From the very beginning of the Clinton impeachment crisis, the WSWS drew attention to the underlying class issues and the implications of the right-wing effort to cripple or remove the Clinton administration for the democratic rights of the working class.
Pointing out the repeated use of sex scandals to shift official politics in America in a reactionary direction, the WSWS explained that the central issue was not President Bill Clinton’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, or his lying about it, but the conflict within the American ruling elite and what it revealed about the crisis and decay of American democracy. The first major commentary published after the official launching of the site on February 14, 1998, was headlined “The social roots of the Clinton crisis.”
This initial statement traced the attack on Clinton to the rise of a parasitic financial elite that demanded ever-greater cuts in social spending and a more aggressive assertion of US strategic and economic interests overseas, and viewed Clinton’s efforts to satisfy their concerns as insufficient.
On the basis of this analysis, the WSWS developed a principled approach to the Clinton crisis, opposing the right-wing campaign to mount a political coup against a twice-elected president while giving no political support to the Clinton administration or the Democratic Party. The WSWS exposed the efforts of Clinton and the Democratic Party to curry favor with the ultra-right through such provocations as US air strikes against Iraq and the missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan that followed the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Dozens of articles and commentaries examined the day-to-day unfolding of the political crisis, coupled with major statements at the most important turning points.
In “The impeachment of President Clinton: Is America drifting toward civil war?,” the WSWS made a political warning after the decision by the Republicans to impeach Clinton, despite their repudiation by the voters in the November congressional elections. It noted the unprecedented ferocity of the political warfare in Washington, despite the relatively insignificant political differences between the right-wing Clinton administration and its ultra-right opponents. The intensity of the conflict, must in the final analysis, the statement argued, reflect more profound tensions within American society.
This social differentiation explained both the aggressiveness of the Republican right, which proceeded to impeachment in ruthless disregard for public opinion, and the prostration of the Democratic Party, which long ago abandoned its liberal reform program to become the junior party of political reaction, and which refused to make any appeal for popular support even when its control of the White House was in jeopardy.
The WSWS at every point exposed the impotence and cowardice of Clinton and the Democrats and the inability and unwillingness of this party of big business to defend the democratic rights of the people against an assault from the far right.
Throughout the crisis, the WSWS criticized those pseudo-left tendencies that dismissed the political crisis in Washington as insignificant or irrelevant, thereby disarming the working class in the face of the mounting threat to democratic rights.
At the same time, the WSWS maintained intransigent opposition to the actions of the Clinton administration, the leadership of the most powerful imperialist nation in the world. We denounced the US air strikes on Iraq and other acts of aggression ordered by the White House, as in the statement published December 18, 1998, in the midst of impeachment, entitled “The bombing of Iraq, a shameful chapter in American history.”