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Public Opinion

Lewinsky and Clinton – two names that have been plastered across the face of every major newspaper. No doubt you’re sick of hearing their names. The saga enveloping them is old, leaving little dispute Clinton is guilty. He committed adultery, lied under oath, and tried to obstruct justice by covering it up. Forever he has changed the highest position in the free world.

Republicans and Democrats alike agree Clinton is guilty. So, then, why hasn’t he been forced from office? Why has he soared in public opinion polls?

The answer, in short, is the Denver Broncos.

"The Denver Broncos!" you might ask. Yes, the Denver Broncos.

Well, there’s another small point: the economy.

History has proven that when the economy is strong, people feel good about themselves. With more disposable income, they purchase items they otherwise wouldn’t, they live fuller lives, and as long as hope for the future remains high, they could care less who’s navigating the cruise ship. They’re happy perched on the upper deck in their beach chair, sunning by the pool, margarita in hand, and watching tanned, hard bodies touch a touch in the on-deck pool – something Clinton would love.

But a strong economy is only part of why Clinton prevails. This brings us back to the Denver Broncos.

Prior to 1998 Denver Bronco quarterback John Elway was coined by hard-core football fans as the guy who couldn’t win the big game. They were right – he couldn’t. After 14 years in the NFL he had no Super Bowl rings, making him an underdog of sorts.

Elway and Clinton had shared something in common. You see, both had this extraordinary ability to attract women – Elway cheerleaders and Clinton political pom-pom pushers. No really, they did share something else. That is, both were underdogs. In Elway’s case football fans either loved or hated him. In January of ’97 when he got another chance at the big game, some wanted him to win while others desperately wanted fall flat on his butt. But hard core fans make up only a slim minority of the population, a mere slice of the whole. The average person couldn’t care less whether the Broncos or Cowboys or Yankees were in the Super Bowl. To them football is not important. The only time they watch – if at all – is during the Super Bowl, only because, like New Year’s Eve, it is the thing to do. They are Once-a-year fans, those that become fans for a single day, one day a year.

In Clinton’s case, the general public – akin to those Once-a-year fans – plus the hard cores, make up the sample of those selected in public opinion polls. They hear about Elway, how he never won the big game, how he chokes when everything is on the line, and how the pundits question his greatness. So it’s no surprise, these same fans see him as an underdog. Everyone likes an underdog, right? Everyone wants to see the underdog succeed – to defy all odds – right – come from behind? If for nothing else, it is to squelch those Cheese-heads in the Dawg Pound who say he can’t will the big one.

Whether they like him or not, when forced to watch, these fans route for him; he is the underdog.

Like these Once-a-year football fans, the public, whether they like Clinton or not, care less about the legal hoopla engulfing the House and Senate. They see that it only prohibits the country from moving ahead, that the parties fighting for or against him are taking away their energies and time from the business of the country, from doing their job they were elected to do. Supporting the underdog, a form of backlash, seems the thing to do.

With the economy humming along and expendable cash overflowing from pockets, life is good. Up in Congress, Republicans and Democrats dicker back and forth along party lines about Clinton, about how to punish him. They agree on one thing: that he’s guilty. But they do not agree on how to punish him. Republicans want to kick him while he’s down, something Clinton deserves, and not just with a wet noodle. The public witnesses a man who’s down and getting pummeled by Congress, the media, Bimbo Limbah, all making him, in their eyes, an underdog. Public opinion rockets. They want the underdog to succeed like Elway did. Now some pollster asks whether you support some guy named Clinton. You hear over and again, he’s an adulterer, a liar, a sex maniac – you hear it all. The man said he was sorry; you heard it. In spite jabbing a finger at a television camera a year earlier, proclaiming, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman … Monica Lewinsky" – a flagrant lie – the public backs him. He is the underdog. You already know he will not be removed from office. "So," you say, "let’s get back to business."

John Elway went on to win not one but two Super Bowls, proving his critics wrong. He is a future hall-of-famer, guaranteeing history will not forget him. Bill Clinton went on to be impeached, proving all critics right. His public opinion polls soar. Both Elway and Clinton were underdogs and got trounced by their opponents. Elway has two rings to boot. Clinton public opinion, and a guilty conscience.