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Bill Clinton


William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III, August 19, 1946) served as the forty-second President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. He was the fifteenth Democrat elected to that office. He was the third-youngest president, older only than Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. He became president at the end of the Cold War, and as he was born in the period after World War II, is known as the first Baby Boomer president. His wife is the New York Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Clinton was described as a New Democrat and was largely known for the Third Way philosophy of governance that came to epitomize his two terms as president. His policies, on issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and welfare reform, have been described as "centrist. Clinton presided over the longest period of peace-time economic expansion in American history, which included a balanced budget and a reported federal surplus. Based on Congressional accounting rules, at the end of his presidency Clinton reported a surplus of $559 billion. On the heels of a failed attempt at health care reform with a Democratic Congress, Republicans won control of the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years. Two years later, he was re-elected and became the first member of the Democratic Party since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term as President. Later he was impeached for obstruction of justice, but subsequently was acquitted by the U.S. Senate.

Clinton left office with an approval rating at 65%, the highest end of office rating of any President since World War II. Since then, Clinton has been involved in public speaking and humanitarian work. To promote and address international causes, such as treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and global warming, he created the William J. Clinton Foundation.

In 2004, he released his autobiography, My Life, and more recently has been involved in his wife Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign and in that of Barack Obama.

Early life

Bill Clinton was born "William Jefferson Blythe III" in Hope, Arkansas. His father, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., was a traveling salesman who died in an automobile accident three months before Bill was born. Following his birth, in order to study nursing, his mother Virginia Dell Cassidy (1923-1994), traveled to New Orleans, leaving Bill in Hope with grandparents Eldridge and Edith Cassidy, who owned and operated a small grocery store. At a time when the Southern United States were racially segregated, Bill's grandparents sold goods on credit to people of all racial groups. In 1950, Bill's mother returned from nursing school and shortly thereafter married Roger Clinton, who together with his brother owned an automobile dealership in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The family moved to Hot Springs in 1950.

Although he assumed use of his stepfather's surname, it was not until Billy (as he was known then) turned fourteen that he formally adopted the surname Clinton, partially as a gesture toward his stepfather. Clinton says he remembers his stepfather as a gambler and an alcoholic who regularly abused his mother and, at times, his half-brother, Roger, Jr. Clinton intervened multiple times with the threat of violence to protect them.


In Hot Springs, Clinton attended St. John's Catholic Elementary School, Ramble Elementary School, and Hot Springs High School - where he was an active student leader, avid reader, and musician. He was in the chorus and played the tenor saxophone, winning first chair in the state band's saxophone section. He briefly considered dedicating his life to music, but as he noted in his autobiography My Life:

(…) Sometime in my sixteenth year I decided I wanted to be in public life as an elected official. I loved music and thought I could be very good, but I knew I would never be John Coltrane or Stan Getz. I was interested in medicine and thought I could be a fine doctor, but I knew I would never be Michael DeBakey. But I knew I could be great in public service.

In 1963, two influential moments in Clinton's life contributed to his decision to become a public figure. One was his visit to the White House to meet President John F. Kennedy, as a Boys Nation senator. The other was listening to Martin Luther King's 1963 I Have a Dream speech (he memorized Dr. King's words).

With the aid of scholarships, Clinton attended the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., receiving a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (B.S.F.S.) degree in 1968. He spent the summer of 1967, the summer before his senior year, working as an intern for Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright. While in college he became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Clinton was also a member of Youth Order of DeMolay, but he never actually became a Freemason. He is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi's National Honorary Band Fraternity, Inc.

Upon graduation he won a Rhodes Scholarship to University College, Oxford where he studied Government. He developed an interest in rugby union, playing at Oxford and later for the Little Rock Rugby club in Arkansas. While at Oxford he also participated in Vietnam War protests, including organizing an October 1969 Moratorium event. In later life he admitted to smoking cannabis at the university, but claimed that he "never inhaled.

After Oxford, Clinton attended Yale Law School and obtained a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 1973. While at Yale, he began dating law student Hillary Rodham who was a year ahead of him. They married in 1975 and their only child, Chelsea, was born in 1980.

Early political career

Leader of Texas McGovern Presidential Campaign of 1972

During Yale, Clinton took a job with the McGovern campaign and was assigned to lead McGovern's effort in Texas. He spent considerable time in Dallas, Texas, at the McGovern campaign's local headquarters on Lemmon Avenue where he had an office. There, Clinton worked with Ron Kirk, who was later elected mayor of Dallas twice, future governor of Texas Ann Richards, and then unknown television director (and future filmmaker) Steven Spielberg.

Governor of Arkansas

After graduating from Yale Law School, Clinton returned to Arkansas and became a professor at the University of Arkansas. A year later, he ran for the House of Representatives in 1974. The incumbent, John Paul Hammerschmidt, defeated Clinton by a 52% to 48% margin. Without opposition in the general election, Clinton was elected Arkansas Attorney General in 1976.

Clinton was elected Governor of Arkansas in 1978, making him the youngest governor in the country at age thirty-two. He worked on educational reform and Arkansas's roads, but his term included an unpopular motor vehicle tax and citizens' anger over the escape of Cuban refugees (from the Mariel boatlift) detained in Fort Chaffee in 1980. Monroe Schwarzlose of Kingsland in Cleveland County, polled 31% of the vote against Clinton in the Democratic gubernatorial primary of 1980. Some suggested Schwarzlose's unexpected voter turnout foreshadowed Clinton's defeat in the general election that year by Republican challenger Frank D. White. As Clinton once joked, he was the youngest ex-governor in the nation's history.

