Jefferson Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946)
was the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Before
his Presidency, Clinton served five terms as the Governor of Arkansas.
of the Democratic Party, Clinton was generally considered a political
moderate. During his tenure as President, his domestic priorities included
legislation to upgrade education, to restrict handgun sales, to strengthen
environmental rules, and to protect the jobs of parents who must care
for sick children. Internationally, his priorities included reducing
trade barriers and mediating the Northern Ireland and Israeli-Palestinian
was marked by an adversarial relationship with the Republican-controlled
U.S. Congress. He was also the subject of a series of independent counsel
investigations by Congress, resulting in the indictment and/or conviction
of many staff members, associates, and friends. He became only the second
president to be impeached, for perjury before the grand jury and obstruction
of justice  (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c105:3:./temp/~c105UynaA3::),
but he was acquitted by the Senate. He was the third youngest president
and the first of the baby boomer generation. At times his approval rating
was very low, setting a record low in his first year, but upon leaving
office, it was the highest for a retiring President in modern U.S. history.
was the first United States President born after the close of the Second
World War. As such, his assumption of office marked a "generational
shift" from the former Presidents who were mostly World War II
veterans and had experienced the start of the Cold War in the 1950s.
Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III in Hope, Arkansas and
raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was named after his father, William
Jefferson Blythe Jr., a travelling salesman who had been killed in a
car accident in Scott County, Missouri between the towns of Sikeston
and Morley just three months before his son was born. His mother, born
Virginia Dell Cassidy, remarried in 1950 to Roger Clinton. Billy, as
he was called, was raised by his mother and stepfather, using the last
name "Clinton" throughout elementary school, but not formally
changing it until he was 15. Clinton grew up in a turbulent family.
His stepfather was a gambler and alcoholic who regularly abused his
wife, and sometimes Clinton's half brother Roger, Jr. (born 1956).
the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University
in Washington DC, where he became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega, worked
for Senator J. William Fulbright and won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship
to Oxford University in England. After Oxford Clinton attended Yale
Law School where he met his future wife, classmate Hillary Rodham.
law at the University of Arkansas for a few years. During this time,
he ran for the House of Representatives in 1974 against Congressman
John Paul Hammerschmidt. Clinton lost the election by over 6,000 votes.
After his teaching stint, Clinton was elected Attorney General of Arkansas
in 1976. Bill Clinton was first elected governor of the state of Arkansas
in 1978, when at the time he was the youngest state governor in the
United States, and the youngest to be elected to a state governorship
since 1938. His first term was fraught with difficulties, including
an unpopular motor vehicle tax and popular anger over the escape of
Cuban prisoners (from the Mariel Boat Lift) detained in Fort Chafee
Hillary Rodham's decision to keep her maiden name while Arkansas' First
Lady raised many eyebrows in the traditionally conservative state. After
only one term, Clinton was defeated by Republican challenger Frank D.
White in 1980. As he once joked, he was the youngest ex-governor in
the nation's history.
Out of office,
Clinton addressed the concerns that led to his political failure. He
established new relationships with business interests, and made amends
with the political establishment of the state. Hillary took her husband's
surname and adopted a more traditional public role as a political wife,
while quietly establishing herself as a political force in her own right
through her skills as an attorney. Clinton was elected governor again
in 1982, re-elected in 1984, succeeded in getting the state constitution
amended to allow governors four-year terms, then was re-elected in 1986
and 1990, serving until 1992.
business-friendly approach mollified conservative criticism during his
terms as governor. However, several deals the Clintons made during this
period led to the Whitewater investigation, which dogged his later presidential
first major foray into national politics occurred when he was enlisted
to speak at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, introducing candidate
Michael Dukakis. Clinton's address, scheduled to last 15 minutes, became
a debacle as Clinton gave a notoriously dull speech that lasted over
an hour (he joked about the length of this speech at the 1992 convention).
setback, Clinton prepared for a run in 1992 against incumbent president
George H. W. Bush. In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, President
Bush seemed undefeatable, and several potential Democratic candidates
— notably New York Governor Mario Cuomo — passed on what
seemed to be a lost cause. Positioning himself as a straight-talking
everyman, Clinton handily won the Democratic Party's nomination.
