Human beings have a natural tendency to edit memories, tending to cut out the unpleasant ones. We prefer to remember the sunny days, not the stormy ones. (Hence the constant refrain of “Today’s blizzard is the worst—ever.”) That’s just as true of politics as anything else.
The truth is that American political rhetoric has always been vigorous and often vituperative. Over 60 years ago Harry Truman offered his famous admonition to get out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat. Lyndon Johnson, in the sad later years of his presidency, was regularly hanged in effigy (as was Sarah Palin in the 2008 presidential campaign, by the way.) “Hey, hey, LBJ! How many kids have you killed today?” was shouted by demonstrators wherever he went. Johnson complained about the press that, “If I walked on water, the headline the next day would be ‘President Can’t Swim.'” John Steele Gordon – Wall Street Journal