Aftermath: The Clinton Impeachment and the Presidency in the Age of Political Spectacle

Aftermath: The Clinton Impeachment and the Presidency in the Age of Political Spectacle

Aftermath: The Clinton Impeachment and the Presidency in the Age of Political Spectacle

Aftermath: The Clinton Impeachment and the Presidency in the Age of Political Spectacle


Winners and losers. Success and failure. Victory and defeat. American culture places an extremely high premium on success, and firmly equates it with winning. In politics, sports, business, and the courtroom, we have a passion to win and are terrified of losing.

Instead of viewing success and failure through such a rigid lens, Jules Lobel suggests that we move past the winner-take-all model and learn valuable lessons from legal and political activists who have advocated causes destined to lose in court but have had important, progressive long term effects on American society. He leads us through dramatic battles in American legal history, describing attempts by abolitionist lawyers to free fugitive slaves through the courts, Susan B. Anthony's trial for voting illegally, the post-Civil War challenges to segregation that resulted in the courts' affirmation of the separate but equal doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson, and Lobel's own challenges to United States foreign policy during the 1980s and 1990s.

Success Without Victory explores the political, social, and psychological contexts behind the cases themselves, as well as the eras from which they originated and the eras they subsequently influenced.


At the time, it seemed that 1998 would never end. On January 21, when most of us were still keeping our New Year's resolutions, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr announced an investigation of President Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice. The Counsel's suspicions stemmed from a pending action by Paula Jones, a former State of Arkansas employee, charging the then Governor of Arkansas with sexual harassment. In December 1997, as part of that suit, Jones's lawyers issued a subpoena to Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern and sometime FOB (Friend of Bill). That subpoena was based on knowledge obtained from Linda Tripp, another government worker, that Lewinsky and Clinton had conducted an affair in the White House and that Lewinsky had implored Tripp to deny that affair under oath. Both Lewinsky and Clinton denied any sexual relationship, he in a deposition and she in an affidavit. They also denied engaging in obstruction of justice despite the President's attempts to find Miss Lewinsky a job and her own discussions with Linda Tripp. Thus, we spent a full year on the definition of sexual relations and the meaning of truth.

Even now it is hard to remember how these events and those that followed galvanized the American people. Either we tried to hide in disgust or we stayed riveted awaiting further installments. Each day brought new revelations both of facts and strategies. Until August 1998, the President offered complete denials combined with a series of legal maneuvers meant to derail the investigation. But when DNA evidence forced his hand, the President made a sort of public confession after first testifying before a grand jury on his definition of β€œis.”

For eight months, political pundits opined that a proven affair combined . . .

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