William Jefferson Clinton

From New World Encyclopedia
(Redirected from Bill Clinton)

William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton
42nd President of the United States
Term of office January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
Preceded by George H. W. Bush
Succeeded by George W. Bush
Date of birth August 19, 1946
Place of birth Hope, Arkansas
Spouse Hillary Rodham Clinton
Political party Democrat

William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946), was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001. Before his presidency, Clinton served nearly 12 years as both the 50th and 52nd Governor of Arkansas. Clinton was the third-youngest person to serve as president, after Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

During Clinton's presidency, the world continued to transition from the Cold War, and the United States experienced the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in its history. In 1998, as a result of charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, he became the second president to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. He was subsequently acquitted by the U.S. Senate and remained in office to complete his term.

Since leaving office, Clinton has been very actively involved in public speaking and humanitarian work. He 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. His wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, junior United States Senator from the state of New York, where they both currently reside in Chappaqua, was a nearly-successful Democratic candidate for President during the 2008 primary season. Bill Clinton campaigned very energetically for her in the primaries and continues to be a very influential figure within the Democratic Party.

Early life

William Jefferson Blythe III was born in Hope, Arkansas, and raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was named after his father, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., a traveling salesman who died in a car accident three months before he was born. His mother, born Virginia Dell Cassidy (1923–1994), remarried in 1950 to Roger Clinton. Roger Clinton owned an automobile dealership business with his brother, Raymond. The young Billy, as he was called, was raised by his mother and stepfather, assuming his last name "Clinton" throughout elementary school but not formally changing it until he was 14. Clinton grew up in a traditional, albeit blended, family; however, according to Clinton, his stepfather was a gambler and an alcoholic who regularly abused Clinton's mother and sometimes Clinton's half-brother, Roger, Jr.

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 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.[1]

Among influential moments of Clinton's life contributing to his decision to become a public figure was a visit to the White House to meet then-President John F. Kennedy following his election as a Boys Nation Senator and Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington speech I Have a Dream.\.[2] Clinton was a member of Youth Order of DeMolay but never actually became a Freemason.[3]

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. It was at Georgetown that he interned for Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright. While in college he became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Upon graduation he won a Rhodes Scholarship to University College, Oxford where he studied government. He developed an interest in rugby, 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.

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

Arkansas political career

Bill Clinton

50th & 52nd Governor of Arkansas
In office
January 9, 1979 – January 19, 1981
January 11, 1983 – December 12, 1992
Lieutenant(s) Joe Purcell

Winston Bryant
Jim Guy Tucker

Preceded by Joe Purcell (1st)

Frank D. White (2nd)

Succeeded by Frank D. White (1st)

Jim Guy Tucker (2nd)

Born August 19, 1946
Hope, Arkansas
Political party Democratic
Spouse Hillary Rodham Clinton
Profession Politician

In 1974, his first year as a University of Arkansas law professor, Clinton ran for the House of Representatives. The incumbent, John Paul Hammerschmidt, defeated Clinton with 52 percent of the vote. In 1976, Clinton was elected Attorney General of Arkansas without opposition in the general election.

In 1978, Bill Clinton was first elected Governor of Arkansas, the youngest to be elected governor since 1938. His first two-year term was fraught with difficulties, including an unpopular motor vehicle tax and popular anger over the escape of Cuban prisoners (from the Mariel boatlift) detained in Fort Chaffee in 1980.

In the 1980 election, Clinton was defeated in his bid for a second term by Republican challenger Frank D. White. As he once joked, he was the youngest ex-governor in the nation's history. But in 1982, Clinton won his old job back, and over the next decade he helped Arkansas transform its economy. He became a leading figure among the New Democrats, a branch of the Democratic Party that called for welfare reform and smaller government, a policy supported by both Democrats and Republicans alike.

Clinton's approach mollified conservative criticism during his terms as governor. However, personal and business transactions made by the Clintons during this period became the basis of the Whitewater investigation, which dogged his later presidential Administration. After very extensive investigation over several years, no indictments were made against the Clintons related to the years in Arkansas.

