My mother would have turned 100 this year. She went to high school during the Depression, and was a young wife during World War 2. She had to raise smartass kids during the 1960s; that must have been toughest of all..

Like so many families, we were affected by the news and the polarization of side back then. She was “My country, right or wrong,” I was “Nix on Nixon” and “Never trust anyone over 30.”

We managed, both of us, to survive and learn.

So years later, I was at Mom’s house when Richard Nixon was mentioned on the news for something, a few years before his death in 1994. “I can never forgive that man!”

Her outburst took me by surprise. “Why, what has he done now?”

“It’s what he did!” She didn’t look at me. She focused her eyes on the TV screen, even though the news had moved on and the sound was muted.”You will never know – young people will never know –  what it’s like to trust your president.

“When Roosevelt had to send men to war, we knew he was doing the right thing. We knew he was doing what he had to, to protect our country. You trusted the president to do that. You will never know what it means to trust the president like that.

“Nixon ruined it all.”

I knew she was right then, and 25 years later, experience has validated her point. No one has trusted a president since Nixon, have they? Well, maybe Reagan. I am consistently amazed at the reverence in which Ronald Reagan is held. I feel that way about Obama, so there’s two … out of eight.  The other six we mostly judged dishonest, inept, or dumb, often suspected of being crooked themselves or the hand puppet of more sinister power brokers.

And now, gravitas and decorum and whatever was left of respect for the presidency, is gone. The Oval Office is home to a circus barker, and that’s the nicest term I can apply. It’s too nice, actually; it doesn’t convey the bullying, the selfishness, the total disregard for truth, ethics, and appearance. There is no presentation of the current occupant as a protector or a judicious, wise leader. He’s the president, right? Means he’s king of the hill, has the most marbles, and can do what he wants, even call names like a 12-year-old. And I think that’s all it means to him.