Sometimes, some important details of the day’s news aren’t in what was said but what wasn’t. Often, words left out speak louder than those heard. These thoughts seem especially true when reading or hearing stories regarding President Obama.

Yes, PRESIDENT Obama. Despite personal – rather than political – utterances by those opposed to him, and sloppy journalistic practices to the contrary, the man is PRESIDENT Obama.

It’s not the man we’re talking about here. It’s the Office of the Presidency. Not the large oval room any president spends a lot of time in. That’s just an office. No, I mean the position as head of state. The institution we were all brought up to respect. The one that, since President Obama has occupied it, has been vilified by members of Congress and been reduced to chatty references in what passes for news coverage of the Office of the President.

When I was a member of the national press, Richard Nixon had the temporary honor of being president. From his days as a California congressman to his eventual banishment from public office, I disliked the man. Disliked, distrusted and felt revulsion when in his presence. He represented to me, personally, a career politician with no scruples, marked race and religious intolerance, a pathologic need for power and a willingness to do or say anything that would give him more of it. A treacherous bastard. History has confirmed my gut.

During that part of my life, I found myself in his presence on a number of occasions. To say those personal feelings were not in my mind at those times would be untrue. They were. But so was something else: the power, prestige and reach of the Office of the President. And the respect I had been taught early and often for all that represented. Richard Nixon be damned. The office to which he had been elected was the important thing. I behaved accordingly.

That sense of respect for the office from all citizens of this country has been eroded in recent years. Some will say we’re a more informal nation with less use for protocol and institutions; a contemporary style of “relating” to each other in a more “personal” way. Road Apples!!! These days, such informal “relating” is when a kid in a fast food joint – with an earring in his nose and blue hair – ignores my 70+ years with “Whadya you guys want?”

Members of Congress, especially, have attacked the power of the presidency more in the last 36 months than I’ve seen during the terms of 11 predecessors. Often, just little things. Like the recent effort to revoke the powers of the president to create national monuments on federal lands. Something all presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have done without question. But, no, we can’t let our current president continue the tradition.

Sometimes, larger. Like shouting out “Liar” during an internationally televised presidential appearance before a joint session of Congress and being proud of yourself. Or calling a press conference to announce you won’t attend such an event because you don’t want to “dignify it” with your presence. So whose “dignity” is affected?

Sometimes, even larger. Like proclaiming on national television “our main goal is to make Obama a one-term president” as the Senate Majority leader has done repeatedly. Your aides telling the media you’re not going to vote for anything to improve national job creation because “we don’t want to give Obama a victory.” So who loses? How many million?

Is there some racism in these direct confrontations with the President? Possibly. He’s often referred to as “our first Black president.” Not really true. The fact is, he’s half white which makes him our first president of mixed race. Maybe.

Racism is often too subtle to prove. I certainly can’t here. But the number of attacks on the powers of just this president – the types of efforts to limit just this president’s abilities to act – the in-your-face and very public disrespect by some of our elected “representatives” when dealing with just this president – the attempt to blame just this president personally for everything from zits to the absence of world peace – the blatantly racist depictions of just this president circling the Internet by the hundreds of millions – much of this IS new. And the man is our first mixed race president. Connection? Who can say?

But I really wish every American – every one – could stand in the Oval Office. Even when no one else is there. I wish each one could feel the solemnity and the sense of real power, stand where many hundreds of world leaders have stood and world-changing decisions have been made, experience the awesome silence of being separated from the world, be fully aware of the weight of the trust placed in any occupant of this often lonely place, look at that huge desk and understand the person who sits behind it has been handed the highest honor and responsibilities we give as a nation.

When you’ve done that – and I’ve done that – you will walk back into life with renewed respect for the Office of the President. You may still harbor your individual feelings about any temporary occupant. You may still be committed to replacing him/her with a new face for whatever reason.

But you will never look at the presidency the same way again. The experience ought to be required for each American. Especially just before we vote.

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