|About the Book|
Why did congressional Republicans obsessively pursue the impeachment of President Bill Clinton when the 1998 midterm elections and public opinion polls suggested that the majority of Americans opposed it? Some claimed indignation over perjury, othersMoreWhy did congressional Republicans obsessively pursue the impeachment of President Bill Clinton when the 1998 midterm elections and public opinion polls suggested that the majority of Americans opposed it? Some claimed indignation over perjury, others outrage over immorality. But as Nicol Rae and Colton Campbell show, the driving force behind the impeachment was nothing less than the intensifying partisanship of American politics.Impeaching Clinton offers a fascinating case study of how the American political system operated during the 1990s and of the critical factors underpinning the political process. It particularly examines the congressional aspect of the drama to show that the Lewinsky affair was simply a trigger--that the context for impeachment had been set over the course of two decades of partisan warfare.Drawing on new interviews with six of the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee in 1998, Rae and Campbell reexamine why the House Republicans acted in defiance of electoral rationality on the impeachment issue, demonstrating that they took their cues from the voting party faithful rather than from the nations centrist citizenry. The authors unravel the web of partisan politics to reveal how the pattern of events was determined, from the decision to open an impeachment inquiry to the eventual acquittal of the president.Rae and Campbell also look at the Judiciary Committee proceedings from the perspective of the Democratic minority, who helped shape media coverage and public opinion and the eventual Senate outcome. They show how the Senate was able to bring closure to this highly polarizing proceeding.Overdramatized by the media, the Clinton impeachment process was nevertheless the most extreme manifestation of partisan warfare in our time. The authors special contribution here is to greatly expand our understanding not only of a particular constitutional crisis but also of a dynamic that still prevails in congressional politics today.