Bill Clinton

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Template:Infobox President 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. Clinton served five terms as the Governor of Arkansas. His wife, former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, is currently the junior U.S. Senator from New York.

Generally regarded as a moderate populist, and a member of the moderate New Democrat wing of the Democratic Party, he headed the centrist Democratic Leadership Council in 1990 and 1991. During his tenure as president, his domestic priorities included efforts to create a universal healthcare system, upgrade education, to restrict handgun sales, to strengthen environmental regulations, to improve race relations, and to protect the jobs of workers during pregnancy or medical emergency. His domestic agenda also included more conservative themes such as reforming welfare programs, expanding the "War on Drugs", and increasing law enforcement funding. Internationally, his priorities included reducing trade barriers, preventing nuclear proliferation, and mediating the Northern Ireland peace process and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.

Clinton was the third-youngest president, behind Theodore Roosevelt (the youngest president) and John F. Kennedy (the youngest to be elected president). He was the first baby boomer president. Clinton was one of only two Presidents in American history to be impeached, and was acquitted by a vote of the United States Senate on February 12, 1999.

Contents

Early Life

Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe, III in tiny 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 three months before his son was born. His mother, born Virginia Dell Cassidy (1923–1994), remarried in 1950 to Roger Clinton. 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..

Clinton was a member of the Masonic Youth Order of DeMolay but did not continue on to join Freemasonry.

Clinton was an excellent student and talented saxophonist. He even thought of dedicating his life to music, but a visit to the White House of President John F. Kennedy following his election as a Boys Nation Senator led him to pursue a career in politics.

Arkansas political career and education

Clinton received a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (B.S.F.S.) degree from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., where he became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega, worked for Senator J. William Fulbright, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and won a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford (at the University College, Oxford) in England. After attending Oxford, Clinton obtained a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Yale Law School. While at Yale, he met a classmate who would eventually be his future wife, Hillary Rodham; the couple married in 1975.

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President Carter (right) meets Governor Clinton.

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% 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 the state of Arkansas, the youngest to be elected governor 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 boatlift) detained in Fort Chafee in 1980.

In the 1980 election, Clinton was defeated in his bid for a second term by Republican challenger Frank D. White, becoming a victim of the Reagan Republican landslide. 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 helped Arkansas to transform its economy. He became a leading figure among the so-called New Democrats, who called for welfare reform, smaller government, and other Reagan-like ideas.

Clinton's approach mollified conservative criticism during his terms as governor. However, one or two personal 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 or charges of any kind were made against either of the Clintons growing out of their Arkansas years.

Presidency

Presidential campaign

Clinton's first 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 long and uninspiring speech that lasted over half an hour [1].

Four years later, Clinton prepared for a run in 1992 against incumbent President George H. W. Bush. In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, Bush seemed unbeatable, and several potential Democratic candidates — notably New York Governor Mario Cuomo — passed on what seemed to be a lost cause. Clinton won the Democratic Party's nomination.

Clinton chose U.S. Senator Albert A. Gore Jr. (D-Tennessee) 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 which would go against the popular strategy of balancing a Southern candidate with a Northern partner. In retrospect, many now view Gore as a helpful factor in the 1992 campaign.

Many character issues were raised during the campaign, including allegations that Clinton had dodged the draft during the Vietnam War, and had used marijuana, which Clinton claimed he had smoked, but "didn't inhale". Allegations of extramarital affairs and shady business deals were also raised. While typically these types of allegations would have resulted in a candidate withdrawing from the race, Clinton displayed the resiliency in the face of scandal that would later be pivotal in his presidency. As the candidate with the most money and the best-articulated campaign strategy — creating more jobs — Clinton was able to stay in the race the longest, fending off all rivals long before the Democratic convention. [2]

Clinton won the 1992 presidential election (43.01% of the vote) against Republican George H. W. Bush (37.4% of the vote) and billionaire populist H. Ross Perot who ran as an independent (18.9% of the vote), largely on a platform focusing on domestic issues; a large part of his success was due to George H.W. Bush's steep decline in public approval. Previously described as "unbeatable" due to his approval ratings in the 80 percent range during the Persian Gulf conflict, Bush's public approval rating dropped to just over 40% by election time.

Three factors made this possible. First, the campaign came in the midst of the recession of 1992. While in historical terms the recession was mild and actually ended before the election, the resulting job loss (especially among middle managers not yet accustomed to white collar downsizing) fueled strong discontent with Bush, who was successfully portrayed as aloof, out of touch, and overly focused on foreign affairs. Highly telegenic, Clinton was perceived as sympathetic, concerned, and more in touch with ordinary families.