Clinton joined friend's Bruce Lindsey's law firm of Wright, Lindsey and Jennings, though he spent most of the next two years working on his re-election campaign. Clinton was again elected governor and kept his job for ten years. He helped Arkansas transform its economy and significantly improve the state's educational system. He became a leading figure among the New Democrats. The New Democrats, organized within the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) were a branch of the Democratic Party that called for welfare reform and smaller government, a policy supported by both Democrats and Republicans. He served as Chair of the National Governors Association from 1986 to 1987, bringing him to an audience beyond Arkansas.

Clinton made economic growth, job creation and educational improvement high priorities. For senior citizens, he removed the sales tax from medicine and increased the home property tax exemption. Clinton was responsible for some state educational improvement programs, notably more spending for schools, rising opportunities for gifted children, an increase in vocational education, and raising of teachers' salaries.

Clinton's Governorship answered conservative criticism, but personal and business transactions made by the Clintons during this period became the basis of the Whitewater investigation, which dogged his later presidential administration. After very extensive investigation over several years, no indictments were made against the Clintons related to the years in Arkansas.

Democratic Presidential Primaries of 1988

In 1987 there was media speculation Clinton would enter the race after then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo declined to run and Democratic front-runner Gary Hart withdrew owing to revelations of marital infidelity. Clinton decided to remain as Arkansas governor. For the nomination, Clinton endorsed Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. However, he gave the opening night address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, which was nationally-televised, but it was criticized for length. Presenting himself as a moderate and a member of the New Democrat wing of the Democratic Party, he headed the moderate Democratic Leadership Council in 1990 and 1991.

Democratic Presidential Primaries of 1992

Due to his youthful appearance he was often called the "Boy Governor." In the first contest, the Iowa caucus, he finished a very distant third to Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. During the campaign for the New Hampshire Primary reports of an extramarital affair with Gennifer Flowers surfaced. As Clinton fell far behind former Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas in the New Hampshire polls, following the Super Bowl, Clinton and his wife Hillary went on 60 Minutes to refute the charges.

"The Comeback Kid"

Their television appearance was a calculated risk but Clinton regained several delegates. He finished second to Tsongas in the New Hampshire primary, but after trailing badly in the polls and coming within single digits of winning, the media viewed it as a victory. On election night, Clinton labeled himself "The Comeback Kid." He ended leading New Hampshire by a large percentage. However, Tsongas picked up little or no momentum from his victory.

Winning the big prizes of Florida and Texas and many of the Southern primaries gave Clinton a sizable delegate lead. However, former California Governor Jerry Brown was scoring victories and Clinton had yet to win a significant contest outside of his native South.

With no major Southern state remaining, Clinton targeted the New York primary, which contained a large number of delegates. He scored a resounding victory in New York City and won, shedding his image as a regional candidate. Having been transformed into the consensus candidate, he secured the Democratic Party nomination, finishing with a victory in Jerry Brown's home state of California.

Presidential Election

Clinton won the 1992 presidential election (43.0% of the vote) against Republican incumbent George H. W. Bush (37.4% of the vote) and billionaire populist H. Ross Perot, who ran as an independent (18.9% of the vote) on a platform focusing on domestic issues; a significant part of Clinton's success was Bush's steep decline in public approval. Because Bush's approval ratings were in the 80% range during the Persian Gulf conflict, he was described as "unbeatable." However, when Bush compromised with Democrats in an attempt to lower Federal deficits, he reneged on his promise not to raise taxes, hurting his approval rating. Clinton repeatedly condemned Bush for making a promise he failed to keep. By election time, the economy was souring and Bush saw his approval rating plummet to slightly over 40%. Finally, conservatives were previously united by anti-communism, but with the end of the Cold War, the party lacked a uniting issue. When Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson addressed Christian themes at the Republican National Convention, with Bush criticizing Democrats for omitting God from their platform, many moderates were alienated. Clinton then pointed to his moderate, "New Democrat" record as governor of Arkansas, though some on the more liberal side of the party remained suspicious. Many Democrats who supported Ronald Reagan and Bush in previous elections switched their allegiance to Clinton.

His election ended twelve years of Republican rule of the White House, and twenty of the previous twenty four years. The election gave Democrats full control of the United States Congress. Clinton was the first president to enjoy this windfall since Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s.

However, during the campaign questions of conflict of interest regarding state business and the politically powerful Rose Law Firm, at which Hillary Rodham Clinton was a partner, arose. Clinton maintained questions were moot because all transactions with the state were deducted prior to determining Hillary's firm pay. Further concern arose when Bill Clinton announced that voters would be getting two presidents "for the price of one".

Presidency, 1993–2001

First term, 1993–1997

Clinton was inaugurated as the 42nd President of the United States on January 20, 1993. In his inaugural address he declared:

Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.

Legislative agenda

Shortly after taking office, Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which required large employers to allow employees to take unpaid leave for pregnancy or a serious medical condition. While this action was popular, Clinton's attempt to fulfill another campaign promise of allowing openly homosexual men and women to serve in the armed forces garnered criticism from the left (for being too tentative in promoting gay rights) and from the right (who opposed any effort to allow gays to serve). After much debate, Congress implemented the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, stating as long as homosexuals keep their sexuality secret, they may serve in the military. Some gay rights advocates criticized Clinton for not going far enough and accused him of making his campaign promise to get votes and contributions. These advocates feel Clinton should have integrated the military by executive order, noting President Harry Truman used executive order to racially desegregate the armed forces. Clinton's defenders argue an executive order might have prompted the Democratic Senate to write the exclusion of gays into law, potentially making it harder to integrate the military in the future. Later in his presidency, in 1999, Clinton said he did not think any serious person could say the way the policy was being implemented was not "out of whack.

