Tricky dick and slick willy: Despised presidents and generational imprinting

Gary Alan Fine, Emily Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Although American politics depends on partisan rivalry, typically partisans are able to distinguish dislike for a president's policies and politics from hatred for the individual. Yet some presidents provoke unabashed antipathy that cannot be explained merely by policy differences within a partisan arena. How do these powerful emotions arise? To explain this animus, we argue that it is not their actions while president but the way that the despised president comes to typify issues of the period in which a previous political generation was imprinted. Presidential hatred is involved in generational politics and is grounded in the cultural past rather than the political present. We argue that the controversial reputations of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were grounded in debates over American politics of the late 1940s and the late 1960s. In the case of Nixon and Clinton, we suggest that hatred facilitates scandal rather than scandal causing hatred.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-565+443
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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