Ann Althouse has an interesting thread going on this topic, to which I posted the following comment:
There was a lot about Clinton to hate. He was routinely dishonest, personally corrupt and treated political opponents (e.g., gun owners, small-business people) as class enemies. He had a history of abusing individuals, both to advance his political goals and to avoid responsibility for his reckless personal behavior, and he showed indifference toward civil liberties. His intellectual MO was to avoid open discussion of issues and instead to make personal attacks on his critics. He appeared to value his personal interests over the good of the country. He got some things right (NAFTA, part of our intervention against Serbia), but squandered much of his early presidency trying to implement unpopular far-left schemes and his later presidency in dealing with the fallout from his personal behavior. And he was asleep at the wheel WRT the threat of Islamic fundamentalism. But for the Left and many Democrats, Clinton was and remains the great hope, because despite his flaws he was the national Democrat who could best compete with the Republicans.
Bush II is a mixed bag. IMO the people who liked Clinton hate W because W is effective in countering their political agenda. If W were a leftist Democrat and had the same political skills as he has now, they would love him. The accusations against W for having supposed personal flaws are therefore really coded political disagreements. That’s a different pattern of hatred from the one shown to Clinton, as many of Clinton’s haters would have accepted his policies if he weren’t such a scoundrel. The Bush haters and Clinton haters appear to be distinct populations with different values.
I think that Nixon haters share some of the values of both Clinton and Bush haters, since a lot of people disliked Nixon’s corruption as well as his policies. But other presidents, notably LBJ, were at least as corrupt as Nixon, so on balance I think it’s the policy disagreements that principally animate Nixon haters to this day. Nixon was a staunch anti-communist from the time of the Hiss prosecution, for which the Left will never forgive him. And the Right’s concerns about communist imperialism were vindicated by the SE Asian bloodbath after our withdrawal from Vietnam (mainly on Nixon’s watch, though he rarely receives credit), and the Left doesn’t like to be reminded about this outcome.
I was too young to be a Nixon hater, though I might have been one if I had been older. But in retrospect Nixon, though a lousy president in many ways (e.g., wage & price controls!), was better than most of the realistic alternatives. Certainly he had the country’s best interests at heart, and unlike some of his successors, particularly Clinton, he had a realistic idea about what we were up against in the world. I think that’s a large part of why the Left still hates Nixon with such vehemence.
Ann’s post and the other comments to it are worth reading.