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 federal surplus. The Congressional Budget Office reported a surplus of $236 billion in 2000, the last full year of Clinton's presidency. 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, in 1996, Clinton was re-elected and became the first member of the Democratic Party since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second full term as president. Later he was impeached for obstruction of justice, but was subsequently acquitted by the U.S. Senate.
Clinton left office with an approval rating at 66%, the highest end of office rating of any president since World War II. Since then, he has been involved in public speaking and humanitarian work. Clinton created the William J. Clinton Foundation to promote and address international causes such as treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and global warming.
In 2004, he released his autobiography My Life, and was involved in his wife Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign and subsequently in that of President Barack Obama. In 2009, he was named United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti. In the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Clinton teamed with George W. Bush to form the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
William Jefferson Blythe, III, in 1950 at age four. Known at the time as Billy, he did not formally adopt his stepfather's name until age fourteen.
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.
Bill Clinton Boyhood Home in Hope, Arkansas
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 as a gesture toward his stepfather. Clinton says he remembers his stepfather as a gambler and an alcoholic who regularly abused his mother and half-brother Roger Clinton, Jr., to the point where he intervened multiple times with the threat of violence in order 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).
Clinton attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., receiving a degree in 1968, during which he ran for President of the Student Council.
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 Philosophy, Politics and Economics, though as a result of switching programs and leaving early for Yale, he did not obtain a degree there. 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 famously said that he "never inhaled".He was a contemporary of figures including Christopher Hitchens, Robert Jackson, William Waldegrave, Edwina Currie, Stephen Milligan, John Scarlett, William Blair, John Redwood and Gyles Brandreth.
Clinton's political opponents charge that, during his college years, he used the political influence of a U.S. Senator who employed him as an aide to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War. Col. Eugene Holmes, an Army officer who was involved in Clinton's case, issued a notarized statement during the 1992 presidential campaign: "...I was informed by the draft board that it was of interest to Senator Fullbright's office that Bill Clinton, a Rhodes Scholar, should be admitted to the ROTC program... I believe that he purposely deceived me, using the possibility of joining the ROTC as a ploy to work with the draft board to delay his induction and get a new draft classification."
Clinton did not join the ROTC program, but the temporary ROTC status prevented him from being drafted. This was not illegal, but it became a source of criticism from conservatives and some Vietnam veterans.
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 on October 11, 1975, and their only child, Chelsea, was born on February 27, 1980.
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.
Political career 1978-1992
Further information: Electoral history of Bill Clinton
Governor of Arkansas
Further information: Arkansas gubernatorial election, 1978, Arkansas gubernatorial election, 1980, and Arkansas gubernatorial election, 1982
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, as the newly elected Governor of Arkansas meeting with President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
Clinton was elected Governor of Arkansas in 1978, having defeated the Republican candidate Lynn Lowe, a farmer from Texarkana. He became the youngest governor in the country at age thirty-two. He worked on educational reform and Arkansas's roads, with wife Hillary leading a successful committee on urban health care reform. However, 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 medications and increased the home property tax exemption.
In the early 1980s, Clinton made reform of the Arkansas education system a top priority. The Arkansas Education Standards Committee, chaired by Clinton's wife, attorney and Legal Services Corporation chair Hillary Rodham Clinton, succeeded in reforming the education system, transforming it from the worst in the nation, into one of the best. This has been considered by many the greatest achievement of the Clinton governorship. Clinton and the committee were responsible for state educational improvement programs, notably more spending for schools, rising opportunities for gifted children, an increase in vocational education, raising of teachers' salaries, inclusion of a wider variety of courses, and mandatory teacher testing for aspiring educators.
The Clinton's personal and business affairs during the 1980s included transactions which became the basis of the Whitewater investigation, which dogged his later presidential administration. After extensive investigation over several years, no indictments were made against the Clintons related to the years in Arkansas.
