it; even bothering to record the history now seems sort of quaint, as if we’re assigning more importance to them than is due. They are more or less just random people plucked out of obscurity, like American Idol singers. It doesn’t help, perhaps, that their supporting cast of Congressmen and women have been like bad contestants on “The Gong Show”.
Now the office looks small, the grandeur non-existent. Clinton was smart of course, but also a sexual predator who seemed more interested in himself than America. Then we had a lightweight George W. Bush who got high on his own supply of utopianism, followed by “an elite dude found randomly on the street” in Obama (his claim to fame having been not swallowing the Bush drug of utopianism on Iraq), followed by the ever cartoonish Trump, and now finally (appropriately?) the Weekend at Bernie’s president.
Perhaps for everyone this is true, that you grow up esteeming leaders until you find they have feet of clay. Certainly the reverence for JFK and respect for LBJ fell off a cliff by the ‘70s. LBJ seemed like something of a vulgarian and JFK had his appetites.