U.S. Sen. Albert A. Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.) to be his running mate on July
9, 1992. Initially this decision sparked criticism from strategists
due to the fact that Gore was from Clinton's neighboring state of Tennessee.
In retrospect, many now view Gore as a helpful factor in the successful
opponents raised various "character" issues during the campaign,
including his avoidance of military service during the Vietnam War,
and his glib response to a question about past marijuana use. Allegations
of womanizing and shady business deals also were raised. While none
of these alleged flaws led to Clinton's defeat, they did fuel unusually
vehement opposition to Clinton among many conservatives from the very
beginning of his presidency.
the 1992 presidential election (43.3% of the vote) against Republican
George H. W. Bush (37.7% of the vote) and independent candidate H. Ross
Perot (19.0% of the vote), largely on a platform focusing on domestic
issues, notably the economic recession of the pre-election period —
using the line "It's the economy, stupid!" For more information
about Clinton's campaign, see Bill Clinton presidential campaign, 1992.
the first Democrat to serve two full terms as President since Franklin
D. Roosevelt, though he is the first President since John Kennedy to
have never achieved a majority of the popular vote. His election ended
an era in which the Republican party had controlled the Presidency for
12 consecutive years, and for 20 of the previous 24 years. That election
also brought the Democrats full control of the political branches of
the federal government, including both houses of U.S. Congress as well
as the Presidency, for the first time since the administration of Jimmy
first act as president was to sign executive order 12834 (entitled "Ethics
Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees"), which placed substantial
restrictions upon the ability of his senior political appointees to
lobby their colleagues after they leave office. Clinton rescinded the
order shortly before he left office in executive order 13184 of December
taking office, Clinton fulfilled a campaign promise by signing the Family
and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which required large employers to allow
their employees to take unpaid leave because of a family or medical
emergency. While this action was popular, Clinton's initial reluctance
to fulfill another campaign promise relating to the acceptance of openly
gay members of the military garnered criticism from both the left (for
being too tentative in promoting gay rights) and the right (for being
too insensitive to military life). After much debate, Clinton and the
Pentagon agreed to a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, which
officially remains in effect.
important item on Clinton's legislative agenda, however, was a complex
health care reform plan, the result of a taskforce headed by Hillary
Clinton, aimed at achieving universal coverage. Though initially well-received,
it was ultimately doomed by well-organized opposition from conservatives
and the health insurance industry, who labeled it "socialized medicine".
It was the first major legislative defeat of Clinton's administration.
Clinton was characterized as being a much more "hands on"
president than some of his Republican predecessors. While Bush and Reagan
had operated under what some critics dubbed an Imperial Presidency of
bureaucratic "courtiers," Clinton had much more fickle relationships
with his aides, and did not delegate them significant powers. He went
through four White House Chiefs of Staff — a record number of
men in a position that had once been the epicenter of the Imperial Presidency.
This is not to say that Clinton was without political confidants in
the White House. The First Lady played an active role in helping the
President form policy, and Clinton's two best friends and most loyal
supporters, Democratic spin doctors Paul Begala and James Carville,
could often be seen defending the President's policies in Washington
and the media.
years of Democratic party control under Clinton's leadership, the mid-term
elections in 1994 proved disastrous for the Democrats. They lost control
of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, in large
part due to stalled legislation, including a failed attempt to create
a comprehensive health care system under a plan developed by the First
Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
1994 election, the spotlight shifted to the Contract with America spearheaded
by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The Republican-controlled Congress
and Clinton sparred over the budget, Clinton's vetos resulting in a
series of government shutdowns at a political penalty to the Republicans.
In the 1996
presidential election, Clinton was re-elected receiving 49.2% of the
popular vote over Republican Bob Dole (40.7% of the popular vote) and
Reform candidate Ross Perot (8.4% of the popular vote), while the Republicans
retained control of the Congress losing but a few seats.
a close working relationship with Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of
the United Kingdom, when he was elected in 1997.
in conjunction with a U.S. Congress controlled by the Republican Party
the United States had a balanced federal budget for the first time since
Richard Nixon's presidency in 1969.