He defeated a total of four Republican candidates for governor, Lowe (1978), White (1982 and 1986), and businessmen Woody Freeman of Jonesboro (1984) and Sheffield Nelson of Little Rock (1990).
Democratic presidential primaries of 1988
Governor and Mrs. Clinton attend the Dinner Honoring the Nation's Governors in the White House with President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan, 1987. Though Governor Clinton had little to do with national politics at the time, Hillary Rodham had, several years previously, clashed over Legal Services Corporation funding with President Reagan as the organization's chair, a position she was appointed to by President Carter.
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 (following consideration for the potential candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton for governor, initially favored, but ultimately vetoed, by the First Lady). 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 19913
1992 presidential campaign
Further information: Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 1992, United States presidential election, 1992, and Bill Clinton presidential campaign, 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. 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", earning a firm second place finish.
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, 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.
Bill Clinton with Ross Perot, Independent, and President George H. W. Bush, Republican, in a national debate.
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 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 Gulf War, 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. It was the first time this had occurred since the Jimmy Carter presidency 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, with Hillary, voters would be getting two presidents "for the price of one".
Presidency of Bill Clinton
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.
Clinton in his first address to the nation on February 15, 1993, announced his intention to raise taxes to cap the budget deficit.
On February 17, 1993, in a nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress, Clinton unveiled his economic plan. The plan focused on deficit reduction rather than a middle class tax cut, which had been high on his campaign 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 homosexuals 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 homosexuals 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, 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."
Bill Clinton with Ambassador Harry Schwarz who negotiated lifting the remaining sanctions on South Africa
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 into law on November 30, 1993, 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. 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.
In August 1993, Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 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.
Senators Ted Kennedy, a Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Republican, teamed up with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her staff in 1997 and succeeded in passing legislation forming the Children's Health Insurance Program, the largest (successful) health care reform in the years of the Clinton Presidency. That same year Hillary Clinton shepherded the Adoption and Safe Families Act through Congress and two years later Rodham Clinton succeeded in helping pass the Foster Care Independence Act. Bill Clinton supported both bills as well, and signed both of them into law.
When Clinton fired several longtime employees of the White House Travel Office, controversy began on May 19, 1993. A whistleblower's letter, written during the George H. W. Bush administration, revealed evidence of financial malfeasance which led to an FBI investigation. Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr investigated the firings and found no evidence of wrongdoing by the Clintons.
White House FBI files controversy
The White House FBI files controversy of June 1996 arose concerning improper access by the White House 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.
Further information: Capital punishment in Arkansas and Capital punishment by the United States federal government
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 allegation 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.
1996 assassination attempt
Law professor Ken Gromley's book The Death of American Virtue, due for publication in February 2010, reveals that Clinton escaped a 1996 assassination attempt in the Philippines by terrorists working for Osama bin Laden.He was saved shortly before his car was due to drive over a bridge where a bomb was planted, during his visit to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Manila in 1996. Gromley said he was told the details of the bomb plot by Louis Merletti, a former director of the Secret Service. Clinton was scheduled to visit a local politician in central Manila, when secret service officers intercepted a message suggesting that an attack was imminent. A transmission used the words "bridge" and "wedding", supposedly a terrorist's code word for assassination. The motorcade was re-routed and the US agents later discovered a bomb planted under the bridge. The report said the subsequent US investigation into the plot "revealed that it was masterminded by a Saudi terrorist living in Afghanistan named Osama bin Laden". Gromley said "It remained top secret except to select members of the US intelligence community. At the time, there were media reports about the discovery of two bombs, one at Manila airport and another at the venue for the leaders' meeting".
Second term, 1997–2001
Clinton receiving the 2000 Charlemagne Prize for his work toward European integration.
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 retained control of both. Clinton received 379, or over 70% of the Electoral College votes, with Dole receiving 159 electoral votes.
Clinton's sexual relationship with a 22-year-old White House intern named Monica Lewinsky led to the Lewinsky scandal. In a lame duck session after the 1998 elections, the House voted to impeach Clinton, based on allegations Clinton lied about his relationship with Lewinsky in a sworn deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit. This made Clinton only the second U.S. president to be impeached after Andrew Johnson.