Campaign for the Democratic Nomination

There was some media speculation in 1987 that Clinton would enter the race for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination after then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo declined to run and Democratic frontrunner Gary Hart bowed out due to revelations about marital infidelity. Often referred to as the "Boy Governor" at the time because of his youthful appearance, Clinton decided to remain as Arkansas Governor and postpone his presidential ambitions until 1992. Presenting himself as a moderate and a member of the New Democrat wing of the Democratic Party, he headed the moderate Democratic Leadership Council in 1990 and 1991.

In 1992, Clinton was the early favorite of Democratic Party insiders and elected officials for the presidential nomination; therefore, he was able to rack up scores of superdelegates even before the first nominating contests were conducted. In spite of this, Clinton began his 1992 presidential quest on a sour note by finishing near the back of the pack in the Iowa caucus, which was largely uncontested due to the presence of favorite-son Senator Tom Harkin, the easy winner. Clinton’s real trouble, however, began during the New Hampshire Primary campaign, when revelations of a possible extramarital affair with Gennifer Flowers began to surface. Clinton and his wife Hillary decided to go on national television CBS 60 Minutes following the Super Bowl to rebut those charges of infidelity, which had started to take their toll, as Clinton had fallen way behind former Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas in the New Hampshire polls. In fact, his campaign was beginning to unravel. Their TV appearance was a calculated risk, but it seemed to pay off as Clinton regained some of his lost footing. He still finished second to Tsongas in the New Hampshire Primary, but the media viewed it as a moral victory for Clinton, since he came within single digits of winning after trailing badly in the polls. Clinton shrewdly labeled himself “The Comeback Kid” on election night to help foster this perception and came out of New Hampshire on a roll. Tsongas, on the other hand, picked up little or no momentum from his victory.

Clinton used his new-found momentum to storm through the Southern primaries, including the big prizes of Florida and Texas, and build up a sizable delegate lead over his opponents in the race for the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination. However, there were still some doubts as to whether he could secure the nomination, as former California Governor Jerry Brown was scoring victories in other parts of the country and Clinton had yet to win a significant contest outside of his native South. With no major Southern state remaining on the primary calendar, Clinton set his sights on the delegate-rich New York Primary, which was to be his proving ground. Much to the surprise of some, Clinton scored a resounding victory in New York. It was a watershed moment for him, as he had finally broken through and shed his image as a regional candidate and as centrist Democrat whose standing with Northern liberals was questionable. Having been transformed into the consensus candidate, he took on an air of inevitability and was able to cruise to the nomination, topping it off with a victory on Brown’s home turf in the California Primary in June.

A 1998 Mike Nichols film called Primary Colors, starring John Travolta and Emma Thompson, was loosely based on Bill Clinton's 1992 primary campaign.

Presidential election

Clinton won the 1992 Presidential election (43.0 percent of the vote) against Republican incumbent George H. W. Bush (37.4 percent of the vote) and billionaire populist H. Ross Perot, who ran as an independent (18.9 percent of the vote) on a platform focusing on domestic issues; a large part of his success was Bush's steep decline in public approval. Previously described as "unbeatable" because of his approval ratings in the 80 percent range during the Persian Gulf conflict, Bush saw his public approval rating drop to just over 40 percent by election time due to a souring economy.

Additionally, Bush reneged on his promise ("Read My Lips: No New Taxes!") not to raise taxes when he compromised with Democrats in an attempt to lower the Federal deficits. This hurt him among conservatives. Clinton capitalized on Bush's policy switch, repeatedly condemning the President for making a promise he failed to keep.

