Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe
III on August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States,
serving from 1993 to 2001. Clinton served five terms as the Governor
of Arkansas. His wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is presently the
junior U.S. Senator from New York.
regarded as a moderate and a member of the moderate New Democrat
wing of the Democratic Party, he headed the centrist Democratic
Leadership Council in 1990 and 1991. During his tenure as president,
his domestic priorities included efforts to create a universal
healthcare system, to improve education, to restrict handgun sales,
to balance the federal budget, to strengthen environmental regulations,
to improve race relations, and to protect the jobs of workers
during pregnancy or medical emergency.
domestic agenda also included other themes such as reforming welfare
programs, expanding the "War on Drugs", and increasing
law enforcement funding. Internationally, his priorities included
reducing trade barriers, preventing nuclear proliferation, and
mediating the Northern Ireland peace process and Israeli-Palestinian
was the third-youngest president, behind Theodore Roosevelt (the
youngest) and John F. Kennedy (the youngest elected). He was the
first baby boomer president and the first Democratic president
to be re-elected since Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. The Clinton/Gore
ticket of 1992 was the youngest in history, with a combined age
of 90 (Clinton was 46, Vice Presidential nominee Al Gore was 44).
was one of only two Presidents in American history to be impeached,
and was acquitted by a vote of the United States Senate on February
12, 1999. In both runs for the Presidency of the USA, Clinton
never received a majority of the popular vote, though he ended
his Presidential career with a 65% approval rating, the highest
end-of-term approval rating of any President in the post-Eisenhower
Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III; in Hope, Arkansas,
and raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was named after his father,
William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., a traveling salesman who had been
killed in an auto accident three months before his son was born.
His mother, born Virginia Dell Cassidy (1923–1994), remarried
in 1950 to Roger Clinton. Roger Clinton owned an automobile dealership
business with his brother, Raymond Clinton.
young Billy, as he was called, was raised by his mother and stepfather,
assuming his last name "Clinton" throughout elementary
school, but not formally changing it until he was 14. Clinton
grew up in a traditional, albeit blended, family; however, according
to Clinton, his stepfather was a gambler and an alcoholic who
regularly abused Clinton's mother, and sometimes Clinton's half-brother
was a member of the Masonic Youth Order of DeMolay, but never
became a Freemason.
was an excellent student and a talented saxophonist. He considered
dedicating his life to music, but a visit to the White House of
President John F. Kennedy, following his election as a Boys Nation
Senator, led him to pursue a career in politics.
received a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (B.S.F.S.) degree
from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown
University in Washington D.C., where he became a brother of Alpha
Phi Omega, worked for Senator J. William Fulbright, was elected
to Phi Beta Kappa and won a Rhodes Scholarship to the University
of Oxford, (University College) in England. While at Oxford he
played rugby union as a lock, later in life he played for The
Little Rock Rugby club in his home state of Arkansas.
attending Oxford, Clinton obtained a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree
from Yale Law School in 1973. While at Yale, he met a classmate
who would eventually be his wife, Hillary Rodham; the couple married
in 1975. Their only child, Chelsea, was born in 1980.
In 1974, his first year as a University of Arkansas law professor,
Clinton ran for the House of Representatives. The incumbent, John
Paul Hammerschmidt, defeated Clinton with 52% of the vote. In
1976, Clinton was elected Attorney General of Arkansas without
opposition in the general election.
1978, Bill Clinton was first elected governor of the state of
Arkansas, the youngest to be elected governor since 1938. His
first term was fraught with difficulties, including an unpopular
motor vehicle tax and popular anger over the escape of Cuban prisoners
(from the Mariel boatlift) detained in Fort Chafee in 1980.
the 1980 election, Clinton was defeated in his bid for a second
term by Republican challenger Frank D. White. As he once joked,
he was the youngest ex-governor in the nation's history. But in
1982, Clinton won his old job back, and over the next decade helped
Arkansas transform its economy. He became a leading figure among
the New Democrats, a branch of the Democratic Party that called
for welfare reform, smaller government, and other ideas that reached
out to Democrats and Republicans alike.
approach mollified conservative criticism during his terms as
governor. However, 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
of any kind were made against either of the Clintons growing out
of their Arkansas years.
Clinton's first foray into national politics occurred when he
was enlisted to speak at the 1988 Democratic National Convention,
introducing candidate Michael Dukakis. Clinton's address, scheduled
to last 15 minutes, lasted over half an hour. Toward the end of
the speech, conventioneers began chanting “Get off!”
The speech drew cheers only when Clinton uttered the words, “in
conclusion.” Clinton later poked fun at himself on Johnny
Carson's Tonight Show by saying that the speech "had not
been my finest hour, not even my finest hour and a half."
years later, Clinton prepared for a run in 1992 against incumbent
President George H. W. Bush. In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf
War, Bush seemed unbeatable, and several potential Democratic
candidates — notably New York Governor Mario Cuomo —
passed on what seemed to be a lost cause. Clinton won the Democratic
chose U.S. Senator Albert A. Gore Jr. (D-Tennessee) to be his
running mate on July 9, 1992. Initially this decision sparked
criticism from strategists due to the fact that Gore was from
Clinton's neighboring state of Tennessee which would go against
the popular strategy of balancing a Southern candidate with a
Northern partner. In retrospect, many now view Gore as a helpful
factor in the 1992 campaign.
character issues were raised during the campaign, including allegations
that Clinton had dodged the draft during the Vietnam War, and
had used marijuana, which Clinton claimed he had pretended to
smoke, but "didn't inhale". Allegations of extramarital
affairs and shady business deals were also raised. Clinton displayed
the resiliency in the face of scandal that would later be pivotal
in his presidency. As the candidate with the most money and the
best-articulated campaign strategy — creating more jobs
— Clinton was able to stay in the race the longest, fending
off all rivals long before the Democratic convention.
