Bill Clinton

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Bill Jefferson Clinton
42nd President of the United States
From: January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
Vice President Al Gore
Predecessor George H. W. Bush
Successor George W. Bush
40th and 42nd Governor of Arkansas
From: January 9, 1979 – January 19, 1981; January 11, 1983 – December 12, 1992
Predecessor Joe Purcell (first term)
Frank D. White (second term)
Successor Frank D. White (first term)
Jim Guy Tucker (second term)
50th Attorney General of Arkansas
From: January 3, 1977 – January 9, 1979
Governor David Pryor
Predecessor Jim Guy Tucker
Successor Steve Clark
Party Democratic
Spouse(s) Hillary Rodham Clinton
Religion Baptist

Bill Clinton (formally William Jefferson Clinton; born William Jefferson Blythe III) (b.August 19, 1946), was president of the United States, elected with pluralities in 1992 and 1996. Previously he had served as governor of Arkansas. In the post-Cold War era his administration was characterized by reduced defence spending which produced a budget surplus, lower interest rates and excessive stock and real estate and bubbles. The U.S. House of Representatives impeached Clinton for obstruction of justice and perjury, while the Senate failed along party lines to convict. Clinton later was found in contempt by a federal judge for lying under oath and subsequently barred from ever practising law again.

Like Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, Clinton used his rhetorical skills to achieve political success; he survived in office despite legislative defeats, repeated scandal (he was notorious for his sexist improprieties) and impeachment.[1]

After leaving the White House, he became a very well-paid speaker. His wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was elected to the Senate from New York in 2000 and 2006, and in 2009 became the third female Secretary of State. Clinton was the major fundraiser and campaigner for his wife, but failed to win the African American vote to neutralize Hillary's main opponent, Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.

Early Life

Clinton was born in Hope,[2] Arkansas, a month after his father William Jefferson Blythe II, a salesman, was killed in an auto accident. He was raised by his maternal grandparents until age 4, when his mother Virginia Kelly (1923-1994), a nurse, married Roger Clinton (1909-1967), a car dealer. Roger was an alcoholic and violent; the marriage was tempestuous, including a divorce and a remarriage in 1962. A life-long Southern Baptist, Clinton graduated from the Hot Springs public high school in 1964. He attended Georgetown University in Washington D.C., where he became active in Democratic politics and won prestigious Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in England. He was a bit player in the anti-Vietnam war movement, and managed to stall the draft until he received a high lottery number, an evasion that became controversial in his first presidential campaign. He attended Yale Law School (JD 1973). A hail fellow well met, Clinton developed a vast network of friends. He met Hillary Clinton at Yale; they married in 1975 and had one daughter, Chelsea in 1980.

Arkansas Attorney General and Governor

After returning to Arkansas as a law professor at the university, Clinton was elected state Attorney General in 1976. In 1978, he was elected Governor of Arkansas, becoming the youngest governor in the country at age 32 . Though defeated in 1980, Clinton won back the governorship in 1982 and held it until becoming President in 1992.

Civil Rights violations

In December 1989 a three-judge district federal court held Bill Clinton's state-wide legislative reapportionment plan violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. 1973. 1990 the Supreme Court of the United States found in the case of Clinton vs Jeffers [3] the former Arkansas Governor and Democratic president had violated the Voting Rights Act. The Justices findings were,

Bill Clinton does not dispute here -- that "violations of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment justifying equitable relief have occurred in Arkansas."

In May 1990, the district court turned to those claims, holding that "the State of Arkansas has committed a number of constitutional violations of the voting rights of black citizens." J.S. App. A5. In particular, the court determined that the "State has systematically and deliberately enacted new majority-vote requirements for municipal offices, in an effort to frustrate black political success in elections traditionally requiring only a plurality to win." In 1990...Devotion to majority rule for local offices lay dormant as long as the plurality system produced white office-holders. But whenever black candidates used this system successfully -- and victory by a plurality has been virtually their only chance of success in at-large elections in majority-white cities – the response was swift and certain. Laws were passed in an attempt to close off this avenue of black political victory.

The court concluded

This series of laws represents a systematic and deliberate attempt to reduce black political opportunity. Such an attempt is plainly unconstitutional. It replaces a system in which blacks could and did succeed, with one in which they almost certainly cannot. The inference of racial motivation is inescapable.

Arkansas scandals

Clinton was involved in several scandals while Governor of Arkansas. He converted governmental resources for personal use by having Arkansas state policemen arrange and stand guard during his extramarital rendezvous with women.[4]

His close personal business partnerships with James and Susan McDougall in a failed Savings and Loan business venture led to investigation of the Whitewater affair. Several of the people involved with the sale of land prior to the Clinton presidency were indicted, but prosecutors never charged either Clintons with a crime.

Democratic Leadership Council

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) formed in early 1985 to formulate a moderate Democratic agenda. With Al From as executive director and Georgia Senator Sam Nunn as chairman, DLC comprised mostly Southern Democratic congressmen. They sought to rebuild the party's image after a series of defeats by Reagan and Bush. They wanted to assure voters that the moderate-conservative wing of the party was alive and well, and that its policy initiatives fit with mainstream American values. After the 1988 defeat, From asked Clinton in March 1990 to become the first DLC Chair from outside Washington. He and Clinton recruited state and local officials from around the country for the DLC, trying out some of the policy initiatives developed by the affiliated think tank the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI). Proposals that found their way into Clinton's 1992 platform included:

  • Apprenticeship programs for non-college-bound skilled workers
  • A program of national service for college students (with student loan forgiveness)
  • A ROTC-style program to train new police officers in colleges
  • An enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor
  • Government-subsidized individual savings accounts for Social Security.

The two DLC manifestos and Clinton's 1991 "New Covenant" speech accounted for more than 60% of the promises in the 1992 Democratic platform. [5] Clinton campaigned as a "New Democrat," with an appeal to southerners and moderates that included demands for welfare reform and support for the death penalty.

Election of 1992

After the surge of support for the war policy of President George H.W. Bush pushed his popularity to the 90% level, most prominent Democrats decided to wait out the 1992 election. Clinton, though little known outside Arkansas, proved the best campaigner in a weak field and won he Democratic nomination. Unexpectedly, billionaire Ross Perot entered the race (and briefly led the polls). Both Bush and Perot proved poor campaigners, as Clinton and his running mate Al Gore promised a more responsive government. Republicans tried to use the character issue, questioning his failure to serve in the Vietnam War, repeating rumors of extramarital affairs, and stories of marijuana use in college days. But Bush was handicapped by a bad economy, and was wounded badly by breaking a promise to not raise taxes. Clinton hammered away at the economy--"It's the economy, stupid!" explained his campaign manager. Clinton and Gore ran as "new Democrats", promising to cut middle class taxes, reduce domestic spending, end welfare and support capital punishment. Clinton won the electoral college decisively, and outpolled Bush 43% to 37%, with 19% for Perot.

Clinton thus won easily, and entered Washington with a Democratic Congress and a vague agenda.

Clinton, the first President born after World War II, represented the "baby-boom" generation.

Presidency (1993-2001)

Don't ask don't tell

Main article : Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Upon being elected President, Bill Clinton's first act was to propose and win legislation to enforce the Department of Defense's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" rule. The law passed by the Democratic Congress has been described as a major discriminatory policy which promoted and legitimized homophobia and bigotry. Time magazine reported it caused untold hardship and emotional anguish for thousands of American service personal.[6][7] The Law was found unconstitutional after a suit brought by Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual rights and advocacy organization.[8]

Community Reinvestment Act

Main article: Community Reinvestment Act

Mexican Peso bailout

Bill Clinton's Presidential cabinet
Clinton's first priority while coming into office was the economy. In an attempt to lower interest rates

Taxes increases

Clinton sent Congress a deficit reduction plan in early 1993. However, Clinton's problem was that about half of government money goes to entitlement programs such as social security and medicare. Refusing to cut domestic spending, he increased taxes on gasoline, heating oil, and natural gas, breaking his campaign pledge not to raise tax rates. On Aug. 10, 1993, the largest tax increase in history was signed into law, raising taxes by almost $280 billion over five years.[9] Instead of middle-class tax relief, President Clinton chose to include in his $241 billion tax plan higher federal gasoline taxes, tax hikes on Social Security recipients, and steep income tax hikes on small business owners.[10] Conservatives blocked some proposals, such a new $71 billion BTU energy tax that would have cost the typical family nearly $500 per year.

Tax increases on the elderly

In 1993 President Clinton sought to increase taxes on Social Security benefits of the elderly and disabled.[11] The final version of the bill passed by the Democratically controlled Congress increased taxes on beneficiaries from the first 50% to 85%[12] of benefits (or "annuity payments" as they were originally called). Vice President Al Gore cast the deciding tie-breaker vote in the Senate to make the tax increase law. The Clinton-Gore tax increase on Social Security benefits imposed a 70% income tax rate on a retired couple making as little as $22,000 per year.[13]

Dirty tricks and blackmail

FBI special agent Gary Aldrich reported, James Carville and former Clinton adviser, now ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos confirmed, after the Gingrich revolution of 1994 the Clinton administration ran a dirt-digging operation out of the Office of the White House Chief of Staff. "They hired upwards of 36 lawyers to staff the operation to handle 40 different cases," Aldrich, on White House duty at the time, said. "Once it became known that they had such an operation, then the blackmail itself took place." Carville and Stephanopoulos stated publicly there would be a "scorched-earth policy", and that everyone who had "skeletons in their closet" would be exposed.[14] CNN has reported private divorce papers of Newt Gingrich were indeed removed from what was alleged sealed storage at the Carroll County, Georgia courthouse, "when he (Gingrich) became the center of attention." The documents were later made public by CNN.[15]

In 1995 President Clinton and Congressional Republicans fought a bitter battle over the new federal budget. Clinton vetoed the Republican budget bill, claiming that it cut social programs. Speaker Gingrich believed that Clinton would back down and approve the budget. If not the entire government would shut down because of lack of funds. Clinton allowed just that, and by doing so gained political capital by successfully blaming that shut down on Republicans. Soon afterword, Clinton agreed to the Republican's goal of a balanced budget.

Failed healthcare takeover

Main article: Clinton health care plan of 1993

After ignoring the controversial issue on the campaign stump, one of his first acts in 1993 was a call for an immense overhaul of the nation's medical care system. The Clintons proposed a plan using regional insurance purchasing agencies along with tax subsidies and transfer payments to implement universal coverage. He and his advisers believed the plan would be acceptable to employers and larger insurance companies, but the plan was opposed by popular sentiment and a well-financed campaign. The pla put immense burdens on small business employers, which feared they could not afford it. The insurance industry, doctor organizations, and medical professionals also opposed it. Republicans argued that it was too costly and imposed too great a burden on government. Congressional Democrats were divided on the issue. Faced with public opposition and a two year national debate, the Clinton plan failed without the Democratic Congress even going on record to a vote.