Second was the decision by Bush to accept a tax increase. Pressured by rising budget deficits, increased demand for entitlement spending and reduced tax revenues (each a consequence of the recession) Bush agreed to a budget compromise with Congress (where rival Democrats held the majority). Not having been in Congress at the time, Clinton was able to effectively condemn the tax increase on both its own merits and as a reflection of Bush's honesty. Effective Democratic TV ads were aired showing a clip of Bush's infamous 1988 campaign speech in which he promised "Read my lips ... No new taxes."

Finally, Bush's coalition was in disarray. Ross Perot's independent campaign played to moderates' concerns about the budget deficit, siphoning crucial swing votes from Bush. Meanwhile, conservative voters — especially social conservatives-- lacked confidence in Bush, an avowed moderate. Previously, conservatives had been united by anti-communism; with the end of the Cold War, old rivalries re-emerged. Meanwhile, despite a fractious and ideologically diverse party, Clinton was able to successfully court all wings of the Democratic party, even where they conflicted. To garner the support of moderates and conservative Democrats, he cannily attacked Sista Souljah, a rap musician whose lyrics Clinton condemned. Clinton could also point to his moderate, New Democrat record as Governor of Arkansas. More liberal Democrats were impressed by Clinton's academic credentials, 60's-era protest record, and support for social causes such as a woman's right to abortion. Supporters remained energized and confident, even in times of scandal or missteps.

Significant events

Clinton was the first Democrat to serve two full terms as president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. His election ended an era in which the Republican party had controlled the White House 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 the last Democratic president, Jimmy Carter.

Clinton's 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 28, 2000.

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Clinton and Vice President Gore talk while walking through the Colonnade at the White House.

Shortly after taking office, Clinton fulfilled a campaign promise by signing the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which required large employers to allow their employees to take unpaid leave because of pregnancy or serious medical condition. While this action was popular, Clinton's initial reluctance to fulfill another campaign promise relating to the acceptance of openly homosexual 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 implemented the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, which remains official military policy.

The most 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. It was the first major legislative defeat of Clinton's administration.

After two 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 the failed attempt to create a comprehensive health care system.

After the 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. The inability of Clinton and the Congress to come to an agreement resulted in the longest government shutdown to date.

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.

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

In 1998, as a result of allegations regarding his personal indiscretions with a young female White House intern (Monica Lewinsky), 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. Clinton initially denied having any improper relationship with Lewinsky, but later admitted that in fact an improper relationship with Lewinsky had taken place. He apologized to the nation for his actions, agreed to pay a $25,000.00 court fine, settled his sexual harassment lawsuit with Paula Jones for $850,000.00 and was disbarred from practicing law in Arkansas and before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was not tried for or found guilty of perjury.

In 1999, through Clinton's and the Congress's efforts, the United States had a projected federal budget surplus for the first time since 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 was an important element in the peace process which set in motion the disarmament of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) on October 23, 2001.

In 2002, a UPI story stated that documents discovered in Afghanistan showed that al-Qaeda may have plotted to assassinate Clinton toward the end of his term.[3]

Legislation and programs

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Major legislation signed

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Major legislation vetoed

Proposals not passed by Congress

Initiatives

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Cabinet

OFFICE NAME TERM
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
HHS Donna E. Shalala 1993–2001
Education Richard Riley 1993–2001
HUD 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
Hershel W. Gober (act.) 2000–2001

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President Clinton's First Cabinet, 1993

Supreme Court appointments

Clinton appointed the following justices to the Supreme Court:

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The economy

During Clinton's tenure, the U.S. enjoyed continuous economic expansion, reductions in unemployment, and growing wealth through a massive rise in the stock market. The economic boom ended shortly before his term ended, possibly indicative of a stock market bubble. Although the reasons for the expansion are continually debated, Clinton proudly pointed to a number of economic accomplishments, including:

  • More than 22 million new jobs
  • Homeownership rate increase from 64.0% to 67.5%
  • Lowest unemployment rate in 30 years
  • Higher incomes at all levels
  • Largest budget deficit in American history converted to the largest surplus of over $200 billion
  • Lowest government spending as a percentage of GDP since 1974 [4]
  • Higher stock ownership by families than ever before

The reasons for this growth are hotly debated, but Clinton supporters cite his 1993 tax increase as the reason that eventually led to the reduction in the annual budget deficits every year of his tenure. These deficit reductions stimulated consumption and consumer spending and strengthened the dollar, which encouraged foreign investment in the United States economy. Alan Greenspan supported the 1993 tax increase, which was approved by Congress without a single Republican vote [5]. His critics credit Alan Greenspan, the Republican Congress' 1995 spending cuts, the Contract with America initiatives, and Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut.[6] Critics also point to the fact that the economic recovery had already begun before Bill Clinton took office. