Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
William Jefferson Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Before his Presidency, Clinton served five terms as the Governor of Arkansas.
A member of the Democratic Party, Clinton was generally considered a political moderate. During his tenure as President, his domestic priorities included legislation to upgrade education, to restrict handgun sales, to strengthen environmental rules, and to protect the jobs of parents who must care for sick children. Internationally, his priorities included reducing trade barriers and mediating the Northern Ireland and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.
His tenure was marked by an adversarial relationship with the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress. He was also subjected to a series of independent counsel investigations by the Democratic-controlled 103rd Congress, resulting in the indictment and/or conviction of many staff members, associates, and friends. He became only the second president to be impeached, as a result of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but he was acquitted by the Senate. He was the third youngest president and the first of the baby boomer generation. At times his approval rating was very low, setting a record low in his first year, but upon leaving office, it was the highest for a retiring President in modern U.S. history.
Bill Clinton was the first United States President born after the close of the Second World War. As such, his assumption of office marked a "generational shift" from the former Presidents who were mostly World War II veterans and had experienced the start of the Cold War in the 1950s.
Early life and education
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 travelling salesman who had been killed in a car accident in Scott County, Missouri between the towns of Sikeston and Morley just three months before his son was born. His mother, born Virginia Dell Cassidy , remarried in 1950 to Roger Clinton. Billy, as he was called, was raised by his mother and stepfather, using the last name "Clinton" throughout elementary school, but not formally changing it until he was 15. Clinton grew up in a turbulent family. His stepfather was a gambler and alcoholic who regularly abused his wife, and sometimes Clinton's half brother Roger, Jr. (born 1956).
Clinton excelled as a student and as a saxophone player. At one time, he considered becoming a professional musician. As a delegate to Boys Nation while in high school, he met President John F. Kennedy in the White House Rose Garden. This encounter has often been romanticized as a crucial factor in leading Clinton to begin a life of public service.
He rose from poverty to graduate from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University with a degree in International Politics. While attending Georgetown, he was a congressional aide for Senator William Fulbright and a brother of the Mu Alpha chapter of Alpha Phi Omega Community Service Fraternity. After graduation, he attended the United Kingdom's prestigious Oxford University (University College) on a Rhodes Scholarship, and received a law degree from Yale Law School. At Yale, Bill Clinton met Hillary Rodham, and they married in 1975. They have one daughter, Chelsea, born in 1980.
Arkansas political career
Clinton taught law at the University of Arkansas for a few years. During this time, he ran for the House of Representatives in 1974 against Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt. Clinton lost the election by over 6,000 votes. After his teaching stint, Clinton was elected Attorney General of Arkansas in 1976. Bill Clinton was elected governor of the state of Arkansas first in 1978, when at the time he was the youngest state governor in the United States. 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 Boat Lift) detained in Fort Chafee in 1980.
Furthermore, Hillary Rodham's decision to keep her maiden name while Arkansas' First Lady raised many eyebrows in the traditionally conservative state. After only one term, Clinton was defeated by Republican challenger Frank D. White in 1980. As he once joked, he was the youngest ex-governor in the nation's history.
Out of office, Clinton addressed the concerns that led to his political failure. He established new relationships with business interests, and made amends with the political establishment of the state. Hillary took her husband's surname and adopted a more traditional public role as a political wife, while quietly establishing herself as a political force in her own right through her skills as an attorney. Clinton was elected governor again in 1982, and was re-elected again in 1984, got the state constitution changed to allow governors four year terms, then was elected in 1986 and 1990, serving until 1992.
Clinton's business-friendly approach mollified conservative criticism during his terms as governor. However, several deals the Clintons made during this period led to the Whitewater investigation, which dogged his later presidential administration.
Clinton's first major 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, became a debacle as Clinton gave a notoriously dull speech that lasted over an hour (he joked about the length of this speech at the 1992 convention).