Clinton won the 1992 presidential election (43.01% of the vote)
against Republican 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), largely on a platform focusing on domestic issues; a large
part of his success was due to George H.W. Bush's steep decline
in public approval. Previously described as "unbeatable"
due to his approval ratings in the 80 percent range during the
Persian Gulf conflict, Bush saw his public approval rating drop
to just over 40% by election time.
victory came about for several reasons. The recession of 1992
caused job losses in the white collar sector, and this fueled
strong discontent with Bush, who to many voters seemed out of
touch, and overly focused on foreign affairs. By contrast, the
highly telegenic Clinton appeared to voters as sympathetic, and
more in touch with ordinary families.
reneging on his promise not to raise taxes was exploited by the
Clinton campaign. In his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention
of 1988, Bush had famously proclaimed: "Read my lips ...
No new taxes." Clinton repeatedly condemned Bush's failure
to keep this promise. His campaign ran ads hinting that the failure
reflected on Bush's character.
Bush's coalition was in disarray. Ross Perot's independent campaign
played to moderates' concerns about the budget deficit, siphoning
crucial swing votes from Bush. Previously, conservatives had been
united by anti-communism; with the end of the Cold War, old rivalries
re-emerged. The Republican Convention of 1992 was dominated by
evangelical Christians, and this alarmed some moderate voters,
who thought the Republican Party had been taken over by religious
this worked in Clinton's favor. Clinton could point to his moderate,
'New Democrat' record as Governor of Arkansas. Liberal Democrats
were impressed by Clinton's academic credentials, his 1960s-era
protest record, and support for social causes such as a woman's
right to abortion. The Reagan Democrats who had supported Reagan
and Bush in previous elections switched their allegiance to the
more moderate candidate, Clinton.
was the first Democrat to serve two full terms as president since
Franklin D. Roosevelt. His election ended an era in which the
Republican party had controlled the White House for 12 consecutive
years, and for 20 of the previous 24 years. That election also
brought the Democrats full control of the political branches of
the federal government, including both houses of U.S. Congress
as well as the presidency, for the first time since the administration
of the last Democratic president, Jimmy Carter.
events of the first term
Shortly after taking office, Clinton fulfilled a campaign promise
by signing the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which required
large employers to allow their employees to take unpaid leave
because of pregnancy or serious medical condition. While this
action was popular, Clinton's initial reluctance to fulfill another
campaign promise relating to the acceptance of openly homosexual
members of the military garnered criticism from both the left
(for being too tentative in promoting gay rights) and the right
(for being too insensitive to military life).
the campaign, Clinton had promised to lift the ban on gays serving
their country. Instead, after much debate, Clinton implemented
the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which still remains
in effect, stating that homosexual men and women may serve in
the military as long as their sexuality is kept secret; heterosexual
soldiers are under no such restrictions. By 1999, Clinton said
he didn't "think any serious person could say" that
the policy was not "out of whack". Some gay rights advocates
criticized Clinton for not going far enough and accused him of
making his campaign promise simply to get votes and contributions.
advocates felt Clinton should have integrated the military by
executive order, noting that President Harry S Truman ended segregation
of the armed forces in that manner. Clinton's defenders argued
that an executive order might have prompted the then-Democrat-controlled
Senate to write the exclusion of gays into law, potentially making
it even harder to integrate the military in the future.
pushed another controversial issue during this period: that of
free trade. In 1993, Clinton supported the North American Free
Trade Agreement for ratification by the US Senate. Despite being
negotiated by his Republican predecessor, Clinton (along with
most of his Democratic Leadership Committee allies) strongly supported
free trade measures. Though the measure was opposed by some anti-trade
Republicans, most of the opposition came from protectionist Democrats
and supporters of Ross Perot. Ultimately, the treaty was ratified,
a major legislative victory.
also signed into law the Brady Bill, which imposes a five-day
waiting period on handgun purchases so that background checks
can be done to help keep handguns away from criminals. President
Clinton expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits
working class families with dependent children.
most important item on Clinton's legislative agenda, however,
was a complex health care reform plan, the result of a taskforce
headed by Hillary Clinton, 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. Despite his party holding a
majority in the House and Senate, 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.
months later, after two years of Democratic party control under
Clinton's leadership, the mid-term elections in 1994 proved disastrous
for the Democrats. They lost control of both houses of Congress
for the first time in 40 years, in large part due to the failed
attempt to create a comprehensive health care system.
events of the second term
After the 1994 election, the spotlight shifted to the Contract
with America spearheaded by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
This initiative presented a blanket of traditional Republican
proposals, plus a number of anti-corruption measures. Without
a friendly legislative body, Clinton shifted from pushing new
policy to blocking the Republican (GOP) agenda.
