Monica Lewinsky

Lewinsky Scandal Tipped Presidential Approval Ratings

The spike in partisan presidential approval ratings can be traced to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.

The spike in partisan presidential approval ratings can be traced to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.

President Obama's approval ratings have continued to droop under the weight of criticism about his handling of the Ebola crisis as he has steadfastly refused, as critics have demanded, to close the U.S. border to anyone traveling from West Africa.

Curiously, Monica Lewinsky, now in her 40s, has resurfaced to talk about her love affair with President Bill Clinton. A Washington Post political blogger sees a connection.

Presidential approval ratings have taken on a partisan flavor, just as other aspects of political life. Gallup generated data showing the most polarized viewpoints of Presidents over the last 50 years have occurred since 2000 with the contested election of George W. Bush.

The gaps between Republicans and Democrats is astounding. Approval ratings for Obama in 2012-2013 and for Bush in 2004-2005 showed a 76 percentage point spread among partisans.

President Bill Clinton's approval rating in 1996-1997 was 85 percent by Democrats, but only 23 percent by Republicans — a 62 percentage-point spread.

President Ronald Reagan's approval rating in 1984-1985 was 89 percent by Republicans and 29 percent by Democrats — a 60 percentage-point spread.

Chris Cillizza, writing "The Fix" political blog in The Washington Post, says the Clinton scandal involving Monica Lewinsky was what cemented polarized perspectives on Presidents.

"Democrats came to view the whole Lewinsky saga as a personal foible that, while awful for the Clintons, meant nothing as to whether or not Bill Clinton was — or could be — and effective President," Cillizza wrote. "Republicans, on the other hand, viewed Clinton's initial lies about the relationship as fundamentally disqualifying."

"There's no question that the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal – and by that I mean the whole thing, including how the media covered it, how politicians reacted to it and how technology turned it into a worldwide sensation — was a pivot point in American politics, a time when things changed and haven't changed back."

DC Dithers as the World Swirls

Terrorists abduct schoolgirls in Nigeria. Tornados devastate the South. The housing market remains shaky. Climate change is blamed for rising number of deaths due to heat stroke.

Then Monica Lewinsky resurfaced in a tell-all essay and Republicans pencil in yet another congressional hearing on Benghazi. And politicians wonder why people regard Washington, DC as irrelevant.

After finally getting the green light from a proud, but internationally embarrassed Nigeria government, the United States is sending help to locate and rescue almost 300 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Some worry help may be coming too late, even as the terrorist group pulls off more daring abductions. Nobody knows where the schoolgirls are.

President Obama flew to Arkansas to commiserate with victims of the latest serious tornado that killed at least 15 people and left a wake of destruction in its 40-mile path. He reassured victims and local leaders the nation stands behind the survivors who face rebuilding their community for the second time in three years. While people expressed appreciation for Obama's visit, one woman who lost her son in the tornado said all the President really could do is "be here."

New Fed Chair Janice Yellen said the U.S. economy remains vulnerable after a cold winter and amid a sluggish housing market.

Scientists issued another grim warning about climate change, saying its effects are already being felt in harsher droughts, more torrential rainstorms and more severe wildfires. They said average temperatures on the planet could increase 10 degrees by the end of this century, as climate change effects accelerate.