The Clinton administration launched the first official White House website on October 21, 1994. It was followed by three more versions, resulting in the final edition launched in 2000. The White House website was part of a wider movement of the Clinton administration toward web-based communication. According to Robert Longley, "Clinton and Gore were responsible for pressing almost all federal agencies, the U.S. court system and the U.S. military onto the Internet, thus opening up America's government to more of America's citizens than ever before. On July 17, 1996, President Clinton issued Executive Order 13011 – Federal Information Technology, ordering the heads of all federal agencies to fully utilize information technology to make the information of the agency easily accessible to the public.

Also in 1993, Clinton controversially supported ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement by the U.S. Senate. Clinton, along with most of his Democratic Leadership Committee allies, strongly supported free trade measures; there remained, however, strong intra-party disagreement. Opposition chiefly came from anti-trade Republicans, protectionist Democrats and supporters of Ross Perot. The bill passed the house with 234 votes against 200 opposed (132 Republicans and 102 Democrats voting in favor, 156 Democrats, 43 Republicans, and 1 independent against). The treaty was then ratified by the Senate and signed into law by the President on January 1, 1994.

Clinton signed the Brady Bill, which imposed a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases. He also expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, a subsidy for low income workers.

One of the most prominent items on Clinton's legislative agenda was the result of a taskforce headed by Hillary Clinton, which was a health care reform plan aimed at achieving universal coverage via a national healthcare plan. Though initially well-received in political circles, it was ultimately doomed by well-organized opposition from conservatives, the American Medical Association, and the health insurance industry. However, John F. Harris, a biographer of Clinton's, states the program failed because of a lack of co-ordination within the White House. Despite his party holding a majority in Congress, the effort to create a national healthcare system ultimately died under heavy public pressure. It was the first major legislative defeat of Clinton's administration.

Two months later, after two years of Democratic Party control, the Democrats lost control of Congress in the mid-term elections in 1994, for the first time in forty years.

Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 in August 1993, which passed Congress without a Republican vote. It cut taxes for fifteen million low-income families, made tax cuts available to 90% of small businesses, and raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers. Additionally, through the implementation of spending restraints, it mandated the budget be balanced over a number of years.

Travelgate controversy

When several longtime employees of the White House Travel Office were fired, the White House travel office controversy began on May 19, 1993. A whistleblower's letter, written during the previous administration, triggered an FBI investigation, which revealed evidence of financial malfeasance. Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr investigated the firings and found no evidence of wrongdoing on the Clintons' part.

The White House FBI files controversy of June 1996 arose around improper access to FBI security-clearance documents. Craig Livingstone, head of the White House Office of Personnel Security, improperly requested, and received from the FBI, background report files without asking permission of the subject individuals; many of these were employees of former Republican administrations. In March 2000, Independent Counsel Robert Ray determined that there was no credible evidence of any criminal activity. Ray's report further stated "there was no substantial and credible evidence that any senior White House official was involved" in seeking the files.

Death penalty

The application of the federal death penalty was expanded to include crimes not resulting in death, such as running a large-scale drug enterprise, by Clinton’s 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill. During Clinton's re-election campaign he said, "My 1994 crime bill expanded the death penalty for drug kingpins, murderers of federal law enforcement officers, and nearly 60 additional categories of violent felons.

While campaigning for U.S. President, then-Governor Clinton returned to Arkansas to see that Ricky Ray Rector would be executed. After killing a police officer and a civilian, Rector shot himself in the head, leading to what his lawyers said was a state where he could still talk but didn't understand the concept of death. According to Arkansas state and Federal law, a seriously mentally impaired inmate cannot be executed. The courts disagreed with the claim of grave mental impairment and allowed the execution. Clinton's return to Arkansas for the execution was framed in a New York Times article as a possible political move to counter "soft on crime" accusations.

According to some sources Clinton was a death penalty opponent in his early years who switched positions. During Clinton's term, Arkansas performed its first executions since 1964 (the death penalty was re-enacted on March 23, 1973). As Governor, he oversaw four executions: one by electric chair and three by lethal injection. However, Clinton was the first President to pardon a death row inmate since the federal death penalty was reintroduced in 1988. Federal executions were resumed under his successor George W. Bush.

Second term, 1997–2001

In the 1996 presidential election, Clinton was re-elected, receiving 49.2% of the popular vote over Republican Bob Dole (40.7% of the popular vote) and Reform candidate Ross Perot (8.4% of the popular vote), becoming the first Democrat to win presidential reelection since Franklin Roosevelt. The Republicans lost a few seats in the House and gained a few in the Senate, but overall retained control of the Congress. Clinton received 379, or over 70% of the Electoral College votes, with Dole receiving 159 electoral votes.

Lewinsky scandal

The media and prominent Republicans raised controversy over Clinton's relationship with a 22-year-old White House intern named Monica Lewinsky, resulting in the Lewinsky scandal, on January 21, 1998. In a lame duck session after the 1998 elections, for the belief Clinton lied about his relationship with Lewinsky in a sworn deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit, the Republican-controlled House voted to impeach Clinton in 1998, making him the second U.S. president to be impeached after Andrew Johnson.
Impeachment and trial in the Senate
The House held no serious impeachment hearings before the mid-term elections. Though the mid-term elections held in November 1998 were at the 6-year point in an 8-year presidency (a time in the electoral cycle where the party holding the White House usually loses Congressional seats) the Democratic Party gained several seats. To hold impeachment proceedings, the Republican leadership called a lame duck session in December 1998.