August of 1993, Clinton had signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation
Act of 1993 which passed Congress without a single Republican
vote. It significantly raised taxes on the top 2% of taxpayers,
without providing middle class tax cuts as he promised during
the campaign. But more importantly, it mandated that the budget
be balanced over a number of years, and put spending restraints
in place. The Republicans objected vociferously, claiming that
it would wreck the economy. In November of 1994, the Republicans
took control of the House of Representatives. They were furious
at being strait jacketed into spending cuts by the bill, but they
couldn't ignore it without appearing to be softer on deficit spending
than the Democrats.
1996, the GOP passed a budget with significant spending cuts thinking
that Clinton could either sign the bill (a major political defeat)
or veto it (resulting in a shutdown of most government services).
GOP leaders believed that their recently energized supporters
would stand with them, while the shutdown would be blamed on Clinton's
veto of the spending bills. Clinton instead vetoed the bills and
staged a media blitz, rallying his constituencies to blame the
shutdown on the Republicans.
public largely agreed with Clinton's interpretation of the situation,
and the Republicans suffered a major political defeat. The perception
that the congressional Republicans were dangerous radicals stayed
with them for the remainder of the Clinton presidency, and Clinton
repeatedly made skillful use of this perception to pass his initiatives
while blocking theirs.
cleverly managed the other major challenge posed by the Contract
with America: that of welfare reform. The welfare system, unpopular
with middle-class voters, was a major target of the Republicans.
However, rather than present the programs as inefficient, bureaucratic
and expensive, as they had (unsuccessfully) done in the past,
their new tactic was to focus on the success of welfare in its
stated goal: fighting poverty. In this they were more successful.
Using statistics often compiled by welfare advocates to demand
more spending, they pointed to a widening gap between rich and
poor and the emergence of a dependent welfare "underclass."
their proposed welfare reform, individuals could not receive benefits
for more than five years. States, meanwhile, would receive "block
grants" of federal funds that they would be free to spend
on anti-poverty initiatives as they wished, rather than according
to federal rules. This amounted to a major shift in welfare policy,
and was bitterly contested by Democrats. Clinton, however, supported
the plan (to the fury and astonishment of even some members of
his Cabinet). In his 1996 State of the Union speech, Clinton promised
to "end welfare as we know it". He later signed the
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996.
proved to be a major political victory, and a vindication of his
strategy of "triangulation." Republicans were robbed
of the issue with which they were getting the best traction, while
Clinton was presented as a fair-minded, mainstream moderate. In
the 1996 presidential election a few months later, 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). The Republicans lost a few seats,
but overall retained control of the Congress.
1998, as a result of allegations that he had lied during grand
jury testimony regarding his relationship with a young female
White House intern (Monica Lewinsky), Clinton was the second U.S.
president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He
was tried in the Senate and acquitted of the charges brought against
him. Clinton initially denied having any improper relationship
it was revealed that investigators had obtained a semen-stained
dress as well as testimony from Lewinsky, Clinton admitted that
an improper relationship with Lewinsky had taken place. He apologized
to the nation for his actions, agreed to pay a $25,000 court fine,
settled his sexual harassment lawsuit with Paula Jones for $850,000
and was disbarred from practicing law in Arkansas and before the
U.S. Supreme Court. He was not tried for nor found guilty of perjury
in a court.
the closing year of his Administration, Clinton attempted to address
the Arab-Israeli conflict. After initial successes such as the
Oslo accords of the early 90's, the situation had quietly deteriorated,
breaking down completely with the start of the Second Intifada.
Clinton brought Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian
Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat together at Camp David. However,
these negotiations proved unsuccessful.
charged Clinton with trying to "shoot the moon" to benefit
his historical legacy, but instead making the situation worse
with a botched negotiation. Supporters consider Clinton to have
attempted to address new tensions from the recent outbreak of
violence at its root causes, and that Clinton can hardly be blamed
for a centuries-old conflict. Some further argue that Arafat's
decision to walk away from an offer that supposedly contained
all of his previously stated demands freed the US to pursue a
tougher policy in later years.
occasional political troubles, Clinton remained popular with the
American people. In addition to his political skills, Clinton
also benefited from a very skillful management of the US economy.
In 1999, the United States had a projected federal budget surplus
for the first time since 1969. By 1998 it was a $70 billion budget
surplus. While Clinton, Congress and the private sector have all
been given credit at different times, this economic success was
a source of immense political strength for Clinton. He remained
popular through and beyond the end of his terms in office.