Despite this setback, Clinton prepared for a run in 1992 against incumbent president George H. W. Bush. In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, President Bush seemed undefeatable, and several potential Democratic candidates — notably New York Governor Mario Cuomo — passed on what seemed to be a lost cause. Positioning himself as a straight-talking everyman, Clinton handily won the Democratic Party's nomination.
Clinton chose U.S. Sen. Albert A. Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.) 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. In retrospect, many now view Gore as a helpful factor in the successful 1992 campaign.
Clinton's opponents raised various "character" issues during the campaign, including his avoidance of military service during the Vietnam War, and his glib response to a question about past marijuana use. Allegations of womanizing and shady business deals also were raised. While none of these alleged flaws led to Clinton's defeat, they did fuel unusually vehement opposition to Clinton among many conservatives from the very beginning of his presidency.
Clinton won the 1992 presidential election against Republican George H. W. Bush and independent candidate H. Ross Perot, largely on a platform focusing on domestic issues, notably the economic recession of the pre-election period — using the line "It's the economy, stupid!" For more information about Clinton's campaign, see Bill Clinton presidential campaign, 1992.
Clinton was the first Democrat to serve two full terms as President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His election ended an era in which the Republican party had controlled the Presidency 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 Jimmy Carter.
Clinton's first act as president was to sign executive order 12834 (entitled "Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees"), which placed substantial restrictions upon the ability of his senior political appointees to lobby their colleagues after they leave office. Clinton rescinded the order shortly before he left office in executive order 13184 of December 28, 2000.
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 a family or medical emergency. While this action was popular, Clinton's initial reluctance to fulfill another campaign promise relating to the acceptance of openly gay 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). After much debate, Clinton and the Pentagon agreed to a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, which officially remains in effect.
The 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. Though initially well-received, it was ultimately doomed by well-organized opposition from conservatives and the health insurance industry, who labeled it "socialized medicine". It was the first major legislative defeat of Clinton's administration.
As president, Clinton was characterized as being a much more "hands on" president than some of his Republican predecessors. While Bush and Reagan had operated under what some critics dubbed an Imperial Presidency of bureaucratic "courtiers," Clinton had much more fickle relationships with his aides, and did not delegate them significant powers. He went through four White House Chiefs of Staff — a record number of men in a position that had once been the epicenter of the Imperial Presidency. This is not to say that Clinton was without political confidants in the White House. The First Lady played an active role in helping the President form policy, and Clinton's two best friends and most loyal supporters, Paul Begala and James Carville, could often be seen defending the President's policies in Washington and the media.
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 stalled legislation, including a failed attempt to create a comprehensive health care system under a plan developed by the First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
After the 1994 election, the spotlight shifted to the Contract with America spearheaded by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The Republican-controlled Congress and Clinton sparred over the budget, Clinton's vetos resulting in a series of government shutdowns at a political penalty to the Republicans.
In the 1996 presidential election, Clinton was re-elected by a healthy margin over Republican Bob Dole and Reform candidate Ross Perot, while the Republicans retained control of the Congress losing but a few seats.
He took a personal interest in The Troubles in Northern Ireland and paid three visits there while he was president in order to encourage peace. His involvement set in motion the process that lead to the Provisional Irish Republican Army commencing disarmament on October 23, 2001. By the beginning of 2005, however, the PIRA declared that it was withdrawing from the disarmament process.
Legislation and programs
Major legislation signed
- August 10, 1993 - Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 - raised taxes; income tax, top rate: 39.6%; corporate tax: 35%
- September 21, 1993 - creation of the AmeriCorps volunteer program
- November 30, 1993 - Brady Bill
- January 1, 1994 - NAFTA
- 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
- 1995 - Executive Order 12958, created tough new standards for the process of classifying documents.
- 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 anti-terrorism agreement with Israel to track down and root out terrorists.