While the House Judiciary Committee hearings were perfunctory and ended in a straight party line vote, there was lively debate on the House floor. The two charges passed in the House (largely on the basis of Republican support but with a handful of Democratic votes as well) were for perjury and obstruction of justice. The perjury charge arose from Clinton's testimony about his relationship to Monica Lewinsky during a sexual harassment lawsuit (later dismissed, appealed and settled for $850,000) brought by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones. The obstruction charge was based on his actions during the subsequent investigation of that testimony. The Senate later voted to acquit Clinton on both charges. The Senate refused to convene to hold an impeachment trial before the end of the old term, so the trial was held over until the next Congress. Clinton was represented by Washington law firm Williams & Connolly.

The Senate concluded a twenty-one day trial on February 12, 1999, with the vote on both counts falling short of the Constitutional two-thirds majority requirement to convict and remove an office holder. The final vote was generally along party lines, with no Democrats voting guilty. Some Republicans voted not guilty for both charges. On the perjury charge, fifty five senators voted to acquit, including ten Republicans, and forty five voted to convict; on the obstruction charge the Senate voted 50–50.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Clinton enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act on October 21, 1998. It served as the first significant amendment to the Copyright Act since 1976. The DMCA extended the protection of intellectual property to outlaw reverse engineering of digital protection. It provided a framework for sound recording copyright owners and recording artists to seek public performance royalties under statute, which proved to be a landmark achievement for the recording industry.

Military and foreign events

Three notable military events occurred during Clinton's second term. In Clinton's State of the Union Address, Clinton warned Congress of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's pursuit of nuclear weapons:

Together we must also confront the new hazards of chemical and biological weapons, and the outlaw states, terrorists and organized criminals seeking to acquire them. Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade, and much of his nation's wealth, not on providing for the Iraqi people, but on developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The United Nations weapons inspectors have done a truly remarkable job, finding and destroying more of Iraq's arsenal than was destroyed during the entire gulf war. Now, Saddam Hussein wants to stop them from completing their mission. I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein, "You cannot defy the will of the world," and when I say to him, "You have used weapons of mass destruction before; we are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again.

To weaken Saddam Hussein's grip of power, Clinton signed H.R. 4655 into law on October 31, 1998, which instituted a policy of "regime change" against Iraq, though it explicitly stated it did not speak to the use of American military forces. The administration then launched a four-day bombing campaign named Operation Desert Fox, lasting from December 16 to December 19, 1998.

The Battle of Mogadishu also occurred in Somalia in 1993. During the operation, two U.S. MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by rocket-propelled grenade attacks to their tail rotors, trapping soldiers behind enemy lines. This resulted in an urban battle that killed 18 American soldiers, wounded 73 others, and one was taken prisoner. There were many more Somali casualties. Some of the American bodies were dragged through the streets and broadcasted on television news programs. In response, U.S. forces were withdrawn from Somalia and later conflicts were approached with less soldiers on the ground.

To stop the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Albanians by nationalist Serbians in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's province of Kosovo, Clinton authorized the use of American troops in a NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999, named Operation Allied Force. General Wesley Clark was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and oversaw the mission. With United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, the bombing campaign ended on June 10, 1999. The resolution placed Kosovo under UN administration and authorized a peacekeeping force. NATO claimed to have suffered zero combat deaths, and two deaths from an Apache helicopter crash. Opinions in the popular press criticized pre-war genocide claims by the Clinton administration as greatly exaggerated. A U.N. Court ruled genocide did not take place, but recognized, "a systematic campaign of terror, including murders, rapes, arsons and severe maltreatments". The term "ethnic cleansing" was used as an alternative to "genocide" to denote not just ethnically motivated murder but also displacement, though critics charge there is no difference. Slobodan Milošević, the President of Yugoslavia at the time, was eventually charged with the "murders of about 600 individually identified ethnic Albanians" and "crimes against humanity.

After initial successes such as the Oslo accords of the early 1990s, Clinton attempted to address the Arab-Israeli conflict. Clinton brought Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat together at Camp David. However, the negotiations were ultimately unsuccessful. The situation broke down completely with the start of the Second Intifada.

Clinton became the first president to visit Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War in November 2000. Clinton remained popular with the public throughout his two terms as President, ending his presidential career with a 65% approval rating, the highest end-of-term approval rating of any President since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Clinton also oversaw a boom of the U.S. economy. Under Clinton, the United States had a projected federal budget surplus for the first time since 1969.

Whitewater controversy

The Whitewater controversy was an American political controversy that began with the real estate dealings of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their associates, Jim and Susan McDougal in the Whitewater Development Corporation, a failed business venture in the 1970s and 1980s.

David Hale, the source of criminal allegations against President Bill Clinton in the Whitewater affair, claimed in November 1993 that Bill Clinton, while governor of Arkansas, pressured him to provide an illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, the partner of the Clintons in the Whitewater land deal.

A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation did result in convictions against the McDougals for their role in the Whitewater project, but the Clintons themselves were never charged, and Clinton maintains innocence in the affair.

Law license suspension

In a separate case, Clinton was ordered to pay $25,000 in fines to Arkansas state's bar officials and his Arkansas law license was suspended for five years. The agreement came on the condition that Whitewater prosecutors would not pursue federal perjury charges against him. Clinton was suspended by the Supreme Court in October 2001, and, facing disbarment from that court, Clinton resigned from the Supreme Court bar in November.


Troopergate is the popular name of an alleged scandal involving allegations by two Arkansas state troopers that they arranged sexual liaisons for then-governor Bill Clinton. The allegations by state troopers Larry Patterson and Roger Perry were first reported by David Brock in the American Spectator in 1993. The story mentioned a woman named Paula, a reference to Paula Jones. The troopers were discovered to have been paid for their stories and Brock later admitted journalistic dishonesty and apologized.