During Clinton's tenure, the U.S. enjoyed continuous economic
expansion, reductions in unemployment, and growing wealth through
a massive rise in the stock market. The economic boom ended in
Q1, 2000, 10 months before his term ended in January, 2001, possibly
indicative of a stock market bubble. Although the reasons for
the expansion are continually debated, Clinton proudly pointed
to a number of economic accomplishments, including:
than 22 million new jobs
Homeownership rate increase from 64.0% to 67.5%
Lowest unemployment rate in 30 years
Higher incomes at all levels
Largest budget deficit in American history converted to the largest
surplus of over $200 billion
Lowest government spending as a percentage of GDP since 1974
Higher stock ownership by families than ever before
220% increase in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 300% increase
in the Nasdaq from 1993 to 2001
reasons for this growth are hotly debated, but Clinton supporters
cite his 1993 tax increase as the reason that eventually led to
the reduction in the annual budget deficits every year of his
tenure. These deficit reductions stimulated consumption and consumer
spending and strengthened the dollar, which encouraged foreign
investment in the United States economy. Alan Greenspan supported
the 1993 tax increase, which was approved by Congress without
a single Republican vote.
of Clinton point to Alan Greenspan's strong chairmanship of the
Federal Reserve, 1995 spending cuts and the Republican Party's
Contract with America initiatives as alternative reasons for America's
strong economic growth of the late 90's. Critics also argue that
the economic recovery had already begun before Bill Clinton took
office and did not pick up momentum until 1995 and 1996, after
the GOP took over Congress (despite the fact that GDP growth was
higher in 1994 than in either 1995 or 1996). Many economists attribute
massive growth to the dot-com boom which just happened to come
during Clinton's term, thus adding many new jobs which may not
be directly attributed to policies of the Clinton administration.
Clinton strongly supported the NAFTA, the North American Free
Trade Agreement. Initiated during the tenure of his predecessor,
George H.W. Bush, it was passed by the United States Congress
in 1993, after Clinton and Gore lobbied heavily for it.
Clinton administration used the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights thirteen times and prevailed
in the WTO thirteen times.
Clinton deployed the U.S. military hesitantly several times under
hostile circumstances. In 1993, U.S. troops, initially deployed
to Somalia by the Bush administration, fought the Battle of Mogadishu
which attempted to capture local warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.
The Clinton administration withdrew U.S. troops after suffering
19 deaths and 73 wounded at the hands of Somalia militiaman. These
militia were later proved to have been trained by the Al Qaida
terrorist network. In 1994, Clinton sent U.S. troops into Haiti
to restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president, ending a period
of intense violence.
who had been elected, had been ousted in a coup just seven months
into his term in 1991. Clinton also committed troops twice in
the former-Yugoslavia to stop ethnic violence, most notably in
Kosovo. In addition, Clinton launched military strikes on Iraq
several times to punish violations of UN sanctions and an attempt
to have former President George H. W. Bush assassinated. Clinton
did not intervene militarily to end the Rwandan genocide, a decision
he later regarded as a "personal failure".
1994, Clinton negotiated and signed the Nuclear Accords with North
Korea. The underlying concern was that North Korea was developing
nuclear weapons technology under the guise of a nuclear power
plant. In exchange for assistance with energy needs, North Korea
agreed to abandon all ambitions for acquiring nuclear weapons.
However, by the mid 1990s defectors from North Korea, along with
reports from the IAEA, indicated that North Korea was violating
both the Nuclear Accords and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In December 2002, North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors from its
Yongbyon nuclear facility, and announced (privately in 2003 and
publicly in 2005), that they possessed nuclear weapons.
November, 1995, Clinton committed troops to the Balkans saying
the mission would be “precisely defined with clear realistic
goals” that could be achieved in a “definite period
of time". Clinton assured Americans the mission would take
about one year. In October 1996, shortly before Clinton's reelection,
the Clinton Administration denied any change in the plans to withdraw
troops in December, 1996. However, shortly after reelection, Clinton
announced troops would stay longer. Troops ultimately stayed in
Bosnia for nine years.
February 17, 1998, Clinton gave a speech signaling the danger
of rogue nations providing weapons of mass destruction to terrorist
organizations with global reach. Clinton specifically pointed
to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. In August 1998 UN weapons inspectors
left Iraq, leading to Operation Desert Fox in December.
Clinton's tenure, Al-Qaeda began to emerge as a major terrorist
threat. In 1993, Al Qaeda bombed the World Trade Center. In 1998,
the group bombed the American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
In retaliation, Clinton ordered Operation Infinite Reach, which
involved cruise missile strikes on terrorist camps in Kandahar,
Afghanistan and a suspected chemical weapons facility in Khartoum,
Sudan that was believed to be tied to bin Laden. Clinton also
gave orders authorizing the arrest or, if need be, assassination
of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
the end of his term, in late 2000, the terrorists struck again
with the USS Cole bombing. In 2004, Clinton said he regarded Al-Qaeda
as the foremost threat to national security. In the wake of the
September 11, 2001 attacks, the independent investigating commission
was critical of Clinton for focusing more on diplomatic than military
means to eliminate the bin Laden threat.
critics argue that the American attacks in Kosovo, Somalia, Bosnia,
Sudan, and Afghanistan violated international law.
his presidency, Clinton identified his proudest foreign policy
accomplishments as mediating peace talks between Israel and the
PLO, resulting in the Oslo Accords (1993). Subsequent events,
including the collapse of the 2000 Camp David Summit and the commencement
of the al-Aqsa Intifada, resulted in the Oslo Accords being widely
discredited within Israel and in various Palestinian factions
identified his major foreign policy failure as lack of response
to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Along with the United Nations,
the Clinton administration initially did not publicly acknowledge
that genocide was occurring. This delayed the mandatory response
to the crisis and nearly one million people died. A report from
the Organization for African Unity singled out the United Nations,
Belgium, France and United States for condemnation.
