Donald Trump is not the first president to have been hated by a large segment of the American people. Far from it.
Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and many other presidents were hated by a large swath of the voting public when in office.
Franklin Roosevelt was well and truly hated by a great many, especially before World War II. He overcame with charm, and grace and willpower.
And, he didn't get bogged down.
Ronald Reagan, whose youthful hero was Roosevelt, did the same. Reagan was despised and demeaned by much of the chattering class and certainly all of the left. But he knew his own mind and had great instincts, one of the best of which was to not get enmeshed in petty and personal conflicts.
And, like FDR, he used humor and grace to overcome.
Richard Nixon was deeply reviled by many, many Americans. There was nothing he could do, even on singular occasions — detente with Russia; the opening to China — to earn even grudging praise.
Nixon did not overcome the hate. He hated back. And he sunk into a reservoir of personal darkness and paranoia. The Nixon haters said that they were vindicated when Nixon's presidency and Nixon himself fell apart: This is the guy we knew he was all along, they said.
But others wondered if the hate had changed Nixon. With fewer enemies, might he have gotten to be a better man instead of a worse one?
One cannot help but wonder about Trump: If he had been given a chance, would he have gotten better instead of worse?
A chance. To his followers, the vast majority of whom are peaceful and law abiding, Trump was never given a chance to govern. The deep state and the major pillars of the political culture, including most of the press, went to work on sinking the Trump presidency from the day of his election.
Of course, as with Nixon, many Trump haters, including Never Trump Republicans, will say: We were right all along. The character flaws and ignorance of our system and its norms, written and unwritten, were there for all to see.
The question now is whether Joe Biden will be given a chance.
Will the Republicans say, as Mitch McConnell did of Barack Obama: Let's focus on the undoing. Let's sabotage everything he does and make sure we win the midterms and hold this guy to one term.
Will they engage in payback? If Trump was illegitimate and impeachable even before Day One in office, why not the same for Biden?
A chance, for the other guy, has always been a hard sell. Liberals were appalled when one of their icons, Sen. Eugene McCarthy, said in early 1969, "We have to give Nixon a chance, don't we?"
And they were livid when Kennedy egghead Pat Moynihan joined Nixon's administration. He was called many names, and only grudgingly and gradually let back into the good graces of the Democratic Party — because a lot of New Yorkers wanted to vote for him.
But, yes, I think Republicans and Trump supporters should give Joe Biden what their guy didn't get — a chance to govern; a chance to succeed.
They should do this because that's who we want to be as a people and polity and that's what America needs right now.
It does not mean Trumpers should be silenced or lose their free speech. But it does mean that some goodwill and cooperation on a few things (public health, infrastructure) would do the body politic great good.
I personally think that, in a weird way, Trump, by fomenting a violent riot and attack on Congress and the Capitol and so discrediting himself and his party, did Biden a favor. He gave traditional Republicans, like Rob Portman, Mitt Romney, Pat Toomey, and Liz Cheney, and maybe even McConnell, a reason, and perhaps a path, for moving forward together — for the country.
I look at Joe Biden and see a person who, having lived through many defeats, personal and political, and many battles, and many personal attacks, became a better man. Adversity has so far worked on him in the opposite way that it worked on Nixon and Trump.
That's a blessing for the nation. We ought to take advantage of it.
Now President Biden will face another great series of trials and a great number of angry and blind adversaries chanting "resist."
Nixon had a famous and long enemies list. Trump has a list that is longer, and constantly amended. Joe Biden has no such list.
That, too, is a blessing.
We ought to give him a chance.