Finally, Bush's party base was in disarray. Conservatives had previously been united by anti-communism, but with the end of the Cold War, new issues would have to emerge. The 1992 Republican National Convention was perceived by some moderate voters to have been usurped by religious conservatives, and did not inspire them.[4] All this worked in Clinton's favor. Clinton could point to his moderate, New Democrat record as governor of Arkansas. Liberal Democrats were impressed by Clinton's academic credentials, his 1960s-era protest record, and support for social causes such as women's abortion issues. Many Democrats who had supported Ronald Reagan and Bush in previous elections switched their allegiance to the more moderate Clinton.

His election ended an era of Republican rule of the White House for the previous 12 years, and 20 of the previous 24 years. That election also brought the Democrats full control of both houses of Congress. Clinton would be the first president to enjoy this privilege since Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s.

Presidency, 1993-2001

Significant events of the first term

The Clinton Cabinet
President Bill Clinton 1993-2001
Vice President Al Gore 1993-2001
State Warren M. Christopher 1993-1997
Madeleine K. Albright 1997-2001
Treasury Lloyd Bentsen 1993-1994
Robert E. Rubin 1995-1999
Lawrence H. Summers 1999-2001
Defense Les Aspin 1993-1994
William J. Perry 1994-1997
William S. Cohen 1997-2001
Justice Janet Reno 1993-2001
Interior Bruce Babbitt 1993-2001
Agriculture Mike Espy 1993-1994
Daniel R. Glickman 1994-2001
Commerce Ronald H. Brown 1993-1996
Mickey Kantor 1996-1997
William M. Daley 1997-2000
Norman Y. Mineta 2000-2001
Labor Robert B. Reich 1993-1997
Alexis M. Herman 1997-2001
Health and
Human Services
Donna E. Shalala 1993-2001
Education Richard Riley 1993-2001
Housing and
Urban Development
Henry G. Cisneros 1993-1997
Andrew Cuomo 1997-2001
Transportation Federico F. Peña 1993-1997
Rodney E. Slater 1997-2001
Energy Hazel O'Leary 1993-1997
Federico F. Peña 1997-1998
Bill Richardson 1998-2001
Veterans Affairs Jesse Brown 1993-1997
Togo D. West, Jr. 1998-2000

Shortly after taking office, Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which required large employers to allow their employees to take unpaid leave because of pregnancy or serious medical condition. While this action was popular, Clinton's attempt to fulfill another campaign promise of allowing openly gay men and lesbians serving in the armed forces was the subject of criticism. His handling of the issue 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, the Congress - which has sole power under the U.S. Constitution to regulate the armed forces - implemented the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, stating that homosexual men and women may serve in the military as long as their sexuality is kept secret. By 1999, Clinton said he didn't "think any serious person could say" that the way the policy was being implemented was not "out of whack".[5] Some gay rights advocates criticized Clinton for not going far enough and accused him of making his campaign promise simply to get votes and contributions.[6][7] These advocates felt Clinton should have integrated the military by executive order, noting that President Harry Truman ended segregation of the armed forces in that manner. Clinton's defenders argued that an executive order might have prompted the then-Democrat-controlled Senate to write the exclusion of gays into law, potentially making it even harder to integrate the military in the future. Nonetheless, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was agreed to by the nation's military leaders in 1993.

Clinton promoted another controversial issue during this period: one regarding free trade. In 1993, Clinton supported the North American Free Trade Agreement for ratification by the U.S. Senate. Despite being negotiated by his Republican predecessor, Clinton (along with most of his Democratic Leadership Committee allies) strongly supported free trade measures. Opposition came from anti-trade Republicans, protectionist Democrats and supporters of Ross Perot. Ultimately, the treaty was ratified.

Clinton signed the Brady Bill, which imposed a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases. He also expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits working class families with dependent children.

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

Two months later, after two years of Democratic Party control under Clinton's leadership, the mid-term elections in 1994 proved disastrous for the Democrats. This was the first time the Democratic Party had lost control of both houses of Congress in 40 years

In August 1993, Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which passed Congress without a single Republican vote. It raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2 percent of taxpayers, while cutting taxes on 15 million low-income families and making tax cuts available to 90 percent of small businesses.[8] Additionally, it mandated that the budget be balanced over a number of years, and the implementation of spending restraints.