Skocpol (1996) suggests the major mistake may have been in emphasizing the cost-reducing aspect of the plan, not realizing that Americans were willing to pay for a government program that would provide generous benefits to them. The fear that Clinton's proposals would lead to the sort of health care rationing prevalent in Canada and other countries further troubled the voters. Starr (1997) notes that Clinton sought to achieve liberal ends of universal coverage through the conservative means of managed competition among private health plans, with a backup cap on the rate of growth in average insurance premiums. This approach had a political as well as policy rationale. It was meant to be the basis of an alliance that could include conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans and thereby achieve the majorities necessary for congressional passage. But what we saw as compromise, they did not -- especially as the very locus of the political center shifted to the right during the debate. Health care reform that seemed "inevitable" to many serious observers at the start became unthinkable by the end. Polls showed strong initial support, but he never secured passage in either house of Congress and Republican victory in the 1994 elections doomed his plans.

1994 Midterm elections

Clinton's popularity had slipped by 1994 and the GOP, under Newt Gingrich launched a national midterm campaign based on a Republican "Contract with America." They proposed lower taxes, welfare reform, tougher anti-crime laws, term limits for Congress, revised rules in Congress and a balanced budget amendment.

In the elections of 1994, the Democrats lost 54 seats in the House of Representatives, and 8 seats in the Senate (followed by two defections after the election), giving the Republicans a majority in both houses of Congress for the first time since 1954. The Republicans also had a net gain of 12 governors' seats in that election.

Analysts have suggested many causes for the drastic change in political sentiment in the country between 1992 and 1994; among the causes suggested were voter disgust at Congressional scandals mainly implicating Democrats, voter distrust of Clinton after the presentation and defeat of the Clinton health care reform proposal--dubbed "Hillarycare"; the nationalization of the election by Gingrich's "Contract with America", and more skilled framing of issues by the Republicans in 1994.

In their first 100 days the House did pass the Contract with America, however, the GOP Senate failed to go along and Clinton's vetoes defeated the Contract.

1996 Reelection campaign


After the Republicans took control of Congress by the time of the 1996 reelection campaign the economy had improved. Unemployment and inflation was low, American wages increased, crime rates fell, and the number of people on welfare declined. The Republican Party nominated Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole. Ross Perot ran again, this time on the Reform Party, but his day was past. Clinton was reelected in a landslide with 49% of the popular vote, to 41% for Dole, and 8% for Perot. His personal victory had limited coattails, with Republicans retaining a clear majority in the Senate and a narrow majority in the House. It also marked the first time since 1926 and 1928 that the Republican Party carried the House in two consecutive elections.[16]

Clinton voter Coalition

Public Opinion: Clinton's popularity

Needham (2005) argues the "permanent campaign" is said to have reached its apogee in the incumbent communications strategies of Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. However, their assiduous courting of public opinion while in office has been used to explain both the high approval ratings of these leaders and their unpopularity for long periods of their incumbency. This apparent paradox suggests that the permanent campaign model is too blunt an instrument to usefully describe or evaluate incumbent communications. Its assumption of continuity between election campaigning and office-holding fails to explain how the strategic terrain changes once a challenger takes office. The concepts of branding and relationship marketing can be used to highlight the difference between gaining support in the one-off transaction of an election and retaining voter loyalty in a post-"purchase" setting. The success of Blair and Clinton in establishing a relationship with voters from within office can be assessed using six attributes of successful brands: simplicity, uniqueness, reassurance, aspiration, values, and credibility. As incumbents, facing challenges in shifting strategic and institutional environments, Blair and Clinton developed messages that were simple and appealed to voter aspirations. Voters remained skeptical about the extent to which these leaders embodied values and delivered on their promises.

Suspicions often arose during Clinton's tenure about the timing of cruise missile attacks to manipulate public sympathy at crucial points when his approval ratings sagged. On several occasions [17] generally when the approval ratings dipped to 47%, surprise cruise missile attacks[18] were launched which resulted in a 10 point gain in the public opinion polls. Nick Gillespie of Reason remarked,

Consider, for instance, the relative lack of scrutiny accorded the August 20 cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan … immediately after the bombing, polls showed that close to half of all Americans thought the missile strikes were meant to divert attention from the president's sex life… the Sudanese bombing suggests something else as well: If and when the public's and the media's attention shifts from the president's sex life to wider-ranging inquiries about how he makes deadly serious policy decisions…"[19]

Voter demographics

Bill Clinton
1994 cartoon by Tom Toles shows Clinton was all things to all people
The Presidential Vote in Social Groups (percentages)
% of
% of 3-party vote
1992 1996
Social group Clinton Bush Perot Clinton Dole Perot
Total vote 43 38 19 49 41 8
Party and ideology
2 Liberal Republicans 17 54 30 44 48 9
13 Moderate Republicans 15 63 21 20 72 7
21 Conservative Republicans 5 82 13 6 88 5
4 Liberal Independents 54 17 30 58 15 18
15 Moderate Independents 43 28 30 50 30 17
7 Conservative Independents 17 53 30 19 60 19
13 Liberal Democrats 85 5 11 89 5 4
20 Moderate Democrats 76 9 15 84 10 5
6 Conservative Democrats 61 23 16 69 23 7
Gender and marital status
33 Married men 38 42 21 40 48 10
33 Married women 41 40 19 48 43 7
15 Unmarried men 48 29 22 49 35 12
20 Unmarried women 53 31 15 62 28 7
83 White 39 40 20 43 46 9
10 Black 83 10 7 84 12 4
5 Hispanic 61 25 14 72 21 6
1 Asian 31 55 15 43 48 8
46 White Protestant 33 47 21 36 53 10
29 Catholic 44 35 20 53 37 9
3 Jewish 80 11 9 78 16 3
17 Born Again, religious right 23 61 15 26 65 8
17 18–29 years old 43 34 22 53 34 10
33 30–44 years old 41 38 21 48 41 9
26 45–59 years old 41 40 19 48 41 9
24 60 and older 50 38 12 48 44 7
6 Not a high school graduate 54 28 18 59 28 11
24 High school graduate 43 36 21 51 35 13
27 Some college education 41 37 21 48 40 10
26 College graduate 39 41 20 44 46 8
17 Post graduate education 50 36 14 52 40 5
Family income
11 Under $15,000 58 23 19 59 28 11
23 $15,000–$29,999 45 35 20 53 36 9
27 $30,000–$49,999 41 38 21 48 40 10
39 Over $50,000 39 44 17 44 48 7
18 Over $75,000 36 48 16 41 51 7
9 Over $100,000 38 54 6
23 East 47 35 18 55 34 9
26 Midwest 42 37 21 48 41 10
30 South 41 43 16 46 46 7
20 West 43 34 23 48 40 8
Community size
10 Population over 500,000 58 28 13 68 25 6
21 Population 50,000 to 500,000 50 33 16 50 39 8
39 Suburbs 41 39 21 47 42 8
30 Rural areas, towns 39 40 20 45 44 10

