Clinton Impeachment Revisionism
Liberals can't tell the truth about ANYTHING.
As my assiduous readers know, I periodically have to correct the same big, fat lies told by the media. Among these are:
--California’s Proposition 187, denying welfare to illegal aliens, was a disaster for the GOP.
--Thomas Jefferson fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings.
--The Central Park rapists were innocent.
--The Willie Horton ad was racist.
With talk of impeaching President Biden in the air, the media’s fake history this week is: Voters punished Republicans for even thinking about impeaching President Bill Clinton!
Even the casual news consumer will hear this lie at least 20 times this week.
“If the inquiry does lead to an impeachment vote, history suggests it won't necessarily be helpful for the impeachers. House Republicans lost five seats in the 1998 election a few weeks before impeaching President Bill Clinton. Democrats made those surprising gains even though the party that controls the White House usually struggles in midterm elections.”
“Politically unpopular impeachment hearings have hurt the party before. Republicans lost seats in the 1998 midterm elections following the impeachment proceedings into then-president Bill Clinton.”
“Rather than being damaged by the impeachment proceedings against him in late 1998, Clinton is widely seen to have benefited politically, including with a better than expected performance in that year’s midterm election.”
“Following the Republican-backed impeachment probe into Clinton, a Democrat, Republicans lost House seats in the 1998 midterm elections.”
“None of the scandals from Obama’s time in office ever hit the impeachment threshold, not when there were enough senior GOP members around who knew that impeaching Clinton hadn’t worked out for them politically.”
Wrong, wrong, wrong!
That was pure White House spin, from a man willing to defend himself by smearing Thomas Jefferson. (See above.)
Let’s play back the tape.
Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the average midterm loss for the president’s party has been 27 house seats. But in 1994, Clinton lost an astounding 54 House seats – ushering in a Republican Congress for the first time in 40 years. Districts that had not voted for a Republican congressman since 1950 went Republican. The GOP was bound to lose some of those seats in the next few cycles.
Merely to maintain the historical average, Democrats should have gained at least two dozen House seats in 1998. In fact, they gained only five -- and not a single senate seat. Indeed, the 1998 election was the first time in 70 years Republicans had won majorities in the House three elections in a row.
Peculiarly, Clinton’s flacks had spent the weeks before the election predicting Armageddon for the Democrats. So when they picked up a paltry five seats — instead of the two dozen predicted by history — they bellowed that they’d won a moral victory! (That’s when Republicans learned about the game of low expectations.)
Although Democrats had fallen 21 seats short of the historical average for midterm elections, they claimed the people had spoken: Voters just adored Clinton for getting oral sex from a White House intern, then committing multiple felonies!
This defies common sense. It also defies the exit polls. As Paul West wrote in the Baltimore Sun, “Only about one in five voters listed moral and ethical values as their chief concern in deciding whom to support in House races. Those voters favored Republican candidates by a 6-to-1 margin.” Thus, the Democrats’ 21-seat shortfall.
But Clinton defenders had beaten their own low expectations, and used that little theatrical performance to announce, as George Stephanopoulos did, that impeachment was “over.” (It wasn’t.)
And that’s the lie the media has been repeating ever since.
Noticeably, the Democrats’ fairy tale about the 1998 election didn’t help Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore. Thanks to Clinton, he became the first incumbent president or vice president in a hundred years to lose a presidential election in peacetime and a good economy. (Mind you, that was before we knew Gore was a deranged conspiracy theorist who believes the Earth is in serious peril from cow flatulence.)
Ronald Reagan was so popular he not only won a 49-state landslide re-election for himself, but he also won a symbolic third term for his boob of a vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush (who immediately blew it by breaking his own “no new taxes” pledge).
What was the mystery factor to explain Gore’s historic loss?
The media may have lied to the public about Clinton's vaunted popularity, but Gore's pollsters got paid not to lie to him. And they told him the truth: His association with Clinton was killing him.
After the election, Gore pollster, the inestimable Stanley Greenberg, told Vanity Fair magazine that if Clinton had helped, he would have "had Bill Clinton carry Al Gore around on his back." (This was when one man could still actually carry Al Gore on his back.) But his research showed that whenever Clinton was mentioned, Gore's numbers took a nosedive.
Steve Rosenthal, political director of the AFL-CIO, also blamed Clinton for Gore's loss, saying polls showed that voters who cared about character voted for Bush.
Poor Gore had done everything he could to distance himself from Clinton. He publicly denounced Clinton's sexual exploits with the intern. He refused to be seen with Clinton on the campaign trail. He chose Sen. Joe Lieberman as his running mate — the guy who famously became the first Democrat to denounce Clinton's behavior with Lewinsky on the Senate floor. Also, there was Gore’s huge, embarrassing smooch with his wife on stage at the Democratic National Convention.
But when voters looked at Gore they just couldn't forget the purple-faced lecher.
And that’s the true story of how the Clinton impeachment helped Republicans hold the House through seven election cycles and defeat an incumbent vice president.
That doesn’t mean the GOP should impeach Biden (except for violating federal immigration law). But the Clinton impeachment is anything but a cautionary tale for Republicans. Unlike the Democrats, our side doesn’t impeach presidents for nonsense.