When the dust settled from the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1999, his approval rating sat at an astounding 73 percent. That’s a note of caution to Democrats who believe that, having taken the House of Representatives, they should impeach Donald Trump.
The situation and times are not completely analogous, of course. Trump would probably be lucky to hit 73 percent approval in his own White House. But there are enough comparisons for this historical note to give Democrats serious pause. …
… Like Trump, Clinton’s troubles began with having a difficult time keeping his pants on. Also like Trump, lying about and trying to obfuscate an illicit tryst was eventually the high crime or misdemeanor that Republicans in the House in 1998 latched onto.
It is now, and was then, abundantly clear that Clinton lied about his affair with Monica Lewinski. Notwithstanding his “What does ‘is’ mean” argument, he almost certainly committed perjury. So what happened? How did his impeachment and eventual Senate acquittal balloon his approval to one of the highest levels ever measured?
The simplest answer is that while the American people did not believe Clinton, they also did not believe he had acted badly enough for Congress to overturn the results of a free and fair presidential election.