- April 9, 1996 - Line Item Veto Act
- April 24, 1996 - Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
- August 20, 1996 - Minimum wage Increase Act
- September 21, 1996 - Defense of Marriage Act, allowed states the power to refuse to recognize gay marriages granted in other states, among other things
- August 5, 1997 - Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
- October 28, 1998 - Digital Millennium Copyright Act
- October 31, 1998 - Iraq Liberation Act
Major legislation vetoed
- Republican 1996 national budget
- H.R. 1833, partial birth abortion ban
- Twice vetoed welfare reform before signing
Proposals not passed by Congress
- Appointed a committee on Social Security Reform and then dismissed their recommendations without ever proposing legislation.
- 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.
|Vice President||Al Gore||1993–2001|
|State||Warren M. Christopher||1993–1997|
|Madeleine K. Albright||1997–2001|
|Robert E. Rubin||1995–1999|
|Lawrence H. Summers||1999–2001|
|William J. Perry||1994–1997|
|William S. Cohen||1997–2001|
|Daniel R. Glickman||1994–2001|
|Commerce||Ronald H. Brown||1993–1996|
|William M. Daley||1997–2000|
|Norman Y. Mineta||2000–2001|
|Labor||Robert B. Reich||1993–1997|
|Alexis M. Herman||1997–2001|
|HHS||Donna E. Shalala||1993–2001|
|HUD||Henry G. Cisneros||1993–1997|
|Transportation||Federico F. Peña||1993–1997|
|Rodney E. Slater||1997–2001|
|Federico F. Peña||1997–1998|
|Veterans Affairs||Jesse Brown||1993–1997|
|Togo D. West, Jr.||1997–2000|
|Hershel W. Gober||2000–2001|
Supreme Court appointments
Clinton appointed the following justices to the Supreme Court:
The economy during the Clinton administration
Following up on a campaign promise, Clinton pursued a balanced budget and made attempts to keep inflation in check. During his tenure, the U.S. enjoyed continuous economic expansion, reductions in unemployment, and growing wealth through a massive rise in the stock market. Although it is debated to what extent his policies were responsible, upon leaving office, Clinton proudly pointed to a number of economic accomplishments, including:
- More than 22 million new jobs
- Homeownership rate increase from 64.0% to 67.5%
- Lowest unemployment in 30 years
- Higher incomes at all levels
- Largest budget deficit in American history converted to the largest surplus
- Lowest government spending as a percentage of GDP since 1974 
- Higher stock ownership by families than ever before
Clinton deployed the U.S. military several times under hostile circumstances. In 1993, U.S. troops fought the Battle of Mogadishu attempting to capture local warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Somalia. In 1994, Clinton sent U.S. troops into Haiti to restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president, ending a period of intense violence. Aristide, 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.
In 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.
After his presidency, Clinton identified his proudest foreign policy accomplishments as mediating peace talks between Israel and Palestine, resulting in the Oslo Accords. 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 by 2004.
Mr. Clinton 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.
During Clinton's tenure attacks on the U.S. by foreign terrorists included the 1993 bombing of New York's World Trade Center, the 1996 bombing of the military quarters at the Khobar Towers, the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000.
Criticisms of Foreign Policy
Some critics accuse Clinton of leading the United States to war with Kosovo under the false pretense of genocide. Defense Secretary William Cohen, trying to make the case for genocide in Kosovo, claimed, "We've now seen about 100,000 military-aged men missing...They may have been murdered ". It was a claim copied by Clinton when he spoke of "at least 100,000 (Kosovar Albanians) missing ". Later, talking about Serbian elections, Clinton said, "They're going to have to decide whether they support his leadership or not; whether they think it's OK that all those tens of thousands of people were killed...". The official NATO body count was 2,788 (well short of 100,000 and by no means genocide), with Slobodan Milosevic charged with the "murders of about 600 individually identified ethnic Albanians  ". The headline of the The Wall Street Journal on December 31, 1999 was "War in Kosovo Was Cruel, Bitter, Savage; Genocide It Wasn’t". The Wall Street Journal wrote, "the (U.N.'s International War Criminal) tribunal has checked the largest reported sites first, and found most to contain no more than five bodies, suggesting intimate acts of barbarity rather than mass murder...Kosovo would be easier to investigate if it had the huge killing fields some investigators were led to expect. Instead, the pattern is of scattered killings."