Impeachment and trial in the Senate
Main article: Impeachment of Bill Clinton
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.
The impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist presiding.
While the House Judiciary Committee hearings 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.
Military and foreign events
Countries visited by President Clinton during his terms in office.
Numerous military events occurred during Clinton's presidency. 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 fewer soldiers on the ground.
In 1995 U.S. and NATO aircraft attacked Bosnian Serb targets to halt attacks on U.N. safe zones and to pressure them into a peace accord. Clinton deployed U.S. peacekeepers to Bosnia in late 1995 to uphold the subsequent Dayton Agreement.
In response to the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed a dozen Americans and hundreds of Africans, Clinton ordered cruise missile strikes on terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan. He was subsequently criticized when it turned out that a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan (originally alleged to be a chemical warfare plant) had been destroyed.
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 announced that its forces had suffered zero combat deaths, and two deaths from an Apache helicopter crash. Opinions in the popular press criticized pre-war genocide statements 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."
In Clinton's 1998 State of the Union Address, Clinton warned Congress of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's possible 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. For the last two years of Clinton's presidency U.S. aircraft routinely attacked hostile Iraqi anti-air installations inside the Iraqi no-fly zones.
Clinton's November 2000 visit to Vietnam was the first by a U.S. President since the end of the Vietnam War. 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.
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. Following the peace talk failures, Clinton stated Arafat "missed the opportunity" to facilitate a "just and lasting peace." In his autobiography, Clinton blames Arafat for the collapse of the summit. The situation broke down completely with the start of the Second Intifada.
Main article: 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.
In November 1993 David Hale, the source of criminal allegations against Bill Clinton in the Whitewater affair, alleged that 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.
Attempted capture of Osama bin Laden
Capturing Osama bin Laden has been an objective of the United States government since the presidency of Bill Clinton. It has been asserted that on three separate occasions in 1996, 1998, and 2000, while the Clinton Administration had begun pursuit of the policy, the Sudanese government allegedly offered to arrest and extradite Bin Laden as well as to provide the United States detailed intelligence information about growing militant organizations in the region, including Hezbollah and Hamas, and that U.S. authorities allegedly rejected each offer despite knowing of bin Laden's involvement in bombings on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
However, the 9/11 Commission found that although "former Sudanese officials claim that Sudan offered to expel Bin Laden to the United States", "we have not found any reliable evidence to support the Sudanese claim."
Law license suspension
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 (Bill Clinton)
Troopergate is the popular name of a 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. Brock later admitted journalistic dishonesty and apologized.
Pardons and campaign finance
Main articles: Bill Clinton pardons controversy and 1996 United States campaign finance controversy
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
February 5, 1993 - Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
August 10, 1993 - Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 - Raised income tax rates; income tax, top rate: 39.6%; corporate tax: 35%
September 21, 1993 - creation of the AmeriCorps volunteer program
November 30, 1993 - Brady Bill
December 8, 1993 - North American Free Trade Agreement - Created a trilateral trade bloc in North America.
September 13, 1994 - Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, part of an omnibus crime bill, the federal death penalty was expanded to some 60 different offenses (see Federal assault weapons ban)
February 1, 1996 - Communications Decency Act
February 8, 1996 - Telecom Reform Act: eliminated major ownership restrictions for radio and television groups.
February 26, 1996 - Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, a welfare reform bill
March 14, 1996 - authorized $100 million counter-terrorism agreement with Israel to track down and root out terrorists.
April 9, 1996 - Line Item Veto Act
April 24, 1996 - Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
August 20, 1996 - Minimum wage Increase Act
September 21, 1996 - Defense of Marriage Act, allowed states to refuse recognition of certain same-sex marriages, and defined marriage as between a male and female for purposes of federal law.