Pardons and campaign finance

Clinton issued 141 pardons and 36 commutations on his last day in office on January 20, 2001. Most of the controversy surrounded Marc Rich and allegations that Hillary Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham, accepted payments in return for influencing the president's decision-making regarding the pardons. Some of Clinton's pardons remain a point of controversy.

The 1996 United States campaign finance controversy was an alleged effort by the People's Republic of China (PRC) to influence the domestic policies of the United States, prior to and during the Clinton administration and also involved the fundraising practices of the administration itself.

Legislation and programs

Major legislation signed

Major legislation vetoed

Proposals not passed by Congress


Supreme Court appointments

Clinton appointed the following justices to the Supreme Court:

Public approval

Clinton's job approval rating ranged from 36% in mid-1993 to 64% in late-1993 and early-1994. In his second term, his rating was consistently ranged from the high-50s to the high-60s. After his impeachment proceedings in 1998 and 1999, Clinton's rating reached its highest point at 73% approval. He finished with an approval rating of 68%, which was higher than that of any other departing president since polling began more than seventy years earlier.

As he was leaving office, a CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup poll revealed only 45% said they'd miss him. While 55% thought he "would have something worthwhile to contribute and should remain active in public life", 68% thought he'd be remembered for his "involvement in personal scandal", and 58% answered "No" to the question "Do you generally think Bill Clinton is honest and trustworthy?". 47% of the respondents identified themselves as being Clinton supporters. 47% said he would be remembered as either "outstanding" or "above average" as a president while 22% said he would be remembered as "below average" or "poor".

The Gallup Organization published a poll in February 2007 asking respondents to name the greatest president in U.S. history; Clinton came in fourth place, capturing 13% of the vote. In a 2006 Quinnipiac University poll asking respondents to name the best president since World War II, Clinton ranked 3% behind Ronald Reagan to place second with 25% of the vote. However, in the same poll, when respondents were asked to name the worst president since World War II, Clinton placed 1% behind Nixon and 18% behind George W. Bush to come in third with 16% of the vote.

In May 2006, a CNN poll comparing Clinton's job performance with that of his successor, George W. Bush, found that a strong majority of respondents said Clinton outperformed Bush in six different areas questioned. ABC News characterized public consensus on Clinton as, "You can't trust him, he's got weak morals and ethics and he's done a heck of a good job. Clinton's 65% Gallup Poll approval rating was also the highest Gallup approval rating of any President leaving office.

Public image

As the first Baby Boomer president, Clinton was the first president in a half-century not to have been shaped by World War II. Authors Martin Walker and Bob Woodward state Clinton's innovative use of soundbite-ready dialogue, personal charisma, and public perception-oriented campaigning was major for his high public approval ratings. When Clinton played the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show, Clinton was sometimes described by religious conservatives as "the MTV president.

Clinton was very popular among African Americans and made improving race relations a major theme of his presidency. In 1998, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison called Clinton "the first Black president," saying, "Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas," and comparing Clinton's sex life, scrutinized despite his career accomplishments, to the stereotyping and double standards that blacks typically endure. In 2008, after having endorsed the candidacy of Barack Obama, Morrison distanced herself from her 1998 remark about Clinton, saying that it was misunderstood. She noted that she has "no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race" and claimed she was only describing the way he was being treated during the impeachment trial as an equivalent to a poor black person living in the ghetto.

Standing over 6'2" tall (1.88 m), Clinton was one of the tallest U.S. Presidents in the nation's history.

Sexual misconduct allegations

Throughout his career, Clinton has been subject to various allegations of sexual misconduct, though only his relationship with Lewinsky has been proven. Clinton categorically denies any inappropriate sexual conduct in all cases except the latter, though the Lewinsky affair and other allegations have become fodder for satirists, comedians, and parody in popular media.

For alleged misconduct during his governorship Paula Jones brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton while he was president. However, Jones did not have any clear evidence to support her allegations. On April 2, 1998, Jones' lawsuit was dismissed. After which, Jones tried to file for an appeal In May of 1998, Jones refiled her lawsuit with the US Court of Appeals and alleged Clinton both sexual harassed her and defamed her character. During the depositions for this lawsuit, Clinton denied having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky a denial that became the basis for the impeachment charge of perjury. On November 18, 1998, Clinton agreed to an out-of-court settlement, and agreed to pay Jones and her attorneys a sum of $850,000.00. Clinton, however, still offered no apology to Jones and still denied ever engaging in an a sexual affair with her.

In 1998, Kathleen Willey alleged Clinton sexually assaulted her four years previously. In 1998, Juanita Broaddrick alleged she was raped by Clinton some twenty years previously. The claims by Willey and Broaddrick were never brought before a court. The independent counsel determined Willey gave "false information" to the FBI and inconsistent sworn testimony related to the Jones allegation. Broaddrick's only sworn testimony about Clinton was a previous denial of any harassment by Clinton. Gennifer Flowers, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Sally Perdue and Dolly Kyle Browning – claimed to have had adulterous sexual relations with Clinton during or before his service as governor. Garcen, however, later confessed that she lied and apologized for her actions.

Dolly Kyle Browning alleged that she and Clinton engaged in a long sexual affair between the years of 1959 and 1992. In 1998, like Paula Jones had previously done, Browning sued Clinton for sexual harassment, but her lawsuit was eventually dismissed. In April 2002, Browning tried to file for an appeal, but the US Court of Appeals would deny her appeal.

