Bill Clinton

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William Jefferson Clinton (Democrat) was the 42nd President of the United States, from 1993-2001. He was born August 19, 1946 in Hope, Arkansas and raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was named after his father, William Jefferson Blythe II, who had been killed in a car accident just three months before his son was born.

Clinton was raised by his mother and stepfather, rising from poverty to attend Georgetown University and Yale Law School. He also attended England's prestigious Oxford University, on a Rhodes Scholarship.

Clinton was the first Democrat to serve two full terms as President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His election ended an era in which the Republican party had controlled the Presidency for 12 consecutive years, and for 20 of the previous 24 years. That election also brought the Democrats full control of the political branches of the federal government, including both houses of Congress as well as the Presidency, for the first time since the administration of Jimmy Carter.

After two years of Democratic party control under the leadership of President Clinton, the mid-term elections in 1994 proved disastrous for the Democrats. They lost control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. This result was in large part the result of a failed attempt to create a comprehensive government-controlled health care system under a plan developed by the first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

He was impeached in 1999 by the House of Representatives, but not convicted by the Senate, mainly for perjury -- lying under oath to a Grand Jury regarding matters related to his sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky (uncovered by an investigation into the unrelated Whitewater Scandal).

Most of Clinton's presidency was overshadowed by the Ken Starr-led Whitewater investigation. The investigation, which originally dealt with a failed land deal years earlier, eventually expanded to include the suicide of his friend Vince Foster, an alleged sexual encounter with a woman named Paula Jones (who later admitted to taking money from extreme-conservative political groups), "Troopergate"- in which an Arkansas State Trooper claimed to have arranged sexual encounters for then Governor Clinton (claims the State Trooper later recanted among admissions he had taken money from the extreme-conservative tabloid "American Spectator") and his sexual encounters with Monica Lewinsky.

He developed a close working relationship with Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, when he was elected in 1997.

He paid a personal interest in The Troubles in Northern Ireland and paid three visits there while he was president in order to encourage peace. This helped both sides in the divided community there to begin to talk, setting in motion the process that lead to the Provisional Irish Republican Army commencing disarmament on October 23rd 2001.

In 1999, in conjunction with a Congress controlled by the Republican party he balanced the US budget for the first time since 1969.

Bill Clinton was governor of the state of Arkansas for six terms, one from 1978 to 1980 and the rest from 1982 to 1992.

Major legislation he signed

  • Creation of the Americorps volunteer program
  • 1994 Crime Bill Expansion - as part of an omnibus crime bill, the federal death penalty was expanded to some 60 different offenses
  • Brady bill
  • Telecom bill, which eliminated major ownership restrictions for radio and television groups.
  • Communications Decency Act
  • Welfare Reform
  • Minimum Wage increase
  • Defense of marriage act, allowed states the power to not recognize gay marriages granted in other states, among other things

Supreme Court appointments

Major legislation he vetoed

  • Republican 1996 national budget (leading to a temporary government shutdown)
  • H.R. 1833, partial birth abortion ban

Major legislation he failed to get passed through Congress

  • Healthcare Reform - appointed a committee headed by Hillary Clinton to come up with a universal health care plan. Complexity and resistance from the insurance and the medical establishment resulted in lack of support, although the plan is widely viewed as groundbreaking- the 2000 presidential election featured both a Republican and Democrat who included National Healthcare Reform in their platforms.


  • Social Security Reform - appointed a committee on Social Security Reform and then dismissed their recommendations without ever proposing legislation.
  • Tried to get Ehud Barak of Israel and Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Council to agree to a final settlement agreement.
  • Initiated the Don't ask, don't tell policy toward gays in the military, 1993.


  • April 19, 1993 - government siege on the Branch Davidian coumpound at Waco, Texas results in the death of 80 people - Republicans blame Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno, rather than cult leader David Koresh
  • July 20, 1993 - Clinton friend and confidant Vince Foster commits suicide during the height of the Whitewater investigation
  • April 19, 1995 - Bombing of federal building in Oklahoma City results in the death of 168 people
  • December, 1995 - Clinton organizes the Dayton Peace Accords at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, temporarily bringing a cease fire to the Balkan States
  • November, 1996 - Clinton is re-elected, defeating Republican challenger Bob Dole
  • October, 1997 - Visit by Chinese premier Jiang Zemin to Whitehouse
  • August 1998 - Clinton orders cruise missile strikes on Afghanistan and Sudan
  • NATO bombs Kosovo and Serbia March 24 to 10 June 1999
  • May 7 1999 - US planes bomb Chinese embassy in Belgrade

He ended his presidency with approval ratings in the high 60%, despite granting presidential pardons which Republicans considered highly controversial.

There's a great deal more to be said about him -- let's try to keep it non-partisan and encyclopedic.

External Links

William Jefferson Clinton

/Talk (go ahead and be partisan there)

See also: