was born as William Jefferson Blythe III on the 19th of August,
1946. Bill Clinton served two terms as the 42nd President of the
United States of America from 1993 to 2001. Clinton was a moderate
Democrat politician who was elected Governor of Arkansas five
times, he sought legislation to upgrade education, to protect
the jobs of parents who must care for sick children, to restrict
handgun sales, and to strengthen environmental rules. Internationally,
he promoted free trade and mediated the Northern Ireland and Israeli-Palestinian
tenure was also marked by a bitter relationship with the Republican-controlled
Congress. He became only the second president to be impeached,
as a result of the Monica
Lewinsky sex scandal, but he was acquitted by the Senate.
He was the third youngest American president. Bill Clinton was
only the fifth Democrat to be elected to two terms as President.
Upon leaving office, he had the highest approval ratings for
a retiring President in modern U.S. history.
Clinton's Early life and education
Clinton was born in Hope, Arkansas and raised in Hot Springs,
Arkansas. He was named William Jefferson Blythe III after his
father, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., a traveling salesman
who had been killed in a car accident just three months before
his son was born, hence a posthumous child. 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).
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. The encounter led him
to enter a life of public service.
from poverty to graduate from the School of Foreign Service
at Georgetown University with a degree in International Affairs,
attending England's prestigious Oxford University (University
College) on a Rhodes Scholarship, and receiving 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
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
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.
Out of office,
Bill 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, 1986 and 1990, serving until
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 half an hour
(he joked about the length of this speech at the 1992 convention).
this setback, Bill 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.
Bill 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. However,
in retrospect, many now view Clinton's choice of Gore as a helpful
factor in the successful 1992 campaign.
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's policies among many conservatives from the very
beginning of his presidency.
won the 1992 presidential election against the Republican 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!", in his campaign headquarters. For
more information about Clinton's campaign, see Bill Clinton
presidential campaign, 1992.
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
Congress as well as the Presidency, for the first time since
the administration of Jimmy Carter.
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. The order was rescinded by Clinton in executive
order 13184 of December 28, 2000.
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.
As president, Bill 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.
years of Democratic party control under the leadership of President
Bill Clinton, 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 a failed
attempt to create a comprehensive health care system under a
plan developed by the First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
1994 election, the spotlight shifted to the Contract with America
spearheaded by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The Republican-controlled
Congress and President Clinton sparred over the budget, resulting
in a series of government shutdowns at a political penalty to
1996 presidential election, Bill Clinton was re-elected by a
healthy margin over Republican Bob Dole, while the Republicans
retained control of the Congress but lost a few seats.
developed a close working relationship with Tony Blair, the
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, when he was elected in
in conjunction with a Congress controlled by the Republican
Party he balanced the federal budget for the first time since
a personal interest in The Troubles in Northern Ireland and
paid three visits there while he was president in order to encourage
peace. This helped both sides in the divided community there
to begin to talk, setting in motion the process that lead to
the Provisional Irish Republican Army commencing disarmament
on October 23, 2001.
was targeted for assassination several times. One plot was scheduled
to be carried out during his late 1994 visit to the Philippines
as part of the broader Operation Bojinka, but was never carried
out. In 2002, al-Qaeda was discovered to have plotted to kill
Clinton toward the end of the president's term.
during the Clinton administration
Following up on a campaign promise, President Bill Clinton pursued
a balanced budget and made attempts to keep inflation in check.
Throughout the 1990s, Clinton presided over continuous economic
expansion (which, according to the Office of Management and
Budget, began in April 1991), reductions in unemployment, and
growing wealth through a massive rise in the stock market. Although
some question the main reason behind the economic expansion
during his term, upon leaving office, President Clinton could
point to a number of economic accomplishments, including:
22 million new jobs
Highest homeownership in American history
Lowest unemployment in 30 years
Lowest poverty rate in 20 years
Higher incomes at all levels
$360 billion of the national debt paid off
Largest budget deficit in American history converted to the
Lowest government spending in three decades
Lowest federal income tax burden in 35 years
Highest stock ownership by families than ever before
President Bill Clinton's Legacy
Bill Clinton presided over the period of longest steady growth
of the economy in modern American history. However, his active
role in this development is debatable.
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 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.
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."
the personal failures and moral lapses of Bill 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-Qaida
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.
Bill Clinton Quotes