Source: Voter News Service exit poll, reported in The New York Times, November 10, 1996, p. 28.

Second term

With the Cold War over, the economy proved highly prosperous, and after the Republicans won control of Congress the budget was not only balanced but a surplus was produced for the first time in memory. The reasons include reduction in defense spending after the Cold War (from 5% of GDP to 3%), a revenue burst from the dot-com bubble (the short-lived overexpansion of high tech), restraints on spending imposed by Newt Gingrich and the GOP Congress, and the fruition of Reagan era tax cuts for business research and development in the consumer electronics (computer and cell phone) industry.


On August 17, 1998, after relentless media attention, leaks, and news of White House intern Monica Lewinsky's upcoming testimony regarding her extramarital affair with the President, Clinton made history by becoming the first U.S. president to testify in front of a grand jury in an investigation of his own possibly criminal conduct. In an address to the nation, he admitted to having misled the public and a Federal Court over keys elements of testimony. Kenneth Starr, a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the case, was instructed to pursue the matter.


In the second term Clinton was accused of perjury when he lied under oath during the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. In the end Clinton was impeached in the House and was tried in the Senate for two counts: "perjury" and "obstruction of justice".[20] Although a majority of 55 Senators voted to convict, a minority of 45 Senators gained his acquittal, a two thirds majority being necessary to remove him from office. Speaker Gingrich, who had promised Republicans that impeachment would be a success, had failed badly and was forced to resign and left Congress. The Republican next in line resigned, admitting he too had committed adultery.

David Gergen, former White House Communications Director for both Presidents Reagan and Clinton, summarized the hurt of the President's misconduct:

The deep and searing violation took place when he not only lied to the country, but co-opted his friends and lied to them....when you have gone over the line, you won't bring others into it...You don't foul the nest."[21]

Clinton lost his law license in Arkansas because he had committed perjury before a Federal judge.

It was during this scandal that Clinton famously stated: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is".[22]

Performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average since Clinton asked to privatize Social Security; Clinton made his proposal at or near the top of the investment cycle when stocks were overvalued, prior to the crash.

Repeal of Glass-Steagall Act

Proposal to privatize Social Security

In 1999 President Clinton proposed investing the Social Security Trust Fund in what some might consider "risky" assets in the stock market and bonds. The stock market then was in the late stages of a bull market cycle with stock prices and indexes overvalued. Clinton told a joint meeting fo the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate,

I propose that we commit 60 percent of the budget surplus for the next 15 years to Social Security, investing a small portion in the private sector, just as any private or State Government pension would do.[23]

Foreign Policy

Critics of Clinton argued that he lacked a knowledge of world affairs. In his 1992 speech at the Democrat National Convention, he devoted one minute to foreign policy issues in an oration that lasted an hour. [24] Clinton entered office after the U.S. won the Cold War, and the U.S. was the only superpower. There were no major foreign crisis during his presidency. His foreign policy was based on five principles: 1) strong alliances with Europe and Asia, 2) positive relations with former adversaries, 3) a global perspective on local conflicts, 4) the adaptation of national security priorities to incorporate technological advances, and 5) effective economic integration.[25]

Butfoy (2006) argues that in the 1990s the "revolution in military affairs" (RMA), which produced "smart" weapons like cruise missiles, came of age. This apparently transformed how America viewed the relationship between force and international relations. It looked as though technology was framing foreign policy. In particular, smart weapons enabled Clinton to combine risk minimization with an expanded security agenda. However, we should be wary of ascribing technological determinism to the conflicts of the 1990s dominated by Washington's flexing of its strategic superiority, such as its bombing of Belgrade. As shown by comparison with US strategy after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Washington's stance in the 1990s was shaped by linkages between technology and specific political circumstances. As these circumstances changed, so did the RMA's place in US efforts to shape world order.

North Korean nukes

From 1985 to 1992, N. Korea "bought time" for its nuclear weapons program by entering into a series of international diplomatic agreements under which it promised to "deweaponize" its reactors and halt further production of plutonium. By Clinton's second, however, N. Korea had violated the terms of most of the non-proliferation agreements and withdrew from the rest.

Clinton forged an agreement with Kim Il-sung that the North would temporarily halt its signed on Oct. 21, 1994 known as the "Agreed Framework."[26]

In addition to the oil supplied under the 1994 Agreed Framework, North Korea continued to the United States and other countries for free, unconditional food aid while eschewing any real reform of its Stalinist agricultural system. [27]

By 2000, the United States contribution of food and other forms of humanitarian aid to North Korea had amounted to over $61 million.