1998, Clinton went to Africa where he said he "did not fully
appreciate the depth and speed with which you were being engulfed
by this unimaginable terror. A report from the National Security
Archive showed that Clinton Administration had collected considerable
amounts of information during the crisis and it was passed up
to policymakers. In 2005, the former President apologized for
his "personal failure" to stop the genocide.
In 1999, Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of
justice by the U.S. House of Representatives. He was acquitted
by the Senate. The perjury charge arose from Clinton's testimony
about his relationship to Monica Lewinsky during a sexual harassment
lawsuit brought by former Arkansas-state employee Paula Jones.
The obstruction charge was based on his actions during the subsequent
investigation of that testimony. On February 12, the Senate concluded
a 21-day trial with the vote on both counts falling short of the
Constitutional requirement of a two-thirds majority to convict
and remove an office holder.
final vote was generally along party lines, with all of the votes
to convict being cast by Republicans. On the perjury charge 55
senators voted to acquit, including 10 Republicans, and 45 voted
to convict; on the obstruction charge the Senate voted 50-50.
Clinton, like the only other president to be impeached, Andrew
Johnson, served the remainder of his term.
day before leaving office, Clinton agreed to a five-year suspension
of his Arkansas law license as part of an agreement with the independent
counsel to end the investigation. Based on this suspension, Clinton
was also automatically suspended from the United States Supreme
Court bar, from which he chose to resign. Clinton's resignation
was mostly symbolic, as he had never practiced before the Supreme
Court and was not expected to in the future. Clinton also was
assessed a $90,000 fine by federal judge Susan Webber Wright for
contempt of court. The Paula Jones lawsuit was settled out of
court for $850,000.
addition to impeachment and the Whitewater scandal, the Clinton
White House was the subject of many other controversies.
White House travel office controversy involved allegations of
impropriety in the firing of civil service staffers. The White
House personnel file controversy involved improper access by security
officials to FBI files on White House personnel, without first
asking for the individuals' permission. The Bill Clinton pardons
controversy involved a grant of clemency to FALN bombers in 1999
and pardons to his brother Roger, tax-evading billionaire Marc
Rich and others in 2001 (see List of people pardoned by Bill Clinton).
"Chinagate" controversy involved allegations of improper
campaign contributions to President Clinton's legal defense fund
and the Democratic National Committee, by individuals such as
John Huang, James Riady, and Maria Hsia, et al. Allegedly, the
ultimate source of this money was the Chinese government. Seventeen
donors and fund-raisers were convicted of felonies due to the
in his first-term, a largely discredited documentary, the Clinton
Chronicles, implicated Bill Clinton in a large number of deaths
of his acquaintences. This also became known as the "Clinton
Body Count" and was the subject of a request for Congressional
hearings in 1994. As many as 60 people were on this list of "suspicious
deaths" including Jim McDougal, Vince Foster and Ron Brown.
March, 1998 Kathleen Willey, a White House aide, alleged that
Clinton had sexually assaulted her. Also in 1998, Juanita Broaddrick
alleged that Clinton had raped her in 1978. No charges were filed
in either case.
of Agriculture Mike Espy was acquitted on each of 30 charges of
illegally accepting gifts such as sports tickets, lodging, and
transportation from companies regulated by his department in exchange
for favors. HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts
of conspiracy, giving false statements and obstruction of Justice.
He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of lying to the FBI about the
amount of money he gave his mistress, political fundraiser Linda
Medlar. Medlar plead guilty to 28 counts related to the investigation.
Both Medlar and Cisneros were pardoned by Clinton.
Clinton's last day in office, he pardoned over 200 convicted felons,
including his brother Roger, who was imprisoned on drug charges
and Dan Rostenkowski, the former Chairman of House Ways and Means
Committee who had been convicted on corruption and mail fraud
charges. Another one of those pardoned was Marc Rich, a financier
who had fled the United States decades before for tax evasion
and other illegal activities including buying illegal oil from
the Islamic Republic of Iran. Rich fled the country before being
indicted and never saw a day of trial or incarcaration. Many questioned
the pardon, stating that Rich's wife Denise had pleaded with the
president for years to pardon her ex-husband and that she personally
donated money to his presidential library in exchange for a pardon
for her husband. These actions quickly led to public hearings
by congress into the legality of all of Clinton's presidential
was criticized by those on the left for his practice of "co-opting"
Republican policies, and "triangulating" himself. The
triangulation practice would make the public see Clinton on "top"
of a triangle, putting himself "above" the Republicans
and Democrats. The theory was that Clinton was, in his eyes, "doing
the business of the American people", and not getting involved
in partisan politics. He always stressed he was being bipartisan,
but in the end many progressives concluded that he was simply
policies that he supported and passed while he was president were
NAFTA, GATT, welfare reform, more crimes eligible for the death
penalty, the Defense of Marriage Act, and deregulating the telecommunications
industry. He dropped a nominee, Lani Guinier, from a key civil
rights post because of her Black Power ideological views. Progressives
like Ralph Nader and union leaders complained that Clinton's enthusiastic
support of free trade cost the Democrats the Congress in 1994.