Some critics accuse Clinton of being a war criminal for the NATO bombing campaign during the Kosovo war. In the aforementioned article, The Wall Street Journal wrote, "As the war dragged on...NATO saw a fatigued press corps drifting toward the contrarian story: civilians killed by NATO's bombs. NATO stepped up its claims about Serb 'killing fields.'" The actual number of civilian deaths is hotly debated, with the numbers as high as 5,700 claimed by Yugoslavia, and with NATO acknowledging it killed, at most, 1,500 civilians. Critics note that there were more civilian deaths caused by NATO than the amount of deaths Milosevic was charged with.
Some critics blame Clinton for continuing economic sanctions against Iraq, costing perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives. Reason magazine did a study on the sanctions and concluded, "It seems awfully hard not to conclude that the embargo on Iraq has been ineffective (especially since 1998) and that it has, at the least, contributed to more than 100,000 deaths since 1990 ." Other critics argue Clinton’s attacks on Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan, and Afghanistan violated international law.   
Critics also contend that Bill Clinton misled the public on matters of foreign policy another time because Bill Clinton was the first U.S. President to make the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. He made the following statement to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on February 17, 1998:
- "In the next century, the community of nations may see more and more the very kind of threat Iraq poses now a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction ready to use them or provide them to terrorists, drug traffickers or organized criminals who travel the world among us unnoticed.
- If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow by the knowledge that they can act with impunity, even in the face of a clear message from the United Nations Security Council and clear evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program ."
Impeachment and other scandals
- Main article Impeachment of Bill Clinton
Clinton was impeached as President of the United States on December 19, 1998 by the House of Representatives. The charges were perjury and obstruction of justice. The Senate acquitted Clinton on both counts in a trial concluding on February 12, 1999.
The charges arose from an investigation by independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Originally dealing with the failed land deal years earlier known as Whitewater, Starr expanded his investigation into Clinton's conduct during the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former Arkansas government employee, Paula Jones. In a sworn deposition taken for this case, Clinton denied having sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Based on taped phone conversations between Lewinsky and her confidante, Linda Tripp, Starr reached the conclusion that Clinton's statement constituted perjury.
The Senate impeachment trial lasted from January 7, 1999 until February 12. No witnesses were called during the trial. A two-thirds majority, 67 votes, is necessary to convict the President on impeachment charges. The perjury charge was defeated with 45 votes for conviction and 55 against. The obstruction of justice charge was defeated with 50 for conviction and 50 against. Again, the impeachment effort lacked bipartisan support, with no Democratic votes for conviction.
In addition to impeachment, the Clinton White House was the subject of many lesser scandals. Travelgate refers to the firing of White House travel office staffers. Filegate refers to White House handling of hundreds of personnel files from individuals without asking for their permission. Chinagate involved Democrats accepting improper campaign contributions; allegedly the ultimate source of this money was the Chinese government. Pardongate refers to a grant of clemency to FALN members in 1999 and pardons to Marc Rich and others in 2001. In March, 1998 Kathleen Willey, a White House aide, alledged that Clinton had sexually assualted her. Also in 1998, Juanita Broaddrick alleged that Clinton had raped her in 1978. No evidence was produced or charges brought; similarly unproven allegations of rape have also been lodged against Republican presidents Reagan and George W. Bush.
Despite being acquitted in his Senate impeachment trial, Clinton was disbarred from practicing law for five years by the State of Arkansas and the United States Supreme Court. Supporters of Clinton note that President Nixon was similarly disbarred by the State of New York after it was clear he had covered up the Watergate scandal.
