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Saturday, February 13, 1999 Published at 19:01 GMT

A 'pyrrhic victory' for Clinton

No time for celebrations at the White House

President Clinton has won a hollow victory, despite his acquittal by the US Senate, say News Online users.

More than 80% of people who e-mailed News Online felt the president may have been cleared of the impeachment charges, but his standing had been damaged forever.

Most felt that there were no winners in the impeachment trial.

"Nobody wins in this situation. Did Clinton play by the rules? No. Did the witch-hunting Republicans play by the rules? No. The American people are embarrassed by the whole debacle," wrote Faye from the USA.

[ image: A damaged presidency]
A damaged presidency
An overwhelming number felt the trial have done real damage to the reputation of President Clinton.

"Our president won the battle but lost the war. Yes, he will stay in office for the next two years, but history will treat him as a deeply flawed disappointment", said Julie Allen from the USA.

For others, Mr Clinton had also damaged the institution of the presidency. Edward Williamson Mullins from the USA said the president had left it "crippled by public distrust of his truthfulness and trustworthiness".

For some, the acquittal amounted to little more than damage control.

"The right-wing clique that tried to kick Clinton out of office has failed - a clear defeat for them. In that sense, Clinton has won - or at least he hasn't lost", said Ed from the USA.

A minority went further, arguing the acquittal represented a real victory.

"The American people won in the battle to stop their president from being impeached and removed from office", said Dave Adams from the USA.

"From the beginning this whole thing has been a plot to prevent President Clinton from having success with his agenda, that has been in the interests of a vast majority of the citizens. This is a real victory for democracy."

President Clinton would be encouraged by the words of a fellow American, Johnny, who echoed his call for reconciliation and renewal.

"In the end we have all won. A true milestone in American history was reached on this day. Reconciliation is in the air", he said.

Republicans criticised

By contrast the Republican party came under heavy fire for their relentless prosecution in the face of opinion polls which weighed heavily in favour of the president.

Ed Williams from Brazil saw that "it was the behaviour of his prosecutors that was shameful and filthy."

[ image: Rep Henry Hyde: Under fire]
Rep Henry Hyde: Under fire
Matt Simon of the US pointed out that "Clinton has not won as much as the Republicans in Congress have lost. All along, most American citizens have seen what the politicians have not: that the entire affair has been a catastrophic waste of government time and money."

There was a sense of relief among the majority of users that the trial was over.

But many felt the reputation of the US had suffered as a result of the whole spectacle.

"Our nation has lost" mourned David of the USA. Fellow American Patricia Gardiner felt that the US had been made "a laughing stock abroad" by the affair.

Philip Souta of the United Kingdom agreed. "This entire farce has been a damning indictment on the partisan nature of American politics. If they were not the world policeman, this would be most amusing. But as it is, it is just damaging, and bloody embarrassing."

Another American, Alan Walker, argued there had only been one winner from the whole affair.

"The only people who have truly won are the media who have sold countless millions of newspapers and advertising spaces on the back of it", he said.

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In this section

Clinton in the clear

Eyewitness: Of all my trials...

World's press takes stock

Relief greets end of trial

A 'pyrrhic victory' for Clinton

Everybody wins

Key moments: In their own words

Timeline: The Clinton investigation