They argued he alienated working class voters and the party's
traditional liberal base, and these voters figured that neither
the Republicans nor the Democrats cared very much for them.
"vast right-wing conspiracy" charge
The Clinton Administration was the subject of many investigations
and accusations of misconduct and illegality. Led by a network
of largely conservative talk radio media outlets, including Rush
Limbaugh, and television commentators such as FOX NEWS' Sean Hannity,
Geraldo Rivera, and Bill O'Reilly, accusations of corruption,
murder and dishonesty were made against Clinton and his administration
efforts such as the Arkansas Project funded by wealthy conservatives
such as Pittsburgh banking heir Richard Mellon Scaife went about
trying to find suggestions of wrongdoing in Clinton's past and
publicizing allegations. On NBCs "Today Show," Hillary
Rodham Clinton described this informal network as a "vast
right-wing conspiracy." She was ridiculed by conservative
media networks for the statement, but former conservative journalist
David Brock has described in books his own involvement in exaggerating
claims against the Clintons and the network of conservative media
operations that kept such accusations at the forefront of the
November 3, 1992 - Clinton is elected, defeating Republican incumbent
George H.W. Bush and billionaire businessman H. Ross Perot.
January 20, 1993 - First inauguration.
February 26, 1993 - World Trade Center terrorist attack. The World
Trade Center bombing killed 6 and injured over 1,000 people.
April 19, 1993 - A government siege of the Branch Davidian compound
at Waco, Texas, results in the deaths of 80 people when a cult
leader allegedly sets fire to his own compound. Clinton and Attorney
General Janet Reno receive criticism for mishandling the stand-off.
July 20, 1993 - Clinton friend and confidant Vince Foster is found
dead of a gunshot wound; later determined to be suicide.
September 13, 1993 - Clinton brings together Israeli Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin and Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization
Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn.
October 3, 1993 - Battle of Mogadishu - Ranger Units receive heavy
casualties in Somalia (the Black Hawk Down incident).
January 14, 1994 - Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin
sign the Kremlin accords which stop the preprogrammed aiming of
nuclear missiles to targets and also provide for the dismantling
of the nuclear arsenal in Ukraine.
November 8, 1994 - Republicans elected to majorities in both houses
April 19, 1995 - Oklahoma City bombing - Terrorist bombing of
federal building in Oklahoma City results in the deaths of 168
people, 19 of whom were children.
November 14, 1995 - Budget negotiations between Congress and Clinton
break down, resulting in a temporary shutdown of the federal government
until November 19. A longer shutdown will last from mid-December
1995 until early January 1996.
November 1995 - Clinton organizes peace talks for Bosnia and Herzegovina
at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, eventually resulting
in the Dayton Agreement.
December, 1995 - Clinton visits Ireland, leading to the establishment
of an International Commission chaired by former U.S. Senator
George J. Mitchell.
June 25, 1996 - Khobar Towers bombing a powerful truck bomb exploded
outside the Khobar Towers barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, tearing
the front from the building, blasting a crater 35 feet deep, and
killing 19 American soldiers.
November 5, 1996 - Clinton is reelected, defeating Republican
challenger Bob Dole and Reform Party founder H. Ross Perot.
January 20, 1997 - Second inauguration.
October 1997 - Visit by President of the People's Republic of
China Jiang Zemin to the White House.
August, 1998 - Clinton orders cruise missile strikes on Afghanistan
to hit a suspected chemical weapons factory in Sudan, suspected
to be funded by Osama Bin Laden. Critics cried "wag the dog"
and suggested the bombing was intended to divert attention from
Monica Lewinsky's testimony before a grand jury about her relationship
with Clinton, which happened at roughly the same time.
August 17, 1998 - Clinton testifies before a grand jury about
his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. In the evening, he delivers
a nationally televised address in which he describes the relationship
as "not appropriate" but also "nobody's business."
(See Clinton impeachment.)
December 19, 1998 - Clinton is impeached by the House of Representatives
on grounds of perjury and obstruction of justice. (See Clinton
January 7, 1999 - The trial of Clinton in the Senate begins. (See
February 12, 1999 - Clinton is acquitted of all charges by the
March 24 to June 10, 1999 - NATO bombs Kosovo and Serbia. (See
May 7, 1999 - U.S. planes accidentally bomb China's embassy in
Belgrade. (See Kosovo War.)
June 10, 1999 - Serbia hands control of Kosovo to the United Nations.
(See Kosovo War.)
November 1, 1999 - Visited Norway to participate in a Memorial
sermon in Oslo in respect of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak
October 5, 2000 - The defeat of Slobodan Miloševic in earlier
elections leads to mass demonstrations in Belgrade and the ultimate
collapse of the regime's authority. Opposition leader Vojislav
Koštunica takes office as the Yugoslavian president the next
day. (See Kosovo War.)
January 20, 2001 - Leaves office at the end of second term.