- 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
- October 3, 1993 - Battle of Mogadishu - Ranger Units receive heavy casualties in Somalia, Blackhawk 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.
- April 19, 1995 - Oklahoma City bombing - Bombing of federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma results in the deaths of 168 people, 19 of whom were children.
- November 14, 1995 - Budget negotiations between Congress and the President break down, resulting in a temporary shutdown of the Federal Government. Shutdowns (partial and full) continue through 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.
- November, 1996 - Clinton is reelected, defeating Republican challenger Bob Dole.
- 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 and a suspected chemical weapons factory in Sudan as Monica Lewinsky testifies before a grand jury about her relationship with Clinton.
- 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".
- December 19, 1998 - Clinton is impeached by the House of Representatives on grounds of perjury and obstruction of justice.
- January 7, 1999 - The trial of Clinton in the Senate begins.
- February 12, 1999 - Clinton is acquitted of all charges by the Senate.
- March 24 to June 10, 1999 - NATO bombs Kosovo and Serbia. (See Kosovo War.)
- May 7, 1999 - U.S. planes accidentally bomb China's embassy in Belgrade. (See Kosovo War.)
- June, 1999 - Serbia hands control of Kosovo to the United Nations. (See Kosovo War.)
- October 5, 2000 - The defeat of Slobodan Milosevic in earlier elections leads to mass demonstrations in Belgrade and the ultimate collapse of the regime's authority. Opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica takes office as the Yugoslavian president the next day.
As the first Baby Boomer president, Bill Clinton was seen during his presidency and during his candidacy as a change from the presidents of the World War II Generation. Upon his entering the national political horizon, he was commented upon as an remarkably informal person with a "common man" touch – with his frequent patronage of McDonald's becoming a popular symbol of this image. With his sound-bite rhetoric and pioneering use of pop culture in his campaigning, Clinton was declared, often negatively, as the "MTV president". Despite criticisms that his appeal to young voters lacked substance, Clinton won among Generation X voters in the 1992 election, with the highest Gen-X turnout ever. Clinton clearly came across as a man of the 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 very popular overall among African-Americans and made improving race relations a major theme of his presidency. . Toni Morrison dubbed 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."
Hillary Clinton's very strong role in the administration led to a degree of criticism toward a First Lady not seen since the days of Eleanor Roosevelt. Many people saw the couple as an unprecedented political partnership. Some even suspected that Hillary, and not Bill, was the dominant force behind the team.
Social conservatives were put off by the impression of Bill 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 damaged his image with some voters. Although he was actually to the right of previous 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 — Clinton's actions during the 1960s were never forgotten by his opponents. Intense opposition to the Clintons was perhaps the main factor in the phenomenal growth of conservative talk radio in the 1990s.
Clinton's working-class white Southern background was a complicating factor. Many white southern conservatives viewed Clinton as a "traitor" to his class, with his Ivy League and Rhodes Scholarship education and liberal world view. Clinton supporters point out that several prominent conservatives, including Newt Gingrich, had very similar charges of draft evasion, womanizing, and corruption in their past as well, and that these allegations are tied less to Clinton's actual "character" as they are to his refusal to conform to the conservatism expected from white Southern politicians.
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 Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers and Katherine 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 was viewed with intense personal animosity by some on the far right. Several lurid accusations were leveled by conservative talk radio. Among these were rumors of involvement with drug traffickers, personal cocaine use, and involvement in the death of long-time friend and aide Vince Foster (ruled a suicide). The deadly Branch Davidian standoff near Waco, Texas in 1993 fomented further far right hostility to the Clinton administration.
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).
Clinton was seen as an educated and intelligent person. Clinton was characterized by good grasp of the scientific issues and strong support of "unlimited scientific discovery, and... unlimited applications" . He sometimes criticized other political leaders for being "out of touch" with the acceleration of technology.
