Sex, Lies, and Presidential Leadership: Interpretations of the Office



    1. Associate professor of communication and political science at Georgia State University. Her books include The President as Interpreter-in-Chief and Strategic Failures in the Modern Presidency.
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    1. Shannon Wabshall is a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Mississippi.
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  • AUTHORS' NOTE: The authors thank Greg Annunziato for his help in gathering data and George Edwards and the anonymous reviewers for their help in improving the article.


The plethora of arguments surrounding the events of the Monica Lewinsky affair and Clinton's resulting impeachment trial provide us with valuable material through which we can begin to understand the varying definitions of what the presidency is and how it should operate. Arguments from the trial transcripts and reports in various media outlets provide perspective on the competing definitions of presidential power and the president's role in the national polity. In other words, the arguments about the immediate fate of President Clinton reveal more than political predilections. They also reveal deeply embedded definitions of presidential power, its limitations, and the proper function of the presidency in the contemporary political system.