The impeachment of former United States President Bill Clinton during his second term in 1998 happens to be a tremulous event in the American Political History. On Dec 19, 1998, the House of Representatives impeached President Clinton on two charges, one of obstruction of justice and the other of perjury. These charges on the President were made following the exposé of Lewinsky scandal and the Paula Jones lawsuit. The speech under discussion was delivered by the President after the completion of the impeachment motion.
President Clinton begins the speech with a note of thanks to the members of Democratic caucus and a few Republicans who voted against the impeachment of the President. The President then following a one line apology for the mistakes he considered to be of personal in nature and moves on to discuss future course of action. He talks about his duties as a President and why there is a need for the ‘politics of personal destruction’ to stop. In his speech he tries to highlight the good things he had done as a President and points towards the positive direction the country is headed in. However, he believes that the action of the opposition party in the House of Representatives was highly partisan and targeted towards him personally. President Clinton remarks that this poisonous venom of obsessive animosity, excessive partisanship and uncontrolled anger is not something that America deserves and the need of the hour is for the people to rise above it and work collectively towards a better future.
The efficacy of the speech can be gauged from the tone of the President and the articulate implementation of words. At no point during the speech does one get the impression that it a speech from an individual who is only the second President to undergo the humiliation of impeachment. There is no bitterness in his words, nor does he express remorse over the partisan nature of the vote. He looks forward and appeals to his opposition and the public alike, not to make decisions based on animosity and anger. The President also sounded confident of getting his message through to the public. President Clinton demonstrates grace and self-restraint in these hard times. Perhaps the reason for such confidence was also the knowledge of remote possibility of him being removed from office by the Senate. I believe this speech exemplifies a few qualities that a leader is supposed to have. Those are of being stable, calm and not being perturbed by attacks of personal nature. The speech also reflects upon the state of politics that prevailed during the times, where use of such tactics was gaining ground.
Clinton, William Jefferson. "Remarks Following the House of Representatives Vote on Impeachment." South Lawn at the White House. Washington D.C. 19 Dec 1998. Address.