Post-presidential career

Public speaking and campaigning

Clinton comments on contemporary politics in speaking engagements around the world. One notable theme is his advocacy of multilateral solutions to world problems. Clinton's opened his personal office in the Harlem section of New York City.

After the Clintons moved to Chappaqua, New York, in the northern suburbs of New York City, at the end of his Presidency, he assisted his wife, Hillary Clinton, in her campaign for office as Senator from New York. Clinton campaigned for a number of Democratic candidates for the Senate in the 2002 elections.

Clinton spoke for the fifth consecutive time at the Democratic National Convention on July 26, 2004, praising candidate John Kerry. He said of President George W. Bush's depiction of Kerry, "strength and wisdom are not opposing values." Despite Clinton's speech, the post-convention bounce to Kerry's poll numbers was less than was hoped for.

Mostly to corporations and philanthropic groups in North America and Europe, Clinton has given dozens of paid speeches each year, earning $100,000 to $300,000 per speech. According to his wife’s Senate ethics reports, he earned more than $30 million in speaking from 2001 to 2005. In 2007, it is estimated he amassed around $40 million from speaking.

Clinton made his first visit to new United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in April 2007. The 45-minute meeting, called at Clinton's request, touched on a host of topics, including disease, war, famine and poverty in Africa, especially in the Darfur region. The Middle East, the conflict in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear standoff with the U.N. were on the agenda, as well as HIV/AIDS.

He was the opening speaker at the Ontario Economic Summit held on November 13, 2007 in which he addressed people on various subjects including Canada's role in Afghanistan, environmentalism and access to healthcare.

Clinton served as one of the organizers for the New Baptist Covenant alongside former President Jimmy Carter and other Baptist leaders. This effort sought to bring various Baptists in America together, especially across racial lines, to discuss issues that unite them. Clinton spoke at the January 2008 celebration in Atlanta, GA.

William J. Clinton Presidential Center

Clinton dedicated his presidential library, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 18, 2004. Under rainy skies, Clinton received praise from former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, as well as from president George W. Bush. He was treated to a musical rendition from Bono and The Edge from U2, who expressed their gratitude at Clinton's efforts to resolve the Northern Ireland conflict during his presidency. The Clinton facility received a $10 million dollar donation from the royal family of Saudi Arabia. The library has the largest archives of any presidential library.

Published work

Clinton released a personal autobiography, My Life in 2004. The book was published by the Knopf Publishing Group at Random House on June 22, 2004. According to the publisher, for single day non-fiction book sales, the book set a worldwide record. Later released as an audio book, total sales were in excess of 400,000 copies. As a writer's fee, he received U.S. $12 million in advance.

He released, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World in September 2007, which became a bestseller and gandered positive reviews. The book is about citizen activism and the role of public charity and public service in the modern world. The audiobook version was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the category of Best Spoken Word Album.

William Clinton Foundation

The William J. Clinton Foundation promotes and provides for a number of humanitarian causes. Within the foundation, the Clinton Foundation HIV and AIDS Initiative (CHAI) strives to make treatment for HIV/AIDS more affordable and to implement large-scale integrated care, treatment, and prevention programs. While in Sydney to attend a Global Business Forum, Clinton signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of his presidential foundation with the Australian government to promote HIV/AIDS programs in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), funded by the Clinton Foundation, was inaugurated September September 15-17 2005 in New York City to coincide with the 2005 World Summit. The focus areas of the initiative include attempts to address world problems such as global public health, poverty alleviation and religious and ethnic conflict.

Clinton announced through the William J. Clinton Foundation an agreement by major soft drink manufacturers to stop selling sugared sodas and juice drinks, in public primary and secondary schools within the United States, on May 3, 2005.

Relations with George H. W. Bush

In the aftermath of the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, Clinton established, with fellow former-President George H. W. Bush, the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and Bush-Clinton Tsunami Fund, for which they were awarded the 2006 Philadelphia Liberty Medal on October 5, 2006. They spoke together at the funeral of Boris Yeltsin.

President George W. Bush, to help the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, named Clinton and George H. W. Bush to lead a nationwide campaign on January 3, 2005. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan selected Clinton to head the United Nations earthquake and tsunami relief and reconstruction effort on February 1, 2005.

Five days later, to raise money for relief through the USA Freedom Corps, Clinton and Bush appeared on the Fox Super Bowl XXXIX pre-game show. Thirteen days later, to see the relief efforts, they traveled to the affected areas.

Following the devastation of the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina, Clinton worked with George H. W. Bush to coordinate private relief donations on August 31, 2005, similar to their Indian Ocean tsunami campaign.


To create the Clinton Foundation Climate Change Initiative (CCI), the William J. Clinton Foundation entered into a partnership with the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group on August 1, 2006, agreeing to provide resources to allow the participating cities to enter into an energy-saving product purchasing consortium and to provide technical and communications support.

Clinton criticized the Bush administration for its handling of emissions control while speaking at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal on December 9, 2005. To promote initiatives concerning the environment, Clinton twice visited the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006. First, to advertise the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group, he met with Tony Blair, Ken Livingstone, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Gavin Newsom on August 1, 2006. On October 13, 2006, he spoke in favor of California Proposition 87 on alternative energy, which was voted down.

Personal health

Clinton had an episode of angina and was evaluated at Northern Westchester Hospital on September 2, 2004. It was determined he did not suffer a coronary infarction, and he was sent home, returning the following day for angiography, which disclosed multiple vessel coronary artery disease. He was transferred to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, where he underwent a successful quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery on September 6, 2004. The medical team stated, had he not had surgery, he would have likely suffered a massive heart attack within a few months. As a result of his open-heart surgery, he underwent a follow-up surgery to remove scar tissue and fluid from his left chest cavity on March 10, 2005. He has since recovered.

2008 election involvement

In the course of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign, Clinton vigorously advocated on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton, leading some observers and party members to question the appropriateness of his role in view of his status as a former president. Some felt that Clinton was overshadowing his wife in the campaign, with her presidential rival Barack Obama complaining that he sometimes "did not know which Clinton he was running against. At a MSNBC debate, Republican primary candidate Mitt Romney said that he "can't imagine Bill Clinton left with nothing to do in the White House", suggesting that Clinton would be a "co-president and try and help manage the economy and help manage the world affairs".

Top Democratic Party officials, including Rep. Rahm Emmanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a declared Clinton supporter, asked Clinton to tone down his attacks on Obama following the bitterly contested Nevada caucus, suggesting that Clinton could be damaging his own political capital and global stature. Some commentators even accused the former president of "playing the race card" against Obama, who is half-black, by suggesting he would understand if South Carolina's African Americans naturally would vote for the black candidate, but rejected suggestions that America was not ready for a black President. Many felt that by alienating black voters who had once overwhelmingly supported the Clintons, Clinton had tarnished his legacy as the so-called "first black president." In particular, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) suggested that Clinton's vocal attacks on Obama could damage the former President's legacy. Following his wife's disappointing defeat in South Carolina, Clinton again made headlines when he appeared to undermine and racialize Obama's victory by comparing it to Jesse Jackson's failed 1984 bid for the Presidency. Some observers suggested that the controversial comments fueled Sen. Ted Kennedy's decision to endorse Sen. Obama for the Presidency. Clinton attracted further controversy with a series of attacks against Obama that many independents and former Clinton supporters felt to be unfair. While some believed the attacks might eventually pay off, others felt they would damage Hillary Clinton's presidential prospects and alienate Democratic voters in the general election. Former President Bill Clinton defended his role in the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2008 in South Carolina, disputing claims he made race a campaign issue. According to some reports, the accusations of racism hurt him personally, as blacks had long been Clinton's most loyal supporters.

During the primary campaign, his wife's aides criticized Clinton’s freelancing and deemed his office uncooperative at one point, they complained, his people would not allow one of her people to ride on his plane to campaign stops. His aides, on the other hand, stewed over what they saw as her people’s disregard for the advice of one of this generation’s great political minds and bristled at surrendering control of his schedule. On the night of the Pennsylvania primary, Clinton grew playfully competitive with his wife over who had done more events or had had more impact. Governor Ed Rendell showed Clinton the county-by-county returns, while she was superstitious and rarely watched election night coverage. According to Rendell, “The president wanted to know exactly what the returns were in the places he had been and Hillary hadn’t been. He kept showing Hillary, and she would laugh.”

Due to Clinton's prominent role in his wife's presidential run and his criticism of Obama, many perceived an enduring distance between the two. Clinton was asked later if he thought presidential nominee Barack Obama was qualified to be president. He replied that the Constitution sets qualifications. When pressed as to whether Obama was "ready" to be president, Clinton replied, "You could argue that no one is ready to be president. Such remarks lead to apprehension that the party would be split to the detriment of Obama's election. Fears were allayed August 27, 2008 when Clinton enthusiastically endorsed Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, saying that all his experience as president assures him that Obama is "ready to lead".

Honors and accolades

The President of the Czech Republic awarded Clinton the Order of the White Lion, First Class with Collar Chain in 1998.

From a poll conducted of the American people in December 1999, Clinton was among eighteen included in Gallup's List of Widely Admired People of the 20th century.

Clinton received the 2000 International Charlemagne Prize of the city of Aachen (a prestigious European prize), 2004 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for narrating the Russian National Orchestra's album Wolf Tracks and Peter and the Wolf (along with Mikhail Gorbachev and Sophia Loren) and 2005 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for My Life, 2005 J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding, and 2007 TED Prize (named for the confluence of technology, entertainment and design). On October 17, 2002, Clinton became the first white person to be inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

He received an honorary doctorate of laws from Tulane University in New Orleans (along with George H. W. Bush), and also from the University of Michigan. He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Pace University's Lubin School of Business, from Rochester Institute of Technology, and from Knox College.

On November 22, 2004, New York Republican Governor George Pataki named Clinton and the other living former presidents (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush) as honorary members of the board rebuilding the World Trade Center. In 2005, the University of Arkansas System opened the Clinton School of Public Service on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center.

On December 3, 2006, Clinton was made an honorary chief and Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu by Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Michael Somare. Clinton was awarded the honor for his "outstanding leadership for the good of mankind during two terms as U.S. president" and his commitment to the global fight against HIV/AIDS and other health challenges in developing countries.

On June 2, 2007, Clinton, along with former president George H.W. Bush, received the International Freedom Conductor Award, for their help with the fund raising following the tsunami that devastated South Asia in 2004. On June 13, 2007, Clinton was honored by the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria alongside eight multinational-companies—HBO, Chevron Corporation, Standard Chartered plc, Eli Lilly & Company, Eskom Holdings Ltd, Marathon Oil Corporation, Coca-Cola, and Abbott—for his work to defeat HIV/AIDS.

In Europe, Bill Clinton remains popular, especially in a large part of the Balkans and in Ireland. In Priština, Kosovo, a five-story picture of the former president was permanently engraved into the side of the tallest building in the province as a token of gratitude for Clinton's support during the crisis in Kosovo. A statue of Clinton was also built and a road was named Clinton Boulevard.

On May 1, 1988, Bill Clinton was inducted into the DeMolay International Hall of Fame.