Clinton presided over the period of longest steady growth of the economy in modern American history.
Clinton is seen as having led — in conjunction with the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) — the Democratic Party away from the left, towards a more moderate centrist position. During the 1990s, the Party was accused of abandoning its traditional base of support (unions, the working class, minorities) in pursuit of a center-right position, responding to — and funded by — corporate contributors, with the soccer mom representing his new base. The current quandary of the Democratic party is felt by many to be primarily due to its inability to define itself vis-à-vis the Republican Party and offer a clear alternative. Clinton was able to surmount this problem through sheer personal charisma, but his successors have been less successful.
Clinton advocated nanotechnology development. Howard Lovy, a nanotechnology writer, said the National Nanotechnology Initiative may "turn out to be one of Clinton's most-important legacies". The Initiative was a federal nanoscale science, engineering, and technology research and development program. In a 21 January 2000 speech at the California Institute of Technology, Clinton said, "Some of our research goals may take twenty or more years to achieve, but that is precisely why there is an important role for the federal government."
Some of the personal failures and moral lapses of Clinton have tainted his legacy in the eyes of many Americans in spite of the good economic growth of the late 1990's. Additionally, there is controversy over his foreign policy actions; while some Americans feel that his foreign policies had resulted in an environment that permitted terrorists like Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network to strike on September 11th, others feel that his efforts at fighting terrorism were hampered by excessive partisan bickering and were not continued effectively by the succeeding administration.
On January 18, 2001, Clinton was the longest serving leader among Western democratic countries when 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 in 1992. As of 2005, of the ten presidents to take office since the 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951, Clinton is one of only three presidents to serve two full terms, and the only Democrat to do so. (The other two, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, were Republicans.) Clinton is also one of only five Democratic party candidates ever to be elected to two full terms as president — the others being Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland (non-consecutively), Woodrow Wilson, and FDR (elected four times). When Clinton left office, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien became the longest serving leader among Western democratic countries (until he too left office, in 2003).
Like many former American presidents, Clinton has engaged in a career as a public speaker on a variety of issues. In these, he continues to comment on aspects of contemporary politics. One 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 a senator representing New York.
In 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. His wife Hillary was also nominated that year, in the Best Spoken Word Album category, for her recording of her memoirs, Living History. Clinton won a second Grammy in February 2005, for Best Spoken Word Album for My Life.
Clinton collected his memoirs into a book entitled My Life, which was released on June 22, 2004. Commenting on memoirs in general, he said "some are dull and self-serving, hopefully mine will be interesting and self-serving." The book made an unprecedented three appearances on the Amazon.com best-seller list, before it was even released. In an interview with David Dimbleby which aired on the BBC on June 23, 2004,  Clinton was questioned at length about the effects to his presidency of his affair with Monica Lewinsky, conceding that he had made many mistakes while in office. He also spoke about the prospects of a future Clinton presidency, should his wife Hillary Clinton decide to run for office in 2008.
Clinton has gone to other countries for his book tours and has given media interviews on them. One of those was in Canada. On September 11, 2004, CBC Newsworld, which is the CBC's cable news network, began its sixth season of "Mansbridge One on One" with an interview Clinton gave with the program's host, the network's chief correspondent, Peter Mansbridge . Unlike Dimbleby, Mansbridge didn't mention the Lewinsky affair. Nor was there any mention of Hillary Clinton. Clinton mostly talked about his book and how he went about writing it, his thoughts on the issues that confronted the Bush administration, and the 2004 election. He also talked about repealing the 22nd Amendment in the event of a terrorist attack.
On July 26, 2004, Clinton spoke for the fifth time in a row to the Democratic National Convention. He used his speech to praise candidate John Kerry. Many critics have argued that Clinton's speech is one of the best in Convention history. In it, Clinton criticized George W. Bush, saying that "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values."
