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Author Topic: Clinton's approval ratings during Lewinsky  (Read 2239 times)
old timey villain
cope1989
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« on: February 21, 2012, 10:46:16 pm »
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I'm watching the PBS American Experience documentary on Bill Clinton, which is amazing by the way, and I just heard Trent Lott make a good point. He said that to this day, he never understood how Clinton's approval ratings stayed so strong during the Lewinsky scandal, and even more baffling, how the Democrats managed to win seats in the 1998 midterms

I love Clinton, but I'm with Lott on this one. It's beyond bizarre to me that Clinton's approval ratings actually PEAKED during the scandal. I've certainly heard some convincing explanations, but I'd still like to know some of your thoughts on this. So, what's your take?
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Emperor Scott
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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2012, 11:04:20 pm »
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Just finished watching that.

I think it's because the Americans were more disgusted with the Congressional Republicans' efforts to throw him out of office than the scandal itself.  They didn't like the dishonesty, but they also didn't like the way Ken Starr carried out his investigations.
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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2012, 11:44:05 pm »
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I've always thought that the Clinton impeachment pointed up one of the few, if not the only, weak point in the Constitution.  Why were the Founding Fathers so vague about what constitutes grounds for impeachment?  "High crimes and misdemeanors"?  This can mean whatever a president's political opponents want it to mean, as we saw with the Republicans against Clinton.  To me, it seems like a glaring weakness in an otherwise incredibly well-thought out document.
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2012, 11:52:55 pm »
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About the documentary--I watched it too, and I thought it spent way too much time on the Lewinsky "scandal,"  given that we can now view Clinton's presidency from a distance of more than 10 years.  I think the ultimate verdict will be: yes, even given that he's clearly a horndog, Clinton showed poor judgment--particularly in the way he handled the legal issues arising from the relationship, both in initially giving evasive answers and in stonewalling when it became public.  However, Monica Lewinsky will not define his presidency.  I thought the program should have devoted much more time to Clinton's role in the negotiations that led to the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland, and to his strenuous (albeit unsuccessful) efforts at negotiating an agreement between Yasir Arafat and Ehud Barak in the Middle East.  I agree with a reviewer in the York Dispatch  that other important issues and themes weren't even touched on as well, such as Clinton's phenomenal popularity in the black community (to the point of being called the first black president), and the question of why exactly the Clintons--Bill and Hillary alike--were so hated by a certain segment of American society and by the Republican establishment.
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Robb the Survivor
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2012, 03:42:33 pm »
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Maybe because people care more about actual policies than irrelevant private stuff ?

(to be honest, I'm reasonably surprised too ; I actually thought people cared about irrelevant private stuff)
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22:15   ComradeSibboleth   this is all extremely terrible and in all respects absolutely fycking dire.

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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2012, 04:23:14 pm »
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AFAIK Clinton's approval went up but his personal favorability ratings were in the toilet.
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2012, 05:14:34 pm »
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Is the full documentary online anywhere? Does anyone have a link to it?
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« Reply #7 on: February 29, 2012, 10:14:28 pm »
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I don't believe they were as high as shown during those months. The questions could have been explicitly worded to only refer to his job as president regarding the state of the country.  Also, it was clear that Clinton dodged all other charges by admitting to the affair.  That made it look like Republicans were only digging into his private life rather than the rooms for sale at the white house, white water, and many other things not reported such as Oklahoma City and Waco.  Yes, I know Waco and Oklahoma City weren't specifically mentioned, but still my point is that the affair was the least of the Republicans' worries.
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2012, 10:29:00 pm »
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Because most people thought it was impressive a guy Clinton's age was still going at it so successfully.

Seriously. That had to have been a factor. It's my reaction when I hear about non-disgusting sex scandals nowadays.
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« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2012, 05:00:22 pm »
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It was probably a "rally around the flag" effect. Still kinda amusing though.
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anvi
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« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2012, 08:25:58 pm »
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Looks like the approval ratings were really quite high during the whole crisis.  I don't remember them being quite this high, but they were:

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-presapp0605-31.html

What i do clearly remember though was that the public seemed to be pretty much agreed on the fact that impeachment was an overreach in this case, and they rallied behind the guy that they overwhelmingly voted for, despite his many missteps and basic misconduct.  For once, in my view, the public was right.