In foreign policy, Clinton hosted a White House Rose Garden ceremony in September 1993 with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian National Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat on the occasion of the signing of the Oslo Peace Agreement. Clinton likely could have fostered more progress in Arab-Israeli peace in his first term if it were not for Rabin's assassination in late 1995.

Clinton also presided over the generally successful 1994 Agreed Framework between the U.S. and North Korea (DPRK) in which the North froze its nuclear program under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring until US-DPRK relations broke down in the early George W. Bush administration.

Significant events of the second term

In the 1996 presidential election a few months later, Clinton was re-elected, receiving 49.2 percent of the popular vote over Republican Bob Dole (40.7 percent of the popular vote) and Reform candidate Ross Perot (8.4 percent of the popular vote), becoming the first Democrat to win reelection to the presidency since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Republicans lost a few seats in the House and gained a few in the Senate, but overall retained control of the Congress. Although he did not win a clear majority of the popular vote, Clinton received over 70 percent of the Electoral College vote.

Throughout 1998, there was a controversy over Clinton's relationship with a young White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton initially denied the affair while testifying in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. Opposing lawyers asked the president about it during his deposition. He stated "I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her." Four days later he also said, "There is not a sexual relationship, an improper sexual relationship, or any other kind of improper relationship."[9]

Clinton then appeared on national television on January 26 and asserted: "Listen to me, I'm going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." However, after it was revealed that investigators had obtained evidence as well as testimony from Lewinsky, Clinton changed tactics and admitted that an improper relationship with Lewinsky had taken place: "Indeed I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible."

Faced with overwhelming evidence, he apologized to the nation, agreed to pay a $25,000 fine, settled his sexual harassment lawsuit with Paula Jones for $850,000 and was disbarred for five years from practicing law in Arkansas and before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was not tried for perjury in a court. However, Clinton did admit to "testifying falsely" in a carefully worded statement as part of a deal to avoid indictment for perjury.

In a lame duck session after the 1998 elections, the Republican-controlled House voted to impeach Clinton. The next year, the Senate voted to acquit Clinton, and he remained in office (see below).

In 1999, to stop the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Albanians by nationalist Serbians in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Clinton authorized the use of American troops in a NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, 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 U.N. administration and authorized a peacekeeping force. NATO claimed to have suffered zero combat deaths, and two deaths from an Apache helicopter crash. Opinions in the popular press criticized pre-war genocide claims by the Clinton administration as greatly exaggerated. A U.N. Court ruled genocide did not take place, but recognized, "a systematic campaign of terror, including murders, rapes, arsons and severe maltreatments." The term "ethnic cleansing" was used as an alternative to "genocide" to denote not just ethnically motivated murder but also displacement, though critics charge there is no difference. Slobodan Milošević, the President of Yugoslavia at the time, was eventually charged with the "murders of about 600 individually identified ethnic Albanians" and "crimes against humanity."

In the closing year of his Administration, Clinton attempted to address the Arab-Israeli conflict. After initial successes such as the Oslo accords of the early 1990s, the situation had quietly deteriorated, breaking down completely with the start of the Second Intifada. Clinton had brought Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian National Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat together at Camp David. However, these negotiations ultimately proved unsuccessful, with Clinton putting the onus of responsibility on what he termed Arafat's intransigence, although other senior U.S. officials who participated in this "Camp David II" process believe the blame lay equally with all sides.

Clinton also supported the peace process in Northern Ireland. Lack of success in the Mideast was compensated by progress in the latter conflict, where his visit to Dublin in December 2000 helped revive the peace process. In 1998, he had appointed former US Senator George Mitchell as US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, who brokered the Good Friday Agreement. [10]

Clinton remained popular with the public throughout his two terms as President, ending his presidential career with a 65 percent approval rating, the highest end-of-term approval rating of any President since Eisenhower.[11] In addition to his political skills, Clinton also benefited from a boom in the U.S. economy. Under Clinton, the United States had a projected federal budget surplus for the first time since 1969.

