The impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton in 1999 was certainly a rare event in American history; so rare, in fact, that no living American had ever witnessed a previous impeachment of a President of the United States. Indeed, impeachment was meant to be a rare constitutional and political event, reserved for the most extreme of offenses by a President against the constitutional order.
According to polling data during the impeachment process, however, most Americans did not consider the offenses by President Clinton to be that grave. The affair with Monica Lewinsky, most Americans seemed to think, was more a personal than a public matter. The Republicans in the House of Representatives who pursued impeachment were themselves perceived widely as extremists who were making their personal contempt for President Clinton a public issue, thereby seriously misusing the impeachment tool. As the process proceeded, observers were increasingly incredulous about the impeachment strategy and how far it was proceeding.