Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Impeachment is the revolting process of purging a toxic substance from the body politic. The process combines 1/2 law, 1/2 politics and 1/2 personal good or ill will. That last element must not be underestimated.
If Clinton had cultivated a good relationship with the congressional Republicans, he never would have been impeached.
People liked Reagan personally, so he got a pass on Iran-Contra.
The Arizona legislature couldn't stand Governor Evan Meacham and his antics, and so he was impeached and removed from office in 1988 even though he was acquitted of the same offenses in his criminal trial.
Of course, Nixon had no good will or political capital to draw on after Watergate, so he was impeached.
A limited number of people will always dither about the fairness of impeachment. A few people still debate whether Parliament had the right to behead Charles I. The argument is still academic.
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