Human Rights

Supporters of human rights faulted Clinton’s ideological transition from Wilsonian idealism to realism, especially regarding China and Bosnia. They gave high marks for his efforts at pushing peace negotiations in Haiti and the Middle East, the use of economic sanctions against North Korea, India, and Pakistan, and his efforts to get a chemical weapons convention. However, they give low marks in terms of human rights for inaction on the genocide in Rwanda and the Russian repression of secessionist Chechnya.

NATO and Eastern Europe

Much attention was devoted to Eastern Europe.

Clinton actively promoted the expansion of NATO to the east, over the objections of Russia. Russia wanted to maintain some degree of control over its former satellites, and they wanted true independence. The NATO expansion was a political decision. An expanded NATO gave full play to political functions aimed at merging East European nations into NATO and bringing about their transformation into Western-style political and economic systems. NATO members will continue to work toward containing Russia if it fails to integrate itself into the West and returns to its traditional expansionist practices. The Russian transformation and NATO's adjustment influenced each other.


With the breakup of Yugoslavia civil wars erupted leading to genocide. With NATO support--but without UN approval--Clinton sent in the US Air Force to launch air strikes on Serbs in Bosnia and later deployed twenty thousand troops. The goal was to protect Muslim Bosnians from genocidal attacks from the Serbs. The policy eventually worked in Bosnia but later had to be extended to nearby Kosovo. Clinton briefly consulted Congress, but promised the troops would soon leave. They remained for years.


There was no internationally significant human rights crisis in Kosovo immediately prior to the NATO bombardment that justified its intervention on behalf of the ethnic-Albanian population. The problems of warfare that existed in Kosovo were largely a result of Clinton's support for the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a narco-terrorist organization[28] linked to al Qaeda, with the intent of causing a crisis that justified intervention. The intervention was not humanitarian. NATO failed to produce evidence of massacres approaching anywhere near its claims. The intervention was illegal, destructive, and based on fraudulent claims.[29]


But for the efforts of President Clinton and his administration, and his special envoy Senator George Mitchell, the Good Friday Agreement (1998) reached between the British government, Irish republicans, and Ulster unionists would be impossible and the troubles would still be going on.

Middle East

There was little progress in the Middle East, where US support for Israel angered the Arabs. While Clinton made some accomplishments, including the 1993 Oslo Accords, the death of Israel’s prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 slowed the peace process. The election of Ehud Barak as prime minister in May 1999 appeared to give the president his last chance to achieve a foreign policy success. A meeting at Camp David between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Barak in December 2000 produced a plan to create a Palestinian state in about 95% of the West Bank and Gaza. The plan was not accepted by the public on either side. President Clinton's hesitant political style was partially responsible for the lack of a lasting peace settlement.====Japan==== Relations with Japan, the main American ally in Asia, started off poorly. Yet by 2000, both sides realized how important friendship was, and this led to a redefinition and strengthening of the US-Japanese alliance. Although some changes have occurred in the asymmetry of power in the post-Cold War alliance with the relationship becoming less unequal, US interests still dominate, for the weakness of the Japanese economy limited its self confidence.


Clinton started off with heavy criticism of the lack of human rights in China. The main issue was Most Favored Nation (MFN) trade status for China, favored by China and American business and farm interests but strongly opposed by religious and human rights groups. Clinton's policy, which began with a 1993 executive order to make MFN status conditional on Chinese reforms, changed as the importance of a trade relationship with China forced the issue to be separated from the government's human rights policies.

He adjusted his China policy in 1996 and advocated dialogue and engagement; this led to improved relations. But Washington continued to criticize China on the issues of Hong Kong, human rights, trade, arms sales, Taiwan, and questionable political donations to US election campaigns. President Jiang Zemin's visit to the United States regained the momentum and led to a level of cooperation between the two countries not seen in years. The major factors affecting the relationship include: the enduring impact of the 1989 Tiananmen episode when the Communist Party crushed a democratic movement with the army; the negative coverage of China by American media, American psychological insecurity caused by the rise of China, and US domestic politics which has a love-hate relationship with China (loving to buy cheap Chinese products while watching competing American factories shut down.)


Relations with India were expected to improve following the end of the Cold War. They did not do so as both sides mishandled relations. The contradictory policies of the Clinton administration that simultaneously pressured India to liberalize its economy while criticizing New Delhi on human rights and nuclear issues undermined the very officials who strove to improve ties. In the face of criticism from Washington and opposition at home, Indian diplomats lost their enthusiasm for rapprochement. The controversy that surrounded the passage of the Brown Amendment, which restored aid to Pakistan in 1995 despite Islamabad's violation of the 1985 Pressler Amendment, is a case study of the delicate nature of the Indo-American relationship. In resurrecting Cold War rhetoric, Indian parliamentarians and American congressmen demonstrated their unwillingness to establish a new relationship. However the George W. Bush administration reversed policy and developed close, friendly ties to India.


Relations with Canada went smoothly. Thanks to the precedent set by the Brian Mulroney government and the administration of George H.W. Bush in the resolution of issues such as the acid rain problem and the Pacific salmon dispute. A friendly relationship between the Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien and Clinton helped, as did the strong economic growth enjoyed by both countries. In addition, there were multilateral and bilateral institutions in place, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, to resolve some major disagreements. However, the relationship faces a number of challenges in the future. While concerns about ballistic missile attacks and threats of international terrorism are priorities for Americans, Canadians do not share those concerns but view the importation of American culture into their country with trepidation, and there are no institutional structures in place to resolve disagreements on these particular issues.