August 5, 1997 - Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
October 28, 1998 - Digital Millennium Copyright Act
October 31, 1998 - Iraq Liberation Act
Major legislation vetoed
H.R. 1833, partial birth abortion ban
Twice vetoed welfare reform before signing
the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Congress overrode the veto, however, to enact the bill into law.
Proposals not passed by Congress
Health care reform
Campaign finance reform (1993)
Tried to get Ehud Barak of Israel and Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian National Authority, to agree to a final settlement agreement.
Initiated the Don't ask, don't tell policy toward gays in the military, 1993.
Reversed a ban on senior Sinn Féin politicians entering the U.S.
Proposed a national challenge to end the racial divide in America, the One America Initiative.
Main articles: Bill Clinton Supreme Court candidates and Bill Clinton judicial appointments
Clinton appointed the following justices to the Supreme Court:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg - 1993
Stephen Breyer - 1994
In addition to his two Supreme Court appointments, Clinton appointed 66 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals, and 305 judges to the United States district courts. His total of 373 judicial appointments, is second in American history, behind Ronald Reagan. Clinton also experienced a number of judicial appointment controversies, as 24 nominees to 20 different federal appellate judgeships were not processed by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee.
Clinton's approval ratings throughout his presidential career
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 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 matched those of Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt as the highest ratings for departing presidents in the modern era.
As he was leaving office, a CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup poll revealed 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 Richard 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 66% Gallup Poll approval rating was also the highest Gallup approval rating of any Postwar President leaving office, three points ahead of Reagan.
Clinton reading with a child in Chicago, September, 1998.
In March 2010, a Newsmax/Zogby poll asking Americans which of the current living former presidents they think is best equipped to deal with the problems the country faces today, found that a wide margin of respondents would pick Bill Clinton. Clinton received 41% of the vote, while former President George W. Bush received 15%, former President George H.W. Bush received 7%, and former President Jimmy Carter received 5%. Although 26% chose "none", and 5% were not sure.
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, he was described by some religious conservatives as "the MTV president." Standing at a height of 6'2" (1.88 m), Clinton is tied with five others as the fourth-tallest president in the nation's history.a
Clinton drew strong support from the African American community and made improving race relations a major theme of his presidency. In 1998, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison in The New Yorker 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, Morrison's sentiments were raised anew as Barack Obama, who would later become the country's first African-American President, ran for the presidency. After endorsing 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 said 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. Obama himself, when asked in a Democratic debate about Morrison's declaration of Clinton as "black", replied that Clinton had an enormous "affinity" with the black community, but joked he would need to see Clinton's dancing ability before judging him to be black.
Sexual misconduct allegations
Throughout his career, Clinton has been subject to various allegations of sexual misconduct, though only his extramarital sexual relationships with Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers have been admitted by him.
For alleged misconduct during his governorship Paula Jones brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton while he was president. Clinton argued that as a sitting president, he should not be vulnerable to a civil suit of this nature. The case landed in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that "Deferral of this litigation until petitioner's Presidency ends is not constitutionally required."
However, a U.S. judge in Arkansas, Susan Webber Wright, ruled that since Jones had not suffered any damages, the case should be dismissed. This judge had been one of Clinton's students at the University of Arkansas. On April 2, 1998, Judge Susan Webber Wright dismissed Jones' lawsuit.In July, Jones filed an appeal and prevailed.
During the deposition for the Jones lawsuit which was held at the White House,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 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 accusations 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 each said she had had adulterous sexual relations with Clinton during or before his service as governor. Gracen later apologized to Hillary Clinton for having sex with Bill.
Dolly Kyle Browning alleged that she and Clinton engaged in a long sexual affair. Browning began writing a "semi-autobiographical novel" about the affair. In the publication process, Browning asserted that Clinton did everything in his power to prohibit and undermine publication. Browning sued Clinton for damages, but the US Court of Appeals would deny her appeal.
Post-presidency of Bill Clinton
Public speaking and campaigning
Hillary Clinton re-enacts being sworn in as a U.S. Senator by Vice President Gore as Bill and Chelsea Clinton observe.