Perjury in a civil case, even in matters deemed immaterial to the case itself, is certainly not conduct becoming of the president of the United States.  But abuse of Congressional impeachment powers is worse.  And, despite the arcane phrases of art like "high crimes and misdemeanors" and all the ambiguities surrounding them, the public widely intuitively understood that.
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Robb the Survivor
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2012, 06:23:40 am »
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Indeed, for once I'm actually surprised by the people's intelligence.
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22:15   ComradeSibboleth   this is all extremely terrible and in all respects absolutely fycking dire.

"A reformist is someone who realizes that, when you bang your head on a wall, it's the head that breaks rather than the wall."

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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2012, 07:49:25 pm »
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I'm watching the PBS American Experience documentary on Bill Clinton, which is amazing by the way, and I just heard Trent Lott make a good point. He said that to this day, he never understood how Clinton's approval ratings stayed so strong during the Lewinsky scandal, and even more baffling, how the Democrats managed to win seats in the 1998 midterms

He's actually baffled that the Democrats won seats in '98??? Really???

How could they not win seats???
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« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2012, 07:24:20 am »
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It shouldnt have been that big a surprise that Democrats gained House seats in 1998.  Republicans had picked up pretty much everything they possibly could have in 1994 and lost way less than they should have in 1996 do to a late breaking DNC scandal and poor Dem recruiting.  Democrats could only go up in the House.

Just like it wont be too surprising if Democrats gain seats in 2014 after gaining much less than expected in 2012. 
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The Mikado
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« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2012, 08:24:05 pm »
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People were disgusted with Clinton, but the witch hunt left the Republican Party looking absolutely ridiculous.  A bunch of old men sanctimoniously discussing using cigars as dildoes and DNA stains on dresses, followed by a string of Republicans humiliated due to their own affairs (Gingrich, Livingston, Hyde) absolutely destroyed the GOP's credibility on the issue and left them looking worse than Clinton.

...Boy, was that a trip down memory lane.  The Clinton Impeachment was the first news story I followed on a day-to-day basis.  I remember coming home from school to watch Impeachment hearings on CNN etc.  Kind of impressed with myself that I remembered the name Bob Livingston without having to go to Wikipedia.
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« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2012, 09:34:55 pm »
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People were disgusted with Clinton, but the witch hunt left the Republican Party looking absolutely ridiculous.  A bunch of old men sanctimoniously discussing using cigars as dildoes and DNA stains on dresses, followed by a string of Republicans humiliated due to their own affairs (Gingrich, Livingston, Hyde) absolutely destroyed the GOP's credibility on the issue and left them looking worse than Clinton.

^^^^^^
Along with the longest economic expansion in many decades.
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« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2012, 04:46:38 pm »
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People were disgusted with Clinton, but the witch hunt left the Republican Party looking absolutely ridiculous.  A bunch of old men sanctimoniously discussing using cigars as dildoes and DNA stains on dresses, followed by a string of Republicans humiliated due to their own affairs (Gingrich, Livingston, Hyde) absolutely destroyed the GOP's credibility on the issue and left them looking worse than Clinton.

...Boy, was that a trip down memory lane.  The Clinton Impeachment was the first news story I followed on a day-to-day basis.  I remember coming home from school to watch Impeachment hearings on CNN etc.  Kind of impressed with myself that I remembered the name Bob Livingston without having to go to Wikipedia.
Yeah Livingston was supposed to be House Speaker after Gingrich left but that all went up in smoke.
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Nym90
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« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2012, 11:55:54 pm »
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There was a backlash against the perception that the Republicans were implementing an unwarranted political vendetta against Clinton.

An interesting fact about the impeachment that I haven't really seen mentioned anywhere is that one of the two articles that passed in the House would have failed if the vote had been taken in the newly elected House as opposed to the lame duck House (well, if we assume that all of the newly elected members in 1998 would have voted the party line, anyway, which seems a safe assumption). The obstruction of justice article passed with only 221 votes, so the 5 seats the GOP lost in November would have been enough to defeat it; plus one of the Dems whose seat flipped to the GOP (Paul McHale) was a yes vote, so there would have only been 215 votes in favor.

Also, since the House voted on impeachment in the lame duck session but the Senate didn't take it up until 1999, House members who were elected to the Senate in 1998, such as Charles Schumer and Jim Bunning, got to vote on impeachment twice.
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