Defending the American Presidency: Clinton and the Lewinsky Scandal

Defending the American Presidency: Clinton and the Lewinsky Scandal

Defending the American Presidency: Clinton and the Lewinsky Scandal

Defending the American Presidency: Clinton and the Lewinsky Scandal

Synopsis

The Monica Lewinsky scandal challenged President Clinton's political credibility. Robert Busby identifies and analyzes the damage limitation strategies adopted by the Clinton administration to contend with the Lewinsky scandal, and explains how and why Clinton survived the most serious Constitutional crisis since Watergate.

Excerpt

The presidency of William Jefferson Clinton was blighted by accusation of scandal, personal indiscretion, and inappropriate private conduct. For all the President's public achievements, it appears likely that Clinton's presidential legacy will be forever tarnished by scandal. Whether Clinton deserves a place in infamy alongside Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon as only the third President to face impeachment proceedings is debatable, each episode set against different contextual circumstances. Nevertheless, the mere fact that Clinton faced proceedings testifies to contemporaneous perceptions of high crimes and misdemeanors during his time in office. The fallout from scandal has left an indelible mark upon his personal legacy, and also influenced the wider development of the presidency as an institution. Clinton's experiences in dealing with the Monica Lewinsky scandal were, however, far from exceptional or unique. Several Presidents had previously faced muted allegations of sexual indiscretion or had been subjected to subtle insinuations about their private lives. Similarly, Presidents in the late twentieth century have faced allegation of political scandal, all, barring Richard Nixon, having survived the experience. That said, the Lewinsky affair, as much as it reflected past episodes, was very much a Clinton scandal. It involved sexual matters, contained intrigue and allegations of conspiracy, and, when concluded, left President Clinton's job approval figures virtually untouched. On the surface, at least, it appeared that Clinton had assumed the Teflon reputation of Ronald Reagan.

Bill Clinton won two presidential elections, in 1992 and 1996. He was the first Democrat to successfully compete in a re-election campaign since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, and in 1992, campaigning on a pledge of reform he convincingly fended off a third party candidate.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.