How say you?

Despite the tawdry nature of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and the vicious partisan politics behind the effort to impeach and remove Bill Clinton, it was impossible not to be impressed by the dignity and calm deliberation of the vote that ended the month-long Senate trial. For all its pettiness and excess, the event Americans have witnessed was remarkable. An effort has been made to depose the popularly elected leader of the world’s most powerful nation, yet not one shot was fired; not one drop of blood shed.

In failure, the House Republicans retreated with relative, if not complete, equanimity. In victory, the president’s friends and political allies issued no idle boasts or threats of vengeance. (Vowing to work for the defeat of Republican congressmen is not vengeance, but routine politics.) Both sides solemnly affirmed their loyalty to the Constitution and their resolve to abide, whatever their qualms about the process, by the Senate verdict. More remarkable, Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the often bombastic leader of the House impeachment managers, urged Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr to end his continuing investigation of the president. "I don’t think indicting and criminally trying him, after what we have all been through, is going to be helpful to the country," Hyde said. He’s right-this time.

In the aftermath of his costly (politically and financially) and hard-fought-for acquittal, President Clinton...

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