How much respect should any President/politician get?

The whole Joe Wilson thing has brought on this question in a few circles I’ve read, especially amongst libertarians (and, in this case, their commenters), who have little respect for politicians in general to begin with.

It’s been brought up before with such books as Cult of the Presidency, and it’s certainly been brought up in debates about the treatment of Bush versus that of Obama; the sense that “why SHOULDN’T we be able to call out the President [or politicians in general] on their lies? Why should we respect blatant attempts to deceive us?”

I have to say I’m torn on this whole thing. Is such respect for the President a relatively recent cultural phenomenon? Is it undeserved? Should we treat any President any differently than any random Congressman or state-level pol (and that question counts both ways it could be read)?

They should get as much respect as they earn through their actions and no more. Nobody deserves respect just for occupying an office.

The president and congressmen are only human, and deserve whatever respect is accorded to a generic human until they such time as they earn more or lose what they already had.

It depends on what party you are and what party the President is.

We’re going through a historical period where the President has more power than Congress. Those periods vary. There have also been periods when Congress has had the upper hand. There are perfectly good Constitutional reasons for these swings to occur.

That said, there are perfectly good reasons why a Congressman should not call the President, or another Congressman, a liar from the floor.

It is possible to disrespect a politician while respecting his office. That is why I wouldn’t have thrown a shoe at Bush the president, although I would have been tempted to do so if he wasn’t in his presidential role. Fine distinction perhaps, but an important one, I think. Joe Wilson would have avoided an awful lot of opprobrium had he apologized. He disrespected Obama acting in his official capacity.

They should be judged on how much respect they deserve to the same extent as everyone else; that is to say that they shouldn’t garner any more respect either for holding that role (earning it, perhaps) nor as part of respect for the position itself.

Yeah, one could, but why on earth would anyone want to?

Politicians aren’t your friends.

Obama is president of the USA. Get over it. Respect the office . Acting like petulant children is unbecoming. When the prez gives the State of the Union Speech, the House and Senate give a several minute standing ovation. I suppose if Wilson and a few others yelled ‘Liar’ ,some of you would root. Wilson was ignorant of protocol. He is an ass.

So . . . the general consensus of this thread, once a person has achieved–correction: been chosen by the people of this country for–the office of the President of the United States, he has to start at the bottom as far as earning respect? That he might as well be any randomly chosen mook who still has to prove himself somehow?


Devil’s advocate: Yes, unless you’re arguing that promising stuff during an election is exactly the same as fulfilling those promises, and that potential is exactly the same as results.

No. They would still have any respect earned via other means. And whatever respect they might have earned during the campaign. They aren’t a blank slate; they’re the result of who they are and what their actions up until that point have been. But that’s all they are. There should be no respect simply for the office of President.

Joe Wilson shouted out an accusation (baseless in my opinion) at the President in the middle of a joint session of Congress.

It’s not about calling out the President on his (perceived) lies, and it really isn’t about respect for the Presidential office in and of itself, a concept I believe has all too often been used as an excuse to stifle naysayers (remember all the yokels with the “My President, right or wrong” bumper stickers?). It’s about respecting the principles of conduct and decorum that thoughtful debate and rational discourse (what I see as the cornerstones of our representative democracy) are based upon.

But then again, the right has clearly shown it has no interest in thoughtful debate or rational discourse, when histrionics and baseless hyperbole have proven very effective in poisoning and derailing any actual debate on the healthcare issue.

There seems to be some confusion over what “respect” means. You respect the office, if not the man. That means there are certain behaviors that are considered inappropriate regardless of who holds that office. You don’t throw things at the President. You don’t heckle him or shout over him during a speech or press conference. These behaviors are considered rude, inappropriate and serve no purpose in conveying your political message. I mean can you think of a single forum where it is appropriate to do those things to a public speaker?

Even refusing to allow your children to view a speech by the President telling kids to stay in school is ridiculous and inappropriate. He is the fucking President of the USA duly elected by the people. Get over yourself.

In other words, “respect” does not mean you have to agree with him, think he is a good President or even like him. It means you don’t act like a jackass.

Surely that’s true for most people, though?

Your statements do not jibe.

I’d appreciate if you’d explain how.

Your statement seems to encompass both of these:

*They’ve earned the respect due to someone who’s gained the presidency.

They have not earned any respect simply because they’ve gained the presidency.*

To quote you more directly:

Ah, I see what you’re getting at. No, the distinction i’m trying to draw is between actions taken, which certainly will include those taken in the process of becoming President, and the actual holding of the office itself (or the office itself seperately). A President shouldn’t be accorded respect simply for being the President; earning it, perhaps, but not for being it.

Edit: Think of it as winning a trophy at a sporting competition. You shouldn’t get respect simply for owning the trophy, but rather, for the excellence of your performance, or the quality of the other players you defeated. After all, you might have just got lucky, or the other players were all terrible. Likewise, simply being President shouldn’t be accorded any greater respect, nor should the office itself.

You are incorrect, his (and my) position is that they’ve earned the respect due to someone who has done what they have done. They don’t get any more respect just because they’ve convinced the mob that they suck less than the other guy.