While Clinton's job approval rating varied over the course of
his first term, ranging from a low of 36 percent in 1993 to a
high of 64 percent in 1993 and 1994, his job approval rating consistently
ranged from the high 50s to the high 60s in his second term, with
a high of 73 percent approval in 1998 and 1999. A CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup
poll conducted as he was leaving office, revealed deeply contradictory
attitudes regarding Clinton. Although his approval rating at 68
percent was higher than that of any other departing president
since polling began more than seven decades earlier, only 45 percent
said they would miss him.
55 percent thought he "would have something worthwhile to
contribute and should remain active in public life", and
47 percent rated him as either outstanding or above average as
a president, 68 percent thought he would be remembered for his
"involvement in personal scandal" rather than his accomplishments
as president, and 58 percent answered "No" to the question
"Do you generally think Bill Clinton is honest and trustworthy?"
47 percent of the respondents identified themselves as being Clinton
As the first Baby Boomer president, Clinton was the first president
in a half century not shaped by World War II. With his sound-bite-ready
dialogue and pioneering use of pop culture in his campaigning
(he appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show playing his saxophone during
the 1992 campaign), Clinton was described, often negatively, as
the "MTV president". Clinton clearly came across as
popular to young people. Until his inauguration as president,
he had earned substantially less money than his wife, and had
the smallest net worth of any president in modern history, according
to My Life, Clinton's autobiography. Clinton was strikingly popular
among African-Americans and made improving race relations a major
theme of his presidency.
couple was a political partnership unknown since Franklin and
Eleanor Roosevelt. Many jokes implied that Hillary was the real
President of the United States.
conservatives were put off by the impression of Clinton having
been a "hippie" during the late 1960s, his coming-of-age
era. In the 1960s, however, Clinton might not have been viewed
as such by many of those in the hippie subculture. Clinton avoided
the draft with a student deferment while studying abroad during
the Vietnam War. Clinton's marijuana experimentation, clumsily
excused by Clinton's statement that he "didn't inhale"
further tarnished his image with some voters. In terms of policy
Clinton was to the right of most recent Democratic candidates
for the presidency on many issues - he supported the death penalty,
curfews, uniforms in public schools, and other measures opposed
by youth rights supporters, and he expanded the War on Drugs greatly
while in office.
Starting from 1992 Presidential election campaign, rumors about
Clinton's adultery were floating about, and these surfaced and
increased with Paula Jones' accusations of sexual harassment.
After allegations had linked him to Jones, Gennifer Flowers, and
Kathleen Willey, Clinton's sex life would become the focus of
his public image when, in January 1998, recorded conversations
by Linda Tripp contained statements by White House intern Monica
Lewinsky about having oral sex.
Clinton's warmth, curiosity and openness unite to create an intense
personal charm, but his character and policies were viewed with
intense, personal dislike by some conservative critics. Several
unsubstantiated accusations were leveled on conservative talk
radio programs. Among these were rumors of involvement with drug
traffickers and personal cocaine use. Some talk show personalities
fomented conspiracy theories about Clinton's involvement in the
death of long-time friend and aide Vince Foster, which was later
ruled a suicide in an extensive investigation by Kenneth Starr.
The deadly Branch Davidian standoff near Waco, Texas in 1993,
a bungled operation, engendered further hostility towards the
Clinton is often referred to by nickname among both detractors
and fans. One of the earliest was "Bubba", which alludes
to his Southern "good ol' boy" background. Other common
nicknames include "Slick Willy" and "Clintoon"
(by detractors), and the "Big Dog" (by fans). Although
the phrase typically refers to Ronald Reagan's presidency, Clinton's
presidency is sometimes referred to as the "Teflon Presidency"
for how scandals and setbacks never seem to stick to him, at least
in terms of dropped public support. During his first presidential
campaign in 1992 he claimed the moniker of the "Comeback
Kid" after placing second in the New Hampshire primary to
Paul Tsongas ("Tonight New Hampshire's made me the Comeback
On January 18 2001, he addressed the nation one last time on television
from the Oval Office of the White House, two days before handing
over the presidency to George W. Bush, whose father he had defeated
other former American presidents, Clinton has engaged in a career
as a public speaker on a variety of issues (earning $875,000 in
2004 alone, according to Mr. Clinton's own financial disclosure
statements). The speaking engagements are remarkable in that since
2001, when he addressed a large gathering of Morgan Stanley investment
'fat cats' and incited a major backlash aimed at company management,
he is conspicuously absent from any major US company invitations.
In his speaking outside the country and in public forums, he continues
to comment on aspects of contemporary politics.
notable theme is his advocacy of multilateral solutions to problems
facing the world. Clinton's close relationship with the African
American community has been highlighted in his post-Presidential
career with his opening of his personal office in the Harlem section
of New York City. He assisted his wife Hillary Clinton in her
campaign for office as Senator from New York.
February 2004, Clinton (along with Mikhail Gorbachev and Sophia
Loren) won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children
for narrating the Russian National Orchestra's album Peter and
the Wolf/Wolf Tracks. Clinton won a second Grammy in February
2005, Best Spoken Word Album for My Life.
autobiography, My Life, was released in June 2004.