Legislation and programs

Major legislation signed

  • 1993-02-05 - The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
  • 1993-08-10 - Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 - Raised income tax rates; income tax, top rate: 39.6 percent; corporate tax: 35 percent
  • 1993-09-21 - creation of the AmeriCorps volunteer program
  • 1993-11-30 - Brady Bill
  • 1994-09-13 - 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)
  • 1996-02-01 - Communications Decency Act
  • 1996-02-08 - Telecom Reform Act: eliminated major ownership restrictions for radio and television groups.
  • 1996-02-26 - Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, major welfare reform legislation
  • 1996-03-14 - authorized $100 million counter-terrorism agreement with Israel to track down and root out terrorists.
  • 1996-04-09 - Line Item Veto Act
  • 1996-04-24 - Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
  • 1996-08-20 - Minimum wage Increase Act
  • 1996-09-21 - 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
  • 1997-08-05 - Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
  • 1998-10-28 - Digital Millennium Copyright Act
  • 1998-10-31 - Iraq Liberation Act

Major legislation vetoed

  • national budget
  • 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)


  • "Camp David II": Tried to get Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PNA Chairman Yasser Arafat 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.
  • Extraordinary rendition got approval for the first time in the US from the Clinton administration.

Supreme Court appointments

Clinton appointed the following justices to the Supreme Court:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg - 1993 (Clinton was the first Democratic president to appoint a female Supreme Court justice)
  • Stephen Breyer - 1994

Lewinsky scandal investigation and impeachment trial

The Lewinsky scandal

In 1998, as a result of allegations that he had lied during grand jury testimony regarding his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a young female White House intern, Clinton became the second U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives (the other being Andrew Johnson). The House held no serious impeachment hearings before the 1998 mid-term elections: Republican candidates rarely mentioned the issue of impeachment, but Democrats generally came out strongly against impeachment. In spite of the allegations against the President, his party picked up a few seats in the Congress. The Republican leadership called a lame duck session in December 1998 to hold impeachment proceedings.

Although the House Judiciary Committee hearings were perfunctory and ended in a straight party line vote, the debate on the floor of the House was lively. The two charges that were 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 brought by former Arkansas-state employee Paula Jones. The obstruction charge was based on his actions during the subsequent investigation of that testimony.

Impeachment trial in the Senate

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 powerhouse law firm Williams & Connolly.

On February 12, 1999, the Senate concluded a 21-day trial with the vote on both counts falling short of the Constitutional requirement of a two-thirds majority to convict and remove an office holder. The final vote was generally along party lines, with all of the votes to convict being cast by Republicans. On the perjury charge, 55 senators voted to acquit, including 10 Republicans, and 45 voted to convict; on the obstruction charge the Senate voted 50-50.[12] Clinton, as was the case with Andrew Johnson, served the remainder of his term.

In a separate case, Clinton was disbarred in Arkansas for five years and ordered to pay $25,000 in fines. The agreement came on the condition that Whitewater prosecutors would not pursue criminal charges against him after he lied under oath about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Other controversies

Administrative controversy

Another controversy began on May 19, 1993, when several longtime employees of the White House Travel Office were fired. A whistleblower's letter, written during the previous administration, triggered an FBI investigation, which revealed evidence of financial malfeasance.

The White House personnel file controversy of June 1996 arose around improper access to FBI security-clearance documents. Craig Livingstone, head of White House security, improperly requested, and received from the FBI, personnel files without asking permission of the subject individuals.

Campaign finance and the pardon 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 fund-raising practices of the administration itself.[13]

President Bill Clinton has been criticized for some of his presidential pardons and other acts of executive clemency. Clinton issued 140 pardons on his last day in office (January 20, 2001). It is common practice for Presidents to grant a number of pardons shortly before leaving office, but Clinton's last day list was more numerous than those of many previous presidents. Most of the controversy surrounded international commodities trader 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.