On September 9, 2008, Bill Clinton was named as the next chairman of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His term will begin January 1, 2009, he will succeed Fmr. President George H. W. Bush.

Electoral history



Further reading

Primary sources

Popular books

  • Peter Baker The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton (2000) ISBN 0-684-86813-X
  • James Bovard Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years (2000) ISBN 0-312-23082-6
  • Joe Conason and Gene Lyons The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton (2003) ISBN 0-312-27319-3
  • Elizabeth Drew On the Edge: The Clinton Presidency (1994) ISBN 0-671-87147-1
  • David Gergen Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership. (2000) ISBN 0-684-82663-1
  • Nigel Hamilton Bill Clinton: An American Journey (2003) ISBN 0-375-50610-1
  • John F. Harris The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House (2005) ISBN 0-375-50847-3
  • Christopher Hitchens No One Left to Lie to: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton (1999) ISBN 1-85984-736-6
  • Michael Isikoff Uncovering Clinton: A Reporter's Story (1999) ISBN 0-609-60393-0
  • Mark Katz Clinton and Me: A Real-Life Political Comedy (2004) ISBN 978-0786869497
  • Joe Klein The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton (2003) ISBN 0-7679-1412-0
  • David Maraniss First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton (1996) ISBN 0-684-81890-6
  • David Maraniss The Clinton Enigma: A Four and a Half Minute Speech Reveals This President's Entire Life (1998) ISBN 0-684-86296-4
  • Dick Morris with Eileen McGann Because He Could (2004) ISBN 0-06-078415-6
  • Roger Morris (American writer) Partners in Power: The Clintons and Their America (1996) ISBN 0-89526-302-5
  • Richard A. Posner An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton (1999) ISBN 0-674-00080-3
  • Mark J. Rozell The Clinton Scandal and the Future of American Government (2000) ISBN 0-87840-777-4
  • Michael Waldman POTUS Speaks: Finding the Words That Defined the Clinton Presidency (2000) ISBN 0-7432-0020-9
  • Ivory Tower Publishing Company Achievements of the Clinton Administration: the Complete Legislative and Executive (1995) ISBN 0-88032-748-0

Academic studies

  • Cohen; Jeffrey E. "The Polls: Change and Stability in Public Assessments of Personal Traits, Bill Clinton, 1993-99" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 31, 2001
  • Cronin, Thomas E. and Michael A. Genovese; "President Clinton and Character Questions" Presidential Studies Quarterly Vol. 28, 1998
  • Davis; John. "The Evolution of American Grand Strategy and the War on Terrorism: Clinton and Bush Perspectives" White House Studies, Vol. 3, 2003
  • Edwards; George C. "Bill Clinton and His Crisis of Governance" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 28, 1998
  • Fisher; Patrick. "Clinton's Greatest Legislative Achievement? the Success of the 1993 Budget Reconciliation Bill" White House Studies, Vol. 1, 2001
  • Glad; Betty. "Evaluating Presidential Character" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 28, 1998
  • Harris, John F. The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House. (2005) ISBN 0-375-50847-3, biography
  • William G. Hyland. Clinton's World: Remaking American Foreign Policy (1999) ISBN 0-275-96396-9
  • Jewett, Aubrey W. and Marc D. Turetzky; " Stability and Change in President Clinton's Foreign Policy Beliefs, 1993-96" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 28, 1998
  • Johnson, Fard. "Politics, Propaganda and Public Opinion: The Influence of Race and Class on the 1993 - 1994 Health Care Reform Debate." (2004). ISBN 1-4116-6345-4
  • Laham, Nicholas, A Lost Cause: Bill Clinton's Campaign for National Health Insurance (1996)
  • Lanoue, David J. and Craig F. Emmert; "Voting in the Glare of the Spotlight: Representatives' Votes on the Impeachment of President Clinton" Polity, Vol. 32, 1999
  • Livingston, C. Don, Kenneth A. Wink; "The Passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the U.S. House of Representatives: Presidential Leadership or Presidential Luck?" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, 1997
  • Maurer; Paul J. "Media Feeding Frenzies: Press Behavior during Two Clinton Scandals" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 29, 1999
  • Nie; Martin A. "'It's the Environment, Stupid!': Clinton and the Environment" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, 1997
  • O'Connor; Brendon. "Policies, Principles, and Polls: Bill Clinton's Third Way Welfare Politics 1992-1996" The Australian Journal of Politics and History, Vol. 48, 2002
  • Poveda; Tony G. "Clinton, Crime, and the Justice Department" Social Justice, Vol. 21, 1994
  • Renshon; Stanley A. The Clinton Presidency: Campaigning, Governing, and the Psychology of Leadership Westview Press, 1995
  • Renshon; Stanley A. "The Polls: The Public's Response to the Clinton Scandals, Part 1: Inconsistent Theories, Contradictory Evidence" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 32, 2002
  • Rushefsky, Mark E. and Kant Patel. Politics, Power & Policy Making: The Case of Health Care Reform in the 1990s (1998) ISBN 1-56324-956-1
  • Schantz, Harvey L. Politics in an Era of Divided Government: Elections and Governance in the Second Clinton Administration (2001) ISBN 0-8153-3583-0
  • Wattenberg; Martin P. "The Democrats' Decline in the House during the Clinton Presidency: An Analysis of Partisan Swings" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 29, 1999
  • Wattier; Mark J. "The Clinton Factor: The Effects of Clinton's Personal Image in 2000 Presidential Primaries and in the General Election" White House Studies, Vol. 4, 2004
  • Smithers, Luken J. "The Miracle Whip"

External links


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