In the preface to his book, The Presidency of George Washington, the late Forrest McDonald offers a moving and thought-provoking assessment of the presidency that I keep turning over in my mind. He writes, "there is more to the institution of the presidency than what any particular president does: there is a symbolic, ritualistic, almost mystical quality that inheres in the office as well..."
I can't help wondering if this is still the case. McDonald was writing in the early 1970s--the era of Vietnam, LBJ, riots, Nixon. So it was not exactly the days of the Kennedy's and Camelot. And it feels, in a sense, that we are in a similar low point; where presidential norms are being discarded on a daily basis.
So is McDonald's quote still applicable? Will it survive the Trump era? And, perhaps more importantly, do we want it to survive? Is it in our interest for the presidency to have this mystical quality?