You Can’t Swallow the Truth: The Ethics of the Clinton Impeachment

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Almost ten years in the past, Bill Clinton’s story in the White House is all but written in stone. No matter the accomplishments the administration accomplished in its time, Clinton’s extramarital affair and subsequent impeachment will pervade, if not dominate, the president’s legacy. The major facts stand mostly undisputed: the president engaged in sexual activity with Monica Lewinsky and maneuvered to keep the affair secret, culminating in explicit lies to a grand jury. Republican opponents of the president had unreserved political motivations to remove the president from office. Revisiting this scandal with these facts would be both fatiguing and evasive of the underlying issues at stake. To truly gauge the justness of Clinton’s…show more content…
The Founding Fathers had to tread carefully in leading a young country familiar with revolting against tyrannical government authorities. Madison, perhaps more than any other of his counterparts, learned the most important lesson the Articles of Confederation provided: Self-interested groups not only hindered the progress of each of its constituents’ self interest, they endangered the rights of any ensuing minorities. Madison addressed this realization carefully and sensibly. First, Madison grudgingly accepted the idea of competing factions as a reality, for conflict is both inevitable and inherent to democracy. Trying to inhibit the cause of faction would be impractical as well as immoral. Madison instead sought to control the effects of faction by using a system of checks and balances to limit “the capacity of the strong to take advantage of the weak” (Keeley, 1998, p. 119). This pragmatic resolution became one of the founding ideals the Constitution was built upon, though there was much debate as how to equally intertwine the responsibilities of each branch of government, presidential impeachment being one of them. The Framers of the Constitution were initially divided on using impeachment as one of the checks on the executive branch. In discussion of the topic, some expressed fear of how much damage an unrestricted president could do, even with a newly shortened presidential term of office.

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