Mexico and NAFTA

Clinton, with GOP help, passed a free trade agreement over the objection of most Democrats and labor unions. The implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) generated political disagreements and stress in Mexico, involving issues of economics, labor unions, environmentalism, and international power. Mexico's financial crisis of 1993-95, which led to peso devaluation and new dislocations in that country, and disputes between Clinton and the Congress also exacerbated NAFTA's implementation. Nonetheless, the positive consequences of NAFTA included increases in Mexican imports to the United States and shifts in the trade balance in Mexico's favor.


Clinton tried to contain Iraq, and used military attacks to make the point. Clinton launched a small cruise missile attack against Iraq in 1993 as a response to a suspected terrorist assassination attempt made on former President George H. W. Bush in Kuwait. In 1998, Clinton threatened military action when Iraq denied full access to UN weapons inspectors.


In Africa, Clinton expressed the exasperation of he American public after decades of single-party rule involving massive misuse and pillage of the continent's resources by local dictators. Clinton called for an end to protected European economic and commercial zones and for open competition on terms that would gradually eliminate African dependency. The Americans, in an effort to promote both democracy and prosperity, urged the African political class to create regimes in their states responsible to the people, to accept participation by opposition parties, and to install rigorous accounting and management procedures. Congress and public opinion supported the new initiatives, which involved much less public assistance to Africa and a great deal more private investment and mutually profitable trade. Essentially, American policy challenged African leaders to undertake reforms that would make them artisans of their own futures.

Al-Qaeda terrorism

The Arab terrorist group al-Qaeda conducted a World Trade Center bombing in 1993, simultaneous bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. Clinton bombed al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan in response, but meanwhile 19 terrorists were plotting an even more ghastly attack on America which took place on September 11, 2001, eight months after Clinton left office.

Terrorist pardons

On August 11, 1999, President Clinton offered clemency to members of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) terrorist group. [30] On January 24, 1975 the FALN bombed Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan killing four people. Over a six-year period, the group claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings that took six lives and injured some 130 people.[31] Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder was credited with with an "unconscionable" effort to circumvent the standard pardon process, not consulting with the Department of justice's pardon attorney and keeping deliberations hidden from the district U.S. attorney and investigative agencies. Weather Underground terrorists Linda Evans and Susan Rosenberg were also pardoned.[32]


Of the $1.6 million Clinton earned in salary[33] as President for 8 years, Clinton agreed to pay $850,000,[34] or more than 53% in a legal settlement with Paula Jones to satisfy claims for damages to her reputation.

Every President since William Howard Taft in 1910 has served as Honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America during his term in office. In 2000 it was reported the Boy Scouts national office revoked the title afforded to Bill Clinton after thousands of complaints. Numerous Eagle Scouts returned their certificates of achievement bearing Clinton's signature and requested a replacement without it.[35]


Clinton has spent much of time since leaving office working for charitable causes such as support and fund-raising for the victims of AIDS and the Asian tsunami. In the case of the Indian Ocean tsunami, he teamed with former president George H.W. Bush to raise money for relief efforts.

Bill Clinton's wife, Hillary Clinton, was elected Senator to New York in 2000. She was reelected in 2006. She made a failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

Clinton has been criticized by both liberals and conservatives for his actions in his wife's presidential campaign. Time called him "his wife's attack dog". [36] Although he had signed up most black leaders to support Hillary, the great majority of Black voters went for Obama. Clinton was accused of racism by implying that many voters chose Obama for reasons of race, rather than policy, saying that he succeeding in some regions for the same reason Jesse Jackson did.

After Obama refused to give Hillary the Vice Presidential nomination, both Clintons loyally campaigned for Obama. Obama easily defeated Senator John McCain, and named Hillary Secretary of State. Bill Clinton has maintained a low profile in 2009.


Basic reading

  • Berman, William C. From the Center to the Edge: The Politics and Policies of the Clinton Presidency (2001) 160pp, useful summary and interpretation
  • Campbell, Colin, and Bert A. Rockman, eds. The Clinton Legacy 348 pp online edition
  • Clinton, Bill. My Life. (2004). ISBN 0-375-41457-6. excerpt and text search
  • Felsenthal, Carol. Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House‎ (2008) 386 pages
  • Gillon, Steve. The pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the rivalry that defined a generation‎ (2008) 342 pages, by a leading historian; excerpt and text search
  • Hamilton, Nigel. Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency (2007) covers 1993-96, 766pp excerpt and text search
  • Harris, John F. The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House (2005) ISBN 0-375-50847-3, the best coverage of the presidency excerpt and text search
  • Hyland, William G. Clinton's World: Remaking American Foreign Policy (1999) ISBN 0-275-96396-9 online edition
  • Klein, Joe. The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton (2003) by leading journalist online excerpt and search; excerpt and text search
  • Levy, Peter. Encyclopedia of the Clinton Presidency (2002), 400pp; 230 well-balanced articles
  • Maraniss, David, First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton (1996) ISBN 0-684-81890-6. Biography to 1991. excerpt and text search
  • Posner, Richard A. An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton (1999) ISBN 0-674-00080-3 online edition
  • Schantz, Harvey L. Politics in an Era of Divided Government: Elections and Governance in the Second Clinton Administration (2001) online edition
  • Schier, Steven E. The Postmodern Presidency: Bill Clinton's Legacy in U.S. Politics (2000) excerpt and text search

