Defending the American Presidency: Clinton and the Lewinsky Scandal

By Robert Busby | Go to book overview

1
The Clinton Scandal Epidemic

The Lewinsky scandal, exposed to the American public in January 1998, was by no means the first scandal to be faced by President Clinton or his administration. Time and again, when a Governor and when President of the United States, Clinton had faced investigation into his public and private behavior. Many scandal allegations centered on a narrow framework of issues: a number of questionable investments in a land development corporation and, thereafter, a plethora of sexual allegations from a variety of women across several years. Clinton's experience of having to face accusations of wrongdoing, and of waging politics by other means, both reflected and enhanced the prominence of the scandal industry in modern American politics. A combination of institutional factors, partisanship, media interest and the desire of some individuals to gain publicity helped to promote scandal as a mainstay of American political life. During the 1990s, the President had no choice but to deal with an onslaught of allegations about his activity, and spin control was, as such, a necessary and familiar part of the presidential public relations machine.

There was more to Clinton's experience of scandal than commonplace accusations of presidential wrongdoing. This President, like no other, faced a constant barrage of questions about his past, his personal life, his relationships and his private dealings. Some, such as Richard Nixon, had faced inquiries about personal financial matters, and others, like Kennedy, had endured whispered suggestions about illicit affairs. However, no President had openly faced hostile and publicized allegations of wrongdoing to such a marked degree about activity that was not a central part of their political mandate. Clinton's personal and private affairs seemed to dominate the political forum as much as his political activity and his legislative program. The Lewinsky affair,

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Defending the American Presidency: Clinton and the Lewinsky Scandal
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables and Exhibits vi
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Clinton Scandal Epidemic 15
  • 2 - The Lewinsky Affair 46
  • 3 - Protecting the President: Damage Limitation and the Lewinsky Scandal 70
  • 4 - The Starr Investigation 117
  • 5 - Impeachment and Trial 137
  • 6 - The Media: Intrigue and Revulsion 170
  • 7 - Public Opinion: Reluctant Observers 187
  • Conclusion 215
  • Notes 224
  • Index 248
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