Unformatted text preview: 164 Politiri by Other ministration during the Iran-contra probe. Clinton was not it
pelled to contend with such a problem. A second important group that was reluctant to destroy
ton was the national press. Obviously newspaper and televisio
counts of the sometimes sensational charges against Clinton in
Monica Lewinsky case were the source of many of the presid
problems. Many journalists, however, also wrote stories questio
the propriety of the “media frenzy" and “rush to judgment” « "
rounding the scandal. Most, albeit not all, reporters are liberal
Democratic in their political orientation, and most support the
ident’s domestic agenda. As was not true in Nixon’s Watergate
broglio, when push came to shove, few reporters actually wanted,
see Clinton destroyed. For example, speaking on The Mtlaug
Group, veteran Washington correspondent Eleanor Clift lamen
that the Start investigation of Clinton posed a threat to aborti '
rights.44 ' A third important group committed to Clinton’s social pol
cies that stood by the president during his travail was t
women’s movement. The president stood accused of sexual y.
rassment, of having an affair with a young intern, and of vario ‘ ‘
marital inﬂdelities. While women‘s groups had vehemently a "
tacked other politicians accused of sexual improprieties, not
single spokesperson for any major women’s group spoke against
President Clinton or in support of any of the women mentioned;i in connection with him. The obvious reason is that Clinton was,
a staunch proponent of abortion rights, of federal funding for’
child care, and of the appointment of women to high political of- ..
fices. As a result, women‘s groups were prepared to ignore
allegations made against Clinton much as they had always disre—i
garded similar allegations made about Massachusetts Senator Ted "
Kennedy, another ally of women's causes. The stance taken by *.
women’s groups was extremely signiﬁcant for Clinton. In polit- 'v
ical debate, just as African Americans are the most important ar— ‘
biters of what is or is not racist, women’s groups are important
judges of what does or does not constitute an affront to women. 7. Imtitmiimal C what 1 65 Had women’s groups attacked the president, as they had attacked
supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas or Oregon Senator
Bob Packwood, they might have done serious damage to his
standing in the polls and relationship with Congress. The silence
ofwomen's groups served the president’s interests and paved the
way for Hillary Rodham Clinton's furious defense of her husband
before national television cameras. The silence of the women's
movement left the president’s staunchest defender as the only
avowed feminist to speak out on the Lewinsky affair. Thus, iron-
ically, a president accused of sexual harassment and other offenses
against women was, in an important political sense, able to secure
the blessing of the feminist movement. Despite Clinton’s vigorous defense against revelations and in—
vestigations, the Republican attack did damage the administration
and undermine White House efforts to promote the president’s
domestic agenda. White House staffers seemed more concerned
with subpoenas and legal expenses than with the business of gov-
ernment. At the same time several domestic cabinet departments
had to contend with special counsels investigating the activities of
their top executives. Whether or not the GOP was ultimately able
to destroy Clinton through a tactic of RIP, a sustained political at—
tack left the administration unable to focus on policy issues. After
retaining control of Congress in 1996, Republicans promised to use
their investigative powers to harass Clinton for the remainder of his
presidency. “Clinton will be debilitated," predicted the former
Bush White House counsel C. Boyden Gray.45 To a very substan-
tial extent, Gray was right. Republicans on the Defensive Clinton’s eiforts to expand the Democratic party’s domain in the
realm of domestic social policy sparked enormous struggles with
the GOP. Republican efforts to undermine Democratic social pro—
grams also touched off major political conﬂicts. As discussed in
Chapter 4, on the heels of their capture of both houses of Congress
in 1994, Republicans introduced welfare reform, lobby reform, ...
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- Spring '07