July 26, 2004, Clinton spoke for the fifth time in a row to the
Democratic National Convention, using the opportunity to praise
candidate John Kerry. Many Democrats believed that Clinton's speech
was one of the best in Convention history. In it, he criticized
President George W. Bush's depiction of Kerry, saying that "strength
and wisdom are not opposing values."
September 2, 2004, Clinton had an episode of angina and was evaluated
at Northern Westchester Hospital. It was determined that he had
not suffered 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 successfully underwent
quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery on September 6, 2004.
The medical team responsible for Clinton claimed that, had he
not had surgery, he would likely have suffered a massive heart
attack within a few months. On March 10, 2005, he underwent a
follow-up surgery to remove scar tissue and fluid from his left
chest cavity, a result of his open-heart surgery.
dedicated his presidential library, which is the largest in the
nation, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, in Little
Rock, Arkansas on November 18, 2004. Under rainy skies, Clinton
received words of praise from former presidents Jimmy Carter and
George H. W. Bush, as well as from the current president, George
W. Bush. He was also 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.
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.
December 8, 2004, Clinton announced that he was the new spokesperson
for Accoona, an internet search engine company.
Friendship of Clinton and Bush
There had been reported signs of a friendship growing between
Clinton and George W. Bush. After the official unveiling of his
White House portrait in June 2004, the Asian Tsunami disaster,
Hurricane Katrina, and the 2004 election, Clinton and Bush met
on occasion, although the nature of the friendship did not appear
to be a reconciliation of political opinions.
January 3, 2005, President George W. Bush named Clinton and George
H. W. Bush to lead a nationwide campaign to help the victims of
the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. On February 1, 2005, he was
picked by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to head the United Nations
earthquake and tsunami relief and reconstruction effort. Five
days later, he and Bush both appeared on the Super Bowl XXXIX
pre-game show on Fox in support of their bipartisan effort to
raise money for relief of the disaster through the USA Freedom
Corps, an action which Bush described as "transcending politics."
Thirteen days later, they both traveled to the affected areas
to see how the relief efforts were going.
August 31 2005, following the devastation of the Gulf Coast by
Hurricane Katrina, Clinton again teamed with George H. W. Bush
to coordinate private relief donations, in a campaign similar
to their earlier one in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami.
Clinton was highly critical of the federal government response
to the hurricane, saying that the government "failed"
the people affected, and that an investigation into the response
the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005 Clinton stirred
up a mini-controversy saying the late pontiff, "may have
had a mixed legacy…there will be debates about him. But
on balance, he was a man of God, he was a consistent person, he
did what he thought was right." Clinton sat with both President
George W. Bush and former President George H.W. Bush as the first
current or former American heads of state to attend a papal funeral.
September 16 2005, Clinton appeared on Larry King Live to talk
about Senator Clinton's political career.
December 9 2005, speaking at the United Nations Climate Change
Conference in Montreal, Clinton publicly criticized the Bush Administration
about its handling of emissions control.
February 7, 2006, Clinton appeared at Coretta Scott King's funeral.
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 boost HIV/AIDS programs in the
March 5, 2006, he received an honorary doctorate of humane letters
from Pace University, and is the first recipient of the Pace University
President's Centennial Award. Following reception of the honorary
degree, he spoke to the students, faculty, alumni and staff of
Pace, officially kicking off the centennial anniversary of the
university. Also in 2006 Clinton was awarded the J. William Fulbright
Prize for International Understanding.
Clinton is 6' 1½" (1.87m) tall.
is left-handed (as were Harry Truman and George H.W. Bush).
Secret Service codename is "Eagle."
is an amateur saxophonist. (other recent musical presidents include
pianists Harry Truman and Richard Nixon)
is allergic to dust, mold, pollen, and cat dander, mildly allergic
to beef and dairy products.
was a brother of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity and Kappa
Kappa Psi, a band service fraternity.
is fluent in German; he studied German in college as his language-of-choice.
owned two pets during his presidency: a male chocolate-colored
Labrador Retriever named "Buddy" and a cat named "Socks".
Socks arrived in 1993 and was the first cat to live in the White
House since President Carter's daughter's cat Misty Malarky Ying
Yang. Clinton acquired Buddy as a puppy in 1997 and named him
after his late uncle. Buddy and Socks fought frequently at the
White House and were kept in separate quarters. Since this would
be no longer possible in the Clintons' smaller home in Chappaqua,
New York, Socks was given away to Clinton's secretary when he
left office. Buddy died after being run over by a car near the
Clintons' Chappaqua house in 2002.
Beheer, a Dutch insurance company famous for its humorous commercials,
once had a TV commercial involving Clinton and a voodoo doll.
This commercial was taken down after a few weeks at the request
of the White House.
reportedly owned a 1970 El Camino at one time. Speaking to a group
of GM employees, Clinton joked, "It had astro-turf in the
back. You don't want to know why."
November of 1997 President Clinton made history by being the first
sitting President to speak to a gay rights organization. He gave
a speech at a formal dinner hosted by the Human Rights Campaign.
Clinton thumb gesture was popularized by Clinton.
Clinton's campaign song during his first Presidential campaign
was "Don't Stop" [Thinking About Tomorrow] by Fleetwood
Mac. He even managed to persuade the then-defunct group to perform
for his inaugural ball in 1993.