Biographical and Presidential

  • Barber, Benjamin. The Truth of Power: Intellectual Affairs in the Clinton White House‎ (2008) 336 pages excerpt and text search
  • Berman, William C. From the Center to the Edge: The Politics and Policies of the Clinton Presidency (2001) 160pp, useful summary and interpretation
  • Campbell, Colin, and Bert A. Rockman, eds. The Clinton Legacy 348 pp online edition
  • Congressional Quarterly. Congress and the Nation 1993-1997: A Review of Government and Politics: 103rd and 104th Congresses (1998); Congress and the Nation 1997-2001: A Review of Government and Politics: 105th and 106th Congresses (2002). Highly detailed nonpartisan coverage (1200 pp each) of all political issues, including presidency
  • Gillon, Steve. The pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the rivalry that defined a generation‎ (2008) 342 pages, by a leading historian; excerpt and text search
  • Hamilton, Nigel. Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency (2007) covers 1993-96, 766pp excerpt and text search* Harris, John F. The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House (2005) ISBN 0-375-50847-3, the best coverage of the presidency excerpt and text search
  • Klein, Joe. The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton (2003) by leading journalist online excerpt and search; excerpt and text search
  • Levy, Peter. Encyclopedia of the Clinton Presidency (2002), 400pp; 230 well-balanced articles
  • Schantz, Harvey L. Politics in an Era of Divided Government: Elections and Governance in the Second Clinton Administration (2001) online edition
  • Schier, Steven E. The Postmodern Presidency: Bill Clinton's Legacy in U.S. Politics (2000) excerpt and text search

Clinton to 1992

  • Abbott, Philip. "A 'Long and Winding Road': Bill Clinton and the 1960s," Rhetoric & Public Affairs 9.1 (2006) 1-20 in Project Muse
  • Borrelli, Stephen A. "Finding the Third Way: Bill Clinton, the DLC, and the Democratic Platform of 1992," Journal of Policy History Vol. 13#4 (2001), pp. 429-462 in Project Muse
  • Goldman, Peter L. et al, Quest for the Presidency, 1992 (1994) online edition
  • Maraniss, David, First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton (1996) ISBN 0-684-81890-6. Biography to 1991. excerpt and text search

Foreign Policy

  • Butfoy, Andrew. "The Rise and Fall of Missile Diplomacy? President Clinton and the 'Revolution in Military Affairs' in Retrospect." Australian Journal of Politics and History 2006 52(1): 98-114. Issn: 0004-9522 Fulltext: in Ebsco online complete editon
  • Cohen, Warren I. America's Failing Empire: U.S. Foreign Relations since the Cold War. 2005. 204 pp.
  • Davis; John. "The Evolution of American Grand Strategy and the War on Terrorism: Clinton and Bush Perspectives" White House Studies, Vol. 3, 2003
  • Hendrickson, Ryan C. The Clinton Wars: The Constitution, Congress, and War Powers (2002)
  • Hyland, William G. Clinton's World: Remaking American Foreign Policy (1999) ISBN 0-275-96396-9 online edition
  • Jewett, Aubrey W. and Marc D. Turetzky. "Stability and Change in President Clinton's Foreign Policy Beliefs, 1993-96" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 28, 1998 online edition
  • Livingston, C. Don, Kenneth A. Wink; "The Passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the U.S. House of Representatives: Presidential Leadership or Presidential Luck?" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, 1997 online edition
  • Maclean, George A. Clinton's Foreign Policy in Russia: From Deterrence and Isolation to Democratization and Engagement (2006) excerpt and text search

Domestic Policy

  • Edwards; George C. "Bill Clinton and His Crisis of Governance" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 28, 1998 in Questia
  • Fisher; Patrick. "Clinton's Greatest Legislative Achievement? the Success of the 1993 Budget Reconciliation Bill" White House Studies, Vol. 1, 2001 in Questia
  • Greenspan, Alan. The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (2007), memoir by head of Federal Reserve and text search
  • Harris, John F. The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House. (2005) covers the major policy issues excerpt and text search
  • Lanoue, David J. and Craig F. Emmert; "Voting in the Glare of the Spotlight: Representatives' Votes on the Impeachment of President Clinton" Polity, Vol. 32, 1999
  • Needham, Catherine. "Brand Leaders: Clinton, Blair and the Limitations of the Permanent Campaign." Political Studies 2005 53(2): 343-361. Issn: 0032-3217 Fulltext: in Ebsco
  • Nie; Martin A. "'It's the Environment, Stupid!': Clinton and the Environment" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, 1997 online edition
  • Patterson, James T. Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush vs. Gore (2005) excerpt and text search
  • Poveda; Tony G. "Clinton, Crime, and the Justice Department" Social Justice, Vol. 21, 1994 online edition
  • Renshon; Stanley A. The Clinton Presidency: Campaigning, Governing, and the Psychology of Leadership Westview Press, 1995
  • Schantz, Harvey L. Politics in an Era of Divided Government: Elections and Governance in the Second Clinton Administration (2001) ISBN 0-8153-3583-0
  • Stiglitz, Joseph E. The Roaring Nineties: A New History of the World's Most Prosperous Decade (2004) economic history; excerpt and text search
  • Wattenberg; Martin P. "The Democrats' Decline in the House during the Clinton Presidency: An Analysis of Partisan Swings" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 29, 1999 online edition

