I’d like to continue that alt-history from the previous post, not for any important lesson, just for amusement. If Trent Lott doesn’t squelch the impeachment and Bill Clinton is removed or is convinced to resign, what next? The claim at the time that most Americans did not want Clinton removed was technically true, but misleading. About 60% thought that, but almost a third of those were only “somewhat opposed,” and another 10% were “moderately opposed.” The numbers varied depending on the wording of the polling. That was also true in the other direction that some who favored removing him were pretty mild about it. In an alt-history replay, there would be a motivated core of Democrats who would have been unhinged about it, with wild accusations of fascism. Oh wait. That happened anyway, so that doesn’t much matter. But some of the moderates or not-paying-attentions or emotion-based voters would have felt a bit sorry for Gore, and want to give him a chance, or whatever. I suspect he would have won in 2000, because it wouldn't take much of a swing. 9-11 happens on his watch, as does the recession. As his term is seen as something as a continuation of the Clinton terms, more blame goes toward the Democrats, and especially the Clintons because of that. OTOH, there was popular sentiment for the US to do something strong in response to 9-11, and Gore would have likely done something. Even Tom Friedman was saying we had to hit somebody. Whether it was wise or foolish, Americans rally around their president at such times, and Gore might have gained more support than he lost. If he didn’t “hit someone,” he might be resented for that. Hard to say; and without knowing exactly what he would have done, harder to project forward.
But the Republicans would be more likely to nominate McCain in 2004 if anything military was either happening or people thought should be happening (Sarah Palin was then ex-mayor of Wasilla, chairing the commission that watched over the oil and gas fields; not a VP possibility), and the Clintons might be dead in the water for good. Or maybe not. If Gore botched things, or was even perceived to have done so, the Clinton true believers could have put out the platform that these terrible responses would never have happened under Clinton, and we’d better elect Hillary right away. I think McCain wins either way.
The reader is welcome to propose alternate scenarios. No penalty. Except I will find you completely unconvincing, of course.