The Evil of Two Lessers?

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Mon Aug 7 14:24:23 PDT 2000

On Mon, 7 Aug 2000, Doug Henwood wrote:

> >The moralists didn't lose the impeachment battle; the people who wanted to
> >make political decisions based on that moralism lost. In fact, Lieberman
> >is the perfect embodiment of the basic public attitudes and desires of the
> >American people- "Bad President, bad bad President - sin no more and keep
> >that stock market rolling."
> No I don't believe that. Clinton's approval ratings rose with the
> crisis and stayed there.

Actually, what happened is that where his personal approval and job approval ratings had both been hovering in the mid-50s to 60 percent, the Lewinsky disclosures led to a complete bifurcation in his two ratings, with the job approval ratings going up and the personal approval ratings plummeting.

What I think happened was that up to that point, the whole range of allegations against Clinton had led to peoples' degrees of personal uneasiness with Clinton to artifically suppress his job approval ratings. The whole Lewinsky scandal was such a sharp disruption that people just completely severed their moralistic and pragmatic evaluations of him.

Unlike the media and the GOP, they took the grown up position that you didn't have to like a person's morals to approve of their political actions. And, yes, the fact that CLinton's enemies were hypocrites like Ken Starr and Newt Gingrich helped him politically by comparison.

But the fact that Clinton loses to both Bush Sr. and Jr. in imaginary trial heats reveals that people do have serious personal issues with Clinton, since on pure job approval grounds, he should be tromping both of them. (Although he still beat Bob Dole, who is associated with the whole nasty Gingrich hypocrites brigade.)

-- Nathan Newman

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