Willey and Broaddrick allegations

Two claims of sexual misconduct on the part of Bill Clinton were alleged by former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey and Arkansas nursing home administrator Juanita Broaddrick during his Administration. Neither claim resulted in charges against Clinton.

Public approval

Clinton's approval ratings throughout his presidential career

While Clinton's job approval rating varied over the course of his first term, ranging from a low of 36 percent in mid-1993 to a high of 64 percent in late-1993 and early-1994,[14] his job approval rating consistently ranged from the high 50s to the high 60s in his second term.[15] Clinton's approval rating reached its highest point at 73 percent approval in the aftermath of the impeachment proceedings in 1998 and 1999.[16] A CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup poll conducted as he was leaving office, revealed deeply contradictory attitudes regarding Clinton. Although his approval rating at 68 percent was higher than that of any other departing president since polling began more than 70 years earlier, only 45 percent said they would miss him. While 55 percent thought he "would have something worthwhile to contribute and should remain active in public life," and 47 percent rated him as either outstanding or above average as a president, 68 percent thought he would be remembered for his "involvement in personal scandal" rather than his accomplishments as president, and 58 percent answered "no" to the question "Do you generally think Bill Clinton is honest and trustworthy?" 47 percent of the respondents identified themselves as being Clinton supporters.

In May 2006, a CNN poll comparing Clinton's job performance with that of his successor, George W. Bush, found a majority of respondents said Clinton outperformed Bush in six different areas questioned.[17]

Two unique events influenced the United States economy during Clinton's tenure, which may have impacted the perception of his handling of the economy. Widespread use of the Internet, especially the World Wide Web, began in 1993. A massive and unprecedented spending boom accompanied the popularization of the Web. Another technology-related event was Y2K, the year-2000 repair efforts. A spending boom—estimated at $300 billion—occurred in the late 1990s as governments and companies rushed to make their legacy computer systems "Year-2000 Compliant." The massive surge in information technology spending associated with these events coincided with the Clinton Presidency.

Public image

Clinton reading with a child.

As the first Baby Boomer president, Clinton was the first president in a half century not shaped by World War II. With his sound-bite-ready dialogue and pioneering use of pop culture in his campaigning, such as playing his saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show, Clinton was sometimes described as the "MTV president." Until his inauguration, 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, released in June 2004. Clinton, a charismatic speaker, tended to draw huge crowds during public speeches throughout his terms in office. Clinton was also very popular among African-Americans and made improving race relations a major theme of his presidency.[18]

Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison in 1998 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, despite his career accomplishments, comparing Clinton's scrutinized sex life to the stereotyping and double standards that blacks typically endure.[19]

Post-presidential career

Public speaking

Bill Clinton has engaged in a career as a public speaker on a variety of issues. In his speaking engagements around the world, 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 the opening of his personal office in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan. He assisted his wife, Hillary Clinton, in her campaigns for Senator from New York in 2000 and 2006, and in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

Hillary Clinton re-enacts being sworn in as a U.S. Senator by Vice President Gore as Bill and Chelsea Clinton observe.

Clinton campaigned for a number of Democratic candidates for the Senate in the 2002 elections, but only one was voted into office. While Clinton was still well-liked by voters, his personal popularity didn't have the desired affect for the candidates he was supporting in the political arena.

He dedicated his presidential library, the largest in the nation, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 18, 2004.

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


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 underwent a successful quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery on September 6, 2004. The medical team stated that, had he not had surgery, he would likely have suffered a massive heart attack within a few months.[20] On March 10, 2005, he underwent follow-up surgery to remove scar tissue and fluid from his left chest cavity, a result of open-heart surgery.

Clinton, along with Pres. George W. Bush, Laura Bush, and Pres. George H. W. Bush pay their respects to Pope John Paul II before the pope's funeral.

Humanitarian work

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.

