- Clinton benefited from having enemies who were easily demonized. Conservatives have long been attacking Joe Wilson and the "liberal media." But Patrick Fitzgerald is no Kenneth Starr. While Starr had estimable professional credentials, he was also a longtime Republican partisan, having served as George H. W. Bush's Solicitor General. Fitzgerald is a Republican and a career prosecutor. Starr was chosen by a three-judge panel dominated by conservatives; Fitzgerald was appointed by Bush's Justice Department. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL) (no relation) named him as U.S. Attorney in Chicago. Meanwhile, no Democrat has emerged as the equivalent to Newt Gingrich or Henry Hyde.
- Clinton was vastly more popular in January 1998, when the Lewinsky scandal broke, than Bush is now. Clinton's job approval rating was about 60%; Bush's numbers are more than 20 points lower. Americans are already predisposed to think ill of Bush. Clinton benefited from citizens' contentment with the peace and prosperity of the late '90s. According to the Gallup Poll, in early '98, about 60% of Americans were satisfied with the state of the nation; now 68% are dissatisfied.
- Clinton could argue that the Lewinsky scandal was a distraction from his popular policies. None of Bush's policies are popular, and Plamegate is deeply tied to a very unpopular policy indeed -- the Iraq War. Only about a third of Americans approve of how Bush is handling Iraq.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Pummel the Prosecutor?
If Rove et al are indicted, the Bush White House will likely employ the same "war room" strategy that its predecessor used in fighting impeachment. But there are at least three obstacles to pursuing this path: