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What 1998’s Impeachment Proceedings Say About That Prospect For 2018


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A new year invites examination, a moment to compare the present to the past to discover patterns that forecast the future. In 2018, certain patterns are already emerging, with time coordinates leading back two decades.

In 1998, the “information superhighway” advanced communication, magazines like George filled bookstore shelves, the economic boom seemed boundless, and the country enjoyed a deceptive post-Cold War peace. It was also the year dial-up speeds accelerated news digestion, the media raged into a dervish frenzy over a presidential scandal, and a political party miscalculated its electoral destiny.


It’s difficult to project certainty about the future, but one cannot help but draw comparisons between 2018 and 1998. The new year, like 1998, will be dominated by a well-established prosecutor leading an extensive investigation into the presidency. The scandal will enrapture cable news.

If history demonstrates, the audience will ultimately become fatigued, disinterested, and even frustrated. The opposing party of the White House, endowed with moral certitude, will believe its reward awaits at the polls. But 1998 reminds us that Election Day can be an unpredictable civic exercise.


Democrats desperately hoping that history repeats itself?

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