He took a
personal interest in The Troubles in Northern Ireland and paid three
visits there while he was president in order to encourage peace. His
involvement set in motion the process that led to the Provisional Irish
Republican Army (PIRA) commencing disarmament on October 23, 2001. By
the beginning of 2005, however, the PIRA declared that it was withdrawing
from the disarmament process.
a UPI story stated that documents discovered in Afghanistan showed that
al-Qaeda may have plotted to kill Clinton toward the end of his term.
administration of President , the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic
well being than at any time in its history. He was the first Democratic
president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term. He could
point to the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest inflation
in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country's history, dropping
crime rates in many places, and reduced welfare roles. He proposed the
first balanced budget in decades and achieved a budget surplus.
failure in his second year of a huge program of health care reform,
President Bill Clinton shifted emphasis, declaring "the era of
big government is over." He sought legislation to upgrade education,
to protect jobs of parents who must care for sick children, to restrict
handgun sales, and to strengthen environmental rules.
Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe IV on August 19, 1946, in
Hope, Arkansas, three months after his father died in a traffic accident.
When he was four years old, his mother wed Roger Clinton, of Hot Springs,
Arkansas. In high school, he took the family name.
excelled as a student and as a saxophone player and once considered
becoming a professional musician. As a delegate to Boys Nation while
in high school, he met President John Kennedy in the White House Rose
Garden. The encounter led him to enter a life of public service.
from Georgetown University and in 1968 won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford
University. He received a law degree from Yale University in 1973, and
entered politics in Arkansas.
defeated in his campaign for Congress in Arkansas's Third District in
1974. The next year he married Hillary Rodham, a graduate of Wellesley
College and Yale Law School.
was elected Arkansas Attorney General in 1976, and won the governorship
in 1978. After losing a bid for a second term, he regained the office
four years later, and served until he defeated incumbent George Bush
and third party candidate Ross Perot in the 1992 presidential race.
his running mate, Tennessee's Senator Albert Gore Jr. represented a
new generation in American political leadership. For the first time
in 12 years both the White House and Congress were held by the same
party. But that political edge was brief; the Republicans won both houses
of Congress in 1994.
as a result of issues surrounding personal indiscretions with a young
woman White House intern, Bill Clinton was the second U.S. president
to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He was tried in the
Senate and found not guilty of the charges brought against him. He apologized
to the nation for his actions and continued to have unprecedented popular
approval ratings for his job as president.
In the world,
he successfully dispatched peace keeping forces to war-torn Bosnia and
bombed Iraq when Saddam Hussein stopped United Nations inspections for
evidence of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
President from 1993 - 2001
August 19, 1946 in Hope, Arkansas
Education: Georgetown University (1968), attended Oxford University
(1968-1970), Yale Law School (1973)
Marriage: Hillary Rodham on October 11, 1975
Children: Chelsea Victoria Clinton (1980)
Career: Lawyer, public official
Political party: Democrat
Writings: Putting People First (1992); Between Hope and History (1996)
Clinton, the young President from Hope, Arkansas, succeeded where no
other Democrat had since FDR: he was reelected to a second term. Clinton
also defied his critics by surviving an array of personal scandals,
turning the greatest fiscal deficit in American history into a surplus,
effectively using American force to stop the murderous "ethnic
cleansing" wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, and presiding over the greatest
level of economic prosperity since the early 1960s. Clinton achieved
these successes despite unrelenting personal attacks from the right-wing
of the Republican Party, the loss of Congress to the Republicans for
the first time in forty years, and a humiliating but unsuccessful impeachment
trial by the U.S. Senate. He fashioned himself as a "New Democrat"
and has frequently been referred to as the "Comeback Kid."