On May 3, 2005, Clinton announced through the William J. Clinton Foundation an agreement by major soft drink manufacturers to cease the sale of soft drinks [21] in public primary and secondary schools. His foundation has also expressed interest in supporting peace parks, including one proposed for the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

Friendship with George H.W. Bush

There had been reported signs of a friendship growing between Clinton and former President George H.W. Bush, father of President George W. Bush. After the official unveiling of his White House portrait in June 2004, the Asian Tsunami disaster, Hurricane Katrina, and the 2004 election, Clinton and Bush met, although the nature of the meetings did not appear to include a reconciliation of political opinions.

Clinton with former President George H.W. Bush in January 2005.

On January 3, 2005, President George W. Bush named Clinton and George H. W. Bush to lead a nationwide campaign to help the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. On February 1, 2005, he was selected by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to head the United Nations earthquake and tsunami relief and reconstruction effort. Five days later, Clinton appeared with Bush on the Super Bowl XXXIX pre-game show on the Fox network 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 traveled to the affected areas to see the relief efforts.

On August 31, 2005, following the devastation of the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina, Clinton again teamed with George H. W. Bush to coordinate private relief donations, in a campaign similar to their earlier one in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami.

2008 election involvement

In the course of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign, Clinton vigorously advocated on behalf of his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, leading some observers and party members to question the appropriateness of his role in view of his status as a former president. Some felt that Clinton was overshadowing his wife in the campaign, with her presidential rival U.S. Senator Barack Obama, who is African-American, complaining that he sometimes "did not know which Clinton he was running against." Top Democratic Party officials asked Clinton to tone down his attacks on Obama following the bitterly contested Nevada caucus, suggesting that Bill Clinton could be damaging his own political capital and global stature. Some commentators even accused the former president of "playing the race card" against Obama. Many felt that by alienating black voters who had once overwhelmingly supported the Clintons, Bill Clinton had tarnished his legacy as the so-called "first black president." Following his wife's significant primary defeat in South Carolina, Clinton again made headlines when he appeared to undermine and racialize Obama's victory by comparing it to Jesse Jackson's failed 1984 bid for the Presidency. Some observers suggested that the controversial comments compelled Senator Ted Kennedy to endorse Senator Obama for the Democratic nomination. By June 2008, when it became clear that Senator Clinton had not won enough delegate support to win her party's nomination, efforts began to reconcile the Obama and Clinton camps for the sake of Democratic unity in the general election. By the Democratic National Convention in late August, Bill Clinton delivered a powerful and rousing endorsement of Senator Obama as the formal party nominee for President, noting that charges of inexperience were leveled at him as well in his 1992 presidential campaign. Hilary Clinton herself publicly moved for the convention delegates to approve Obama's nomination by acclamation.

Selected honors and accolades

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 Wolf Tracks and Peter and the Wolf. Clinton won a second Grammy in February 2005, Best Spoken Word Album for My Life.

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.

The 2005 J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding was awarded to Clinton by the Fulbright Association. Clinton received the award in a ceremony in Washington on April 12, 2006.

In 2005, the University of Arkansas System opened the Clinton School of Public Service on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center.

On March 5, 2006, he received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Pace University, and is the first recipient of the Pace University President's Centennial Award. Also in 2006 Clinton was awarded the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.

On May 13, 2006, Clinton was the commencement speaker along with George H. W. Bush at Tulane University in New Orleans. They both received honorary Doctorates of Laws from Tulane University. Clinton spoke to the students, faculty and alumni of Tulane and of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina that Tulane students had known firsthand.

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

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 US president" and his commitment to the global fight against HIV/AIDS and other health challenges in developing countries.