On 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 8, 2005, it was announced that he would soon be undergoing a second, follow-up surgery to remove scar tissue and fluid from his left chest cavity, a result of his open-heart surgery.
Rumours have recently appeared that Clinton has set his sights on becoming the next Secretary-General of the United Nations . He 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.
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.
There has also been reported signs of a friendship growing between former president Clinton and President Bush. Since the official unveiling of his White House portrait in June 2004, and especially since the 2004 election, Clinton and Bush have met on occasion, although the nature of the friendship seems amicable and does not appear to be a reconciliation of political opinions. 
On January 3, 2005, President George W. Bush named him 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 U.N. 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 pregame 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 are going.
Following Pope John Paul II's death on April 2, 2005 Clinton stirred up two mini-controversies 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."  He also claimed to have met "two great popes" in his life, when the other he was referring to was John XXIII, who died when Clinton was in high school without ever visiting America. Clinton sat with both President George W. Bush and former president George H.W. Bush as the first American heads of state to attend a papal funeral.
- Kenneth W. Starr (1998) The Starr Report: The Findings of Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr on President Clinton and the Lewinsky Affair PublicAffairs ISBN 1-89-162024-X
- Michael Isikoff (1999) Uncovering Clinton: A Reporter's Story Crown Publishing Group ISBN 0-60-960393-0
- Peter Baker (2000) The Breach : Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton Scribner ISBN 0-68-486813-X
- James Bovard (2000) Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years St. Martin's Press ISBN 0-31-223082-6
- David Maraniss (1998) The Clinton Enigma : A Four and a Half Minute Speech Reveals This President's Entire Life Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-68-486296-4
- Mark J. Rozell (2000) The Clinton Scandal and the Future of American Government Georgetown University Press ISBN 0-87-840777-4
- Bob Barr (2004) The Meaning of Is: The Squandered Impeachment and Wasted Legacy of William Jefferson Clinton Stroud & Hall Publishing ISBN 0-97-453762-4
- Christopher Anderson (1999). Bill & Hillary: The Marriage. William Morrow & Co., Inc. ISBN 0-75-153035-2
- Sidney Blumenthal (2003). The Clinton Wars. Farrar Straus Giroux. ISBN 0-37-412502-3
- Bill Clinton (2004). My Life. Knopf. ISBN 0375414576.
- Joe Conason and Gene Lyons (2003). The Hunting of the President : The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-31-227319-3
- Elizabeth Drew (1994). On the Edge: The Clinton Presidency. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-67-187147-1
- Jason D. Fodeman (2003). How To Destroy A Village : What The Clintons Taught A Seventeen Year Old, PublishAmerica. ISBN 1-59-129804-0
- David Maraniss (1996). First In His Class : A Biography Of Bill Clinton, Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684818906
- Roger Morris (1996). Partners in Power: The Clintons & Their America. Henry Holt. ISBN 0-89-526302-5
- Clinton Presidental Library
- William J. Clinton Foundation
- First Inaugural Address
- Second Inaugural Address
- Executive Orders signed by Clinton
- Clinton Presidential Center
- Pardons Granted By President Clinton
- The Clinton Presidency and the Crisis of Democracy - by Howard Zinn
- Draft Articles of Impeachment, 1998
- The Salon Interview: Bill Clinton
- Political donations made by Bill Clinton
- BILL CLINTON, GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS, ET AL., APPELLANTS V. M.C. JEFFERS, ET AL., 498 U.S. 1019 (1991)
- "Clinton makes nanomention of large legacy"
- "Columbia Nanotechnology: National Nanotechnology Initiative"
|- style="text-align: center;"
| width="30%" |Preceded by:
Michael Dukakis | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Democratic Party Presidential candidate
1992 (won), 1996 (won) | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
|- style="text-align: center;"
| width="30%" |Preceded by:
George H. W. Bush | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |President of the United States
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
George W. Bush
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