Polls, campaign, images, character, scandals

  • Blaney, Joseph R. and William L. Benoit. The Clinton Scandals and the Politics of Image Restoration, (2001) excerpt and text search online edition
  • Borrelli, Stephen A. "Finding the Third Way: Bill Clinton, the DLC, and the Democratic Platform of 1992," Journal of Policy History Vol. 13, #4 (2001), pp. 429-462 in Project Muse
  • Cohen; Jeffrey E. "The Polls: Change and Stability in Public Assessments of Personal Traits, Bill Clinton, 1993-99" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 31, 2001
  • Cronin, Thomas E. and Michael A. Genovese; "President Clinton and Character Questions" Presidential Studies Quarterly Vol. 28, 1998
  • Denton Jr. Robert E. The 1992 Presidential Campaign: A Communication Perspective, (1994) online edition
  • Denton Jr. Robert E. The 1996 Presidential Campaign: A Communication Perspective, (1998) online edition
  • Denton Jr. Robert E. and Rachel L. Holloway, eds. The Clinton Presidency: Images, Issues, and Communication Strategies, 1996 online edition
  • Denton Jr. Robert E. and Rachel L. Holloway, eds. Images, Scandal, and Communication Strategies of the Clinton Presidency (2003) excerpt and text search
  • Glad; Betty. "Evaluating Presidential Character" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 28, 1998 online edition
  • Maurer; Paul J. "Media Feeding Frenzies: Press Behavior during Two Clinton Scandals" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 29, 1999 online edition
  • O'Connor; Brendon. "Policies, Principles, and Polls: Bill Clinton's Third Way Welfare Politics 1992-1996" The Australian Journal of Politics and History, Vol. 48, 2002
  • Posner, Richard A. An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton (1999) ISBN 0-674-00080-3 online edition
  • Renshon, Stanley A. "The Polls: The Public's Response to the Clinton Scandals, Part 1: Inconsistent Theories, Contradictory Evidence" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 32, 2002 online edition
  • Renshon; Stanley A. The Clinton Presidency: Campaigning, Governing, and the Psychology of Leadership (1995) online edition
  • Starr, Kenneth. The Starr Report: The Findings of Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr on President Clinton and the Lewinsky Affair (1998) ISBN 1-891620-24-X
  • Whittington, Keith E. "The Rhetorical Presidency, Presidential Authority and President Clinton," Perspectives on Political Science, Vol. 26, 1997
  • Waldman, Michael. POTUS Speaks: Finding the Words That Defined the Clinton Presidency (2000) ISBN 0-7432-0020-9
  • Wattier; Mark J. "The Clinton Factor: The Effects of Clinton's Personal Image in 2000 Presidential Primaries and in the General Election" White House Studies, Vol. 4, 2004
  • Weisberg, Herbert F., and Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier. Reelection 1996: How Americans Voted, 1999 online edition

Health reform

  • Blendon, R. J., M. Brodie, and J. Benson. "What Happened to Americans' Support of the Clinton Plan?" Health Affairs 1995. 14(2):7-23. online edition, analysis of poll data
  • Fox, Daniel M. "A Lost Cause: Bill Clinton's Campaign for National Health Insurance, and: The Road to Nowhere: The Genesis of President Clinton's Plan for Health Security," Bulletin of the History of Medicine vol. 73, # 2, Summer 1999, pp. 367-369 in Project Muse
  • Laham, Nicholas, A Lost Cause: Bill Clinton's Campaign for National Health Insurance (1996) online edition
  • Rushefsky, Mark E. and Kant Patel. Politics, Power & Policy Making: The Case of Health Care Reform in the 1990s (1998) excerpt and text search
  • Skocpol, Theda. Boomerang: Clinton's Health Security Effort and the Turn Against Government in U.S. Politics, (1996) excerpt and text search

Primary sources



  1. Whittington (1997)
  2. Mike Huckabee was born in Hope in 1955, but did not know Clinton.
  3. Findings of the Supreme Court of the United States in Clinton vs Jeffers No. 90-394 (1990) on appeal 730 F. Supp. 196, 198-201 (ED Ark. 1989) (three-judge court), aff'd, No. 89-2008 (Jan. 7, 1991).
  4. Thomas C. Reeves, Why Troopergate matters to voters, Insight on the News, April 4, 1994.
  5. Borrelli, 432-35
  9. J.D. Foster, Ph.D. Tax Cuts, Not the Clinton Tax Hike, Produced the 1990s Boom, The Heritage Foundation, March 4, 2008.
  10. The President's Forgotten Middle Class, Joint Economic Committee, Majority Staff, 3/22/96.
  13. Congressional Record, Comments by Rep. Christopher Cox, July 27, 2000.
  17. The Facts About Clinton and Terrorism, Byron York, National Review Online, September 11, 2006.
  18. Airstrikes Against Iraq: 'What Happens Now?', U.S. Information Agency Daily Digest, December 21, 1998.
  19. Bombs Away - Troubling questions about the U.S. attack on Sudan, Reason, December 1998.
  20. The House turned down two other counts: "abuse of power" as well as another count of "perjury" in connection with the Paula Jones case.
  21. In Washington, That Letdown Feeling, By Sally Quinn, The Washington Post, November 2, 1998, Page E01
  23. President Bill Clinotn's 1999 State of the Union Address, January 19, 1999. Retrieved from 19 August 2010.
  24. The Presidents by David Maraniss, Pg. 626
  25. Samuel R. Berger, "A Foreign Policy for the Global Age," Foreign Affairs 2000 79(6): 22-39. 0015-7120
  30. U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee testimony available at, The Tampa Tribune, S.J.Res. 33 (passed 95-2).
  31. Clinton Pardons Terror, New York Post, August 13, 1999. retrieve from September 14, 2007.
  32. Confirming Fears, Editorial, National Review Online, November 19, 2008.
  35. Eagle Scouts drop Clinton signature,, August 24, 2000.