by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If Democrats had abandoned Bill Clinton in early 1998, they and the country would have been way better off. There was no “higher principle” at stake during the national debate about Clinton’s fate after the revelation of the Lewinsky affair, and blind partisan spite prevented Democrats from recognizing that they had been tricked into defending the indefensible.
In 1998, if Bill Clinton had resigned, Al Gore would have become president. We can argue about how the next two years would have proceeded, but it seems likely that after two years of peace (other than the embassy bombings and the U.S.S. Cole bombing) and runaway prosperity of the peak of the dot-com era, incumbent president Al Gore would have had really good odds for winning the 2000 election.
Had Bill Clinton resigned, what would the Democrats, the cultural Left, feminists, and liberals have lost? In terms of policy, nothing; the Gore agenda would probably have been virtually indistinguishable from Clinton’s. In terms of principle, nothing; they would have stood up consistently for the belief that sexual harassment is worth taking seriously and that bosses aren’t supposed to see their employees as a potential harem.