  1. Bill Clinton. My Life. (New York: Knopf 2004. ISBN 9780375414572)
  2. It All Began in a Place Called Hope. Retrieved July 13, 2007.
  3. Famous Non-Masons masonicinfo.com. Retrieved July 13, 2007.
  4. Bryan Le Beau website, The Political Mobilization of the New Christian Right Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  5. President seeks better implementation of 'don't ask, don't tell' December 11, 1999, CNN Archives. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  6. John Cloud, Washington Monthly, Nov, 1996. Book Review, Stranger Among Friends. by David Mixner. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  7. Washington Blade Editorial: Bush Has Mandate to Let Gays Serve Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  8. Presidential Press Conferenceclintinfoundation.org. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  9. Peter Baker, and John F. Harris, "Clinton Admits to Lewinsky Relationship, Challenges Starr to End Personal 'Prying' " Washington Post, August 18 1998 Clinton Admits to Lewinsky Relationship, Challenges Starr to End Personal 'Prying' Retrieved July 24, 2007
  10. "Clinton Launches NI Peace Initiative." CNN, Dec. 2000, Clinton Launches NI Peace Initiative Retrieved July 24, 2007
  11. Historical Presidential Approval RatingsABC News.
  12. Clinton acquitted; president apologizes again CNN.
  13. Bob Woodward, and Brian Duffy, Chinese Embassy Role In Contributions Probed washingtonpost.com. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  14. Job Performance Ratings for President Clinton Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  15. Bill Clinton: Job Ratings pollingreport.com. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  16. Poll: Clinton's approval rating up in wake of impeachment CNN. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  17. Poll: Clinton outperformed Bush CNN. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  18. A Conversation With President Bill Clinton on Race in America Today americanprogress.org. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  19. Toni Morrison, New Yorker October 1998, Clinton as the first black president.
  20. Clinton's Heart Bypass Surgery Called a Success washingtonpost.com Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  21. stop selling sugared sodas and juice drinkscomcast.net.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Baker, Peter. The Breach: inside the impeachment and trial of William Jefferson Clinton. New York: Scribner 2000. ISBN 9780684868134
  • Blumenthal, Sidney. The Clinton wars. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2003. ISBN 9780374125028
  • Clinton, Bill, My Life. New York: Knopf 2004. ISBN 9780375414572
  • Conason, Joe, and Gene Lyons. The hunting of the president: the ten-year campaign to destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000. ISBN 9780312245474
  • Drew, Elizabeth. On the edge: the Clinton presidency. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. ISBN 9780671871475
  • Hamilton, Nigel. Bill Clinton: an American journey. New York: Random House, 2003. ISBN 9780375506109
  • Harris, John F. The survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House. New York: Random House, 2005. ISBN 9780375508479
  • Isikoff, Michael. Uncovering Clinton: a reporter's story. New York, NY: Crown Publishers, 1999. ISBN 9780609603932
  • Klein, Joe. The natural: the misunderstood presidency of Bill Clinton. New York: Doubleday 2003. ISBN 9780385506199
  • Maraniss, David. First in his class: a biography of Bill Clinton. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. ISBN 9780671871093
  • Stephanopoulos, George. All too human: a political education. Boston: Little, Brown 1999. ISBN 9780316929196

External links

All links retrieved May 10, 2023.

Political offices
Preceded by:
Jim Guy Tucker
Attorney General of Arkansas
1977 – 1979
Succeeded by:
Steve Clark
Preceded by:
Joe Purcell
Governor of Arkansas
1979 – 1981
Succeeded by:
Frank D. White
Preceded by:
Frank D. White
Governor of Arkansas
1983 – 1992
Succeeded by:
Jim Guy Tucker
Preceded by:
Michael Dukakis
Democratic Party presidential nominee
1992 (won), 1996 (won)
Succeeded by:
Al Gore
Preceded by:
George H. W. Bush
President of the United States
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
Succeeded by:
George W. Bush
Preceded by:
Jacques Chirac
Chair of the G8
Succeeded by:
Tony Blair
Preceded by:
George H. W. Bush
United States order of precedence
as of 2006
Succeeded by:
U.S. ambassadors (while at their posts)


New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:

The history of this article since it was imported to New World Encyclopedia:

Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.