Sunday, March 8, 2009

President Clinton impeached

Almost 11 years ago, the world was shocked to discover that President Bill Clinton had been impeached on charges of lying to a federal grand jury regarding alleged sexual relations with former White House intern, Monica Lewinksy. The Boston Globe and The Washington Post provide good coverage of the impeachment procedures, though The Globe’s article reads with a play-by-play form of commentary. The only negative to that approach is the disinterest readers might express in having to read the information that way. Although Clinton is the center of attention, both stories shift gears to address the debates that arose regarding the decisions to impeach him as well as the issue of public opinion.

Some of the key debates addressed were the issues of truth, justice, and the influence of private and public acts regarding impeachment decisions. Both stories contain an equal amount of balance with regards to peoples’ opinions. Interestingly, they’re presented in a debate-like manner. For example, Henry J. Hyde, an Illinois Republican, stated that “the government, the Congress, has no business intruding into private acts”[1] Then, readers are presented a comment from an unidentified congressman who considers Clinton’s legacy “‘indelibly stained.’” [2] Through this manner, readers receive a good guy/bad guy scenario.

An interesting aspect in both articles is the emphasis placed on the hostility that resulted from the debates and how it was tearing the House of Representatives apart. This led Martin T. Meehan, a Lowell Democrat, to ask “‘What kind of institution are we becoming?’”[3] Bob Hohler of The Globe uses this quote to demonstrate just how impactful Clinton’s impeachment was, not just to those living in the United States, but to those in Congress as well. Take Robert L. Livingston, for example. Convinced that he “must set the example that I hope President Clinton will follow,”[4] he resigned his position as Senate-designate. Referring back to Hyde’s comment, while no reference was made regarding a friendship between he and Clinton, his comment expresses the shock that others felt when they came to realize that Bill Clinton, who seemed like a genuine guy, was facing such charges.

This past January, Rod R. Blagojevich, governor of Illinois, began facing his impeachment trial on charges of attempting to receive financial gain from trading the United States Senate seat relinquished by President Obama. In comparing the coverage of his case with Clinton’s, the issue of who can you trust with regards to politics emerges. Both men were criticized for their dishonesty to their respected positions of power. In fact, one person stated that if Clinton’s actions weren’t met with justice, then “justice is wounded, and you’re wounded, and your children are wounded.”[5] Once again, a good guy/bad guy scenario is presented.

What’s interesting in both stories is the lack of comments from President Clinton, though he didn’t like the press, and his wife, Hillary. As stated in my Babe Ruth blog, it would have been interesting to hear what she had to say regarding her husband’s impeachment. With that said, we should all hope that no such controversy falls upon President Obama.

[1] Murray, Frank J. “IMPEACHED: Clinton ‘indelibly stained’ in a decisive vote; 2 out of 4 articles approved by the House.” The Washington Times. Dec. 20, 1998. pp. A1.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Hohler, Bob. “Clinton is impeached House approves 2 of 4 charges, paving the way for Senate trial;” The Boston Globe. Dec. 20, 1998. pp. A1.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.

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