Few presidents have both raised more questions about the standing of
the presidency and simultaneously presided over a longer period of sustained
Road to the
Bill Clinton, whose father died a few months before he was born, wanted
to be President from a very early age. Born in 1946, he attended public
schools in Hot Springs, Arkansas, after moving there from Hope. As a
boy he was obsessed with politics, winning student elections at high
school and later at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Work on
a committee staff of Arkansas Senator William Fulbright and attendance
at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar strengthened his resolve for
a political career. After graduating from Yale Law School, Clinton briefly
taught law at the University of Arkansas. He ran for the United States
House of Representatives and lost, in 1974, and then was elected state
attorney general. In 1978, at the age of thirty-two, he became the youngest
governor in the nation and in Arkansas history. After losing his bid
for reelection, Clinton came back to win four terms, positioning himself
for a shot at the Democratic nomination for President in 1992.
President Bush and upstart independent Ross Perot in 1992 after besting
a large field of fellow Democrats for the nomination. As President-elect,
Clinton vowed to focus on economic issues like a "laser beam,"
working especially to overcome the sluggish growth of the American economy.
He also sought to remake the Democratic Party by focusing on issues
supported by the middle class, such as government spending to stimulate
the economy, tough crime laws, jobs for welfare recipients, and tax
reform that shifted the burden to the rich. At the same time, Clinton
stood firm on certain traditional liberal goals such as converting military
expenditures to domestic purposes, gun control, legalized abortion,
environmental protection, equal employment and educational opportunity,
national health insurance, and gay rights.
Scandal and Success
Clinton stumbled badly in his first term when his complex health care
reform initiative, spearheaded by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton,
was vigorously rejected by Congress. By 1994, Republicans had launched
an aggressive attack on Clintonthat delivered Republican majorities
in both houses of Congress for the first time since 1955. Clinton fought
back by capitalizing on Republican blunders and the nearly fanatical
attacks unleashed on him by his conservative opponents. When Clinton
refused to sign a highly controversial budget passed by the Republican-controlled
Congress, he looked strong and resolute. Congress then generated a shut
down of the federal government to pressure Clinton to back down, but
Clinton remained firm, and the opposition caved in. Most Americans blamed
Congress for the gridlock rather than the President, and Clinton was
decisively reelected in 1996.
two major setbacks during his administration. The first was his failure
to obtain health care reform. The second, and much more damaging to
his place in history, was his impeachment by the House of Representatives
on charges of having lied under oath and having obstructed justice in
the attempted cover-up of his affair with a White House intern, Monica
Lewinsky. The impeachment issue grew out of an independent counsel’s
"Whitewater" investigation of Clinton's financial dealings
in Arkansas, peaking just prior to the midterm elections in 1998. The
American people evidently cared less about the President's marital affairs
or his long-ago financial dealings than about his success in reducing
deficits and obtaining economic prosperity, and found the reactions
of the Republican Congress to be excessive. The Republicans lost seats
in the House, and the Senate thereafter failed to convict Clinton on
the impeachment charges. Nor was the independent counsel able to link
either the President or the First Lady to criminal activities in the
affairs, Clinton succeeded in brokering peace negotiations in Northern
Ireland between warring Catholics and Protestants, and -- after a failed
first attempt at outsting a military dictatorship in Haiti -- in ending
the murderous rule of Haitian leadership. His call for NATO bombings
in Bosnia and Kosovo -- following his earlier reticence at intervening
in the Balkans -- forced the government of Serbia to end its murderous
attacks on Muslims in Bosnia, as well as on ethnic Albanians within
the borders of its Kosovo region. Nevertheless, Clinton failed to mobilize
support to end the genocide in Rwanda, and the peace talks he facilitated
between between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization soon
devolved into a renewed and more lethal round of strife that has yet
Clinton's partner in his political career and marriage, Hillary Rodham
Clinton, emerged as a key player in his administration. With a long
record of professional achievement in Arkansas and beyond, Hillary's
popularity had plummeted after her failure to achieve health care reform
in Clinton’s first term. However, she emerged from the Monica
Lewinsky affair with very high popularity ratings in his second term.
books may well begin by noting that Bill Clinton was the second President
to have been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. However,
they will also likely note his ability to survive and his impact on
the politics, policies, and programs of the United States during the
1990s, including his presiding over an period of rapid economic growth.
Clinton also had a significant influence on the direction of the Democratic
Party, although it is yet unclear how lasting that legacy will be.