At the end of his presidency, Clinton moved to New York and helped his wife get elected to the Senate there. Clinton also has spoken around the world about politics and policy issues, often speaking before businesses and charities for over $100,000 a speech.. In 2007, Clinton met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and spoke at the Ontario economic summit. He has also spoken at the last six Democratic National Conventions, dating back to 1988.
William J. Clinton Presidential Center
Main article: William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park
The William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas was dedicated on November 18, 2004. The library has the largest archives of any presidential library.
My Life (Bill Clinton autobiography) and Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World
Clinton released a personal autobiography, My Life in 2004.
In 2007, he released, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World which became a bestseller and garnered positive reviews.
William Clinton Foundation
Main article: William J. 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.
Clinton with former President George H. W. Bush in January 2005.
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), funded by the Clinton Foundation, was inaugurated 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.
The foundation has received donations from a number of foreign governments, including the king of Morocco, a foundation linked to the United Arab Emirates, and the governments of Kuwait and Qatar.
In 2008 newspapers reported that "Mr. Clinton had travelled to Kazakhstan with a Canadian mining magnate, Frank Giustra, to meet its dictator president. Mr. Giustra later won three lucrative uranium mining contracts from the government and then donated $US31 million to Mr. Clinton's charity."
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.
Then-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.
Clinton, along with George W. Bush, Laura Bush, George H. W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Andrew Card pay their respects to Pope John Paul II before the pope's funeral.
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.
2008 Presidential election
Clinton speaking at a rally for his wife at Dickinson College.
In the course of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign, Clinton vigorously advocated on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton. Some worried that as an ex-president, he was too active on the trail, too negative to Clinton rival Barack Obama, and alienating his supporters at home and abroad. Many were especially critical of him following his remarks in the South Carolina primary, which Obama won. Later in the 2008 primaries, there was some rivalry infighting between Bill and Hillary's staffs, especially in Pennsylvania.Based on Bill's remarks, many thought that he couldn't rally Hillary supporters behind Obama after Obama won the primary. 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".
Trip to North Korea
2009 imprisonment of American journalists by North Korea
Clinton made an unannounced trip to North Korea, a country with which the United States does not have diplomatic relations, on August 4, 2009. Clinton arrived in Pyongyang in order to negotiate the release of U.S. citizens Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who were imprisoned by North Korean forces for illegally entering the country from China while filming a documentary and given a 12-year sentence.His visit to North Korea was the second such trip by a former U.S. President, the other occurring when Jimmy Carter visited in 1994.After Clinton met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Kim issued a special pardon for the two journalists. On the morning of August 5, the journalists were released from custody and flew home to the United States with Clinton.
United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti
In 2009, Clinton was named United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti. On January 16, 2010, in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that Clinton and George W. Bush will coordinate efforts to raise funds for Haiti's recovery.
In September 2004, Clinton received a quadruple bypass surgery.On February 11, 2010, he was rushed to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City after complaining of chest pains, and had two coronary stents implanted in his heart.
Honors and accolades
The President of the Czech Republic awarded Clinton the Order of the White Lion, First Class with Collar Chain in 1998.
Statue of Clinton playing golf
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.
William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, Little Rock, Arkansas.
He received an honorary doctorate of laws from Tulane University in New Orleans (along with George H. W. Bush), University of Michigan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and also from the University of Hong Kong. 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 October 16, 2009, Clinton received an honorary doctorate from McGill University in recognition of "an unyielding devotion to social justice in the world".
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 and 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 Pristina, 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 began January 1, 2009 and he succeeded Fmr. President George H. W. Bush.
There is an elementary school in Compton, California named for Bill Clinton. It is in the Compton Unified School District.
There is also a middle school in Los Angeles in the Los Angeles Unified School District named for Bill Clinton.
On November 1, 2009 a statue of Bill Clinton was unveiled in Pristina, Kosovo.
He is a Kentucky Colonel.