President Bill Clinton was our 42nd President who had one fatal flaw - he had many extra-marital affairs. During his time in office he took up with a young intern Monica Lewinsky, then lied about it to the American people. Did he deserve to be impeached for an affair? What about the Congressmen who accused him?
President Bill Clinton is remembered as the man who beat George Bush in 1992, presided over a booming economy in the 1990s, and nearly was impeached and removed from office in 1998. The documents for impeachment no doubt spelled out their many reasons but it came down to Clinton having an affair with a young intern in the White House named Monica Lewinsky.
The story of Bill Clinton getting caught literally with his pants down is one that is stranger than fiction. A few times in the collection I've used the term "you can't make this stuff up" and this is one of them. Bill Clinton was a known womanizer his entire political life. As the 1992 presidential campaign heated up, so did the story of Paula Jones, a woman who accused Clinton of sexual harassment and who brought a lawsuit against Clinton that dogged him throughout his presidency. Then there was Kathleen Willey who accused Clinton of groping her sexually in a private meeting while he was President. Clinton's enemies tried their best to use these womanizing stories to bring him down but somehow he got elected in 1992 and re-elected in 1996 rather easily. Perhaps private affairs of a man who is President simply don't matter to the public if he's doing a good job as President.
Clinton's affair with 25 year old intern Monica Lewinsky began in 1995 and continued on and off through 1997. Did they actually have sex in the oval office? Does it matter? It was an extra-marital affair right in the White House. It would have remained secret from the American public had it not been for the special prosecutor Kenneth Starr who was spending millions of taxpayer money trying to find dirt from Whitewater, a real-estate deal gone bad way back in Clinton's past. Enter Linda Tripp, who hated Clinton, knew about the Lewinsky affair, and wanted nothing more than to bring Clinton down. She managed to befriend Monica Lewinsky and get her to admit details of the Clinton affair while wearing a wire. Soon the Whitewater investigation which was going nowhere turned into an investigation of Clinton's affair with Lewinsky. Unbelievably, Monica Lewinsky took Linda Tripp's advice and saved the semen stains on a dress she wore, which became hard evidence for the affair.
News of Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky first broke in January, 1998. Once public, it was all anyone could talk about. Late night comedy had a field day with the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, as did the internet which was just starting to heat up as part of our regular lives in 1998. I recall visiting a site call firstpenis.com as one of the many sites lampooning the President (of course firstpenis.com is now a porn site!). Politicians of all stripes weighed in. How could our President have an affair right in the White House? How could Hillary tolerate such a womanizer? The President, unbelievably, denied the whole thing in a press conference standing next to Hillary on January 26.
Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech. And I worked on it until pretty late last night. But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you.
Long story short, Congress impeached Clinton on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. They could not impeach on the charge of having an affair but to the public that's how it appeared. 80% of the public was against impeachment as they simply did not see his crimes as worthy of impeachment. The Senate voted down removing Clinton from office with a few Republicans and all of the Democrats voting against. Clinton survived and served out the rest of his term.
Bill Clinton in the end served 2 terms as President. He presided over a booming economy and he as very effective at moving his policy program forward through a divided Congress. There's no question his power was diminished and his presidency was tarnished by the affair. He is now a very effective communicator and campaigner for his wife Hillary and has used his status as a former President for many altruistic causes through the Clinton Foundation.