Aquittals Essay, Research Paper
Abuse of power has never been welcomed by society. Whether it is in the home, on the job, in our schools or in our government, society subjects these abuses of power to investigation and prosecution. The penalties can be a dismissal from their position, court marshal or impeachment for the president. According to Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, the president shall be removed from the office on impeachment for and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. As we study American history, we see that the saying, history repeats itself appears to be true. For instance, more than 130 years ago, our nation faced the same event that recently occurred: the impeachment of the president of the United States. Although President Andrew Johnson and President Bill Clinton both went through the impeachment process their circumstances surrounding the charges were quite different. President Johnson was not elected, but became president after Lincoln s death. President Clinton s problems on the other hand were his personal affairs. Congress believed that his behavior toward them and the citizens of the United States was unacceptable. The processes and trials of Johnson and Clinton are different in their reasons for impeachment, the general state of the nation, the difference in the people and the styles of running the office of president.
The reasons for impeachment of Johnson and Clinton are very different. President Johnson came into office at one of the most intense periods of our nation s history. Not only had a great leader just been assassinated, but the end of a long, tragic war had just come. Congress did not think very highly of Johnson or his ideas about the South and slavery. Through loss of favor and trust and as punishment for Johnson s many votes, Congress voted to impeach him. This was just the method they were looking for to remove President Johnson from office. President Clinton, on the other hand, was brought to an impeachment trail because of perjury and obstruction of justice. The whole issues of his relations with Monica Lewinsky and the fact that he did not tell the whole truth under an oath brought about his charges. Clinton s perjury account is a result of false and misleading statements to a federal jury in response to questions about his relationship with Lewinsky.
During the 134 years that separated the two terms of these presidents, the world became a much different place connected by the speed of light through technology that was never thought to be possible. Instantaneous reporting of the facts by all forms of the media proved to add a new dimension to the impeachment process – the power of public opinion. The general state of the nation provided a great contrast. During Johnson’s antiquated time, the damages from the war needed to be repaired and the union needed to be restored. The nation was in turmoil as the Reconstruction period began. President Lincoln had already laid the groundwork for Reconstruction, but after his assassination the nation had to create new plans. The poor relationship between a Republican Congress and the Democratic President did not help. In today s technologically based society, President Clinton is fortunate the America people are in a positive economic time and happy with their government. Even though the Congress and President Clinton are of different political parties, they have been able to work together. Because of the contrasting circumstances of the peoples feelings around the time of each impeachment, different reactions occurred.
Leadership styles of each President were also very different. President Johnson and the Congress never agreed on the key issues the nation faced. Every time that Congress would send a bill to be approved by Johnson, he would veto it. Then, Congress would override the veto, creating even more hostility between the two branches of government. Johnson used the power of the veto more than twice as often as any former president. Also, President Johnson was not an elected President of the United States. The power was bestowed upon him as a result of President Abraham Lincoln’s death. Johnson did not have the same leadership style as his predecessor. President Clinton, in contrast, was elected to the presidency for two terms. Obviously, Clinton is well liked by the majority of American people. He was able to work with Congress on issues that affect today’s society. While President Clinton did handle several potentially serious international affairs with Iraq and other foreign countries, his style of leadership seems to appeal to the American people. Leadership style and public perception of the event is very important when a President is put into a situation where he may be impeached. In the presidency, only three times in our country s history has the issue of impeachment arisen. Even though President Johnson and President Clinton were not removed from office, their trials and impeachments still set the precedent for future trials. Although the circumstances surrounding President Johnson and President Clinton are very different, the public opinion weighed heavily in the outcome. May Americans never witness the scrutiny needed by the impeachment process where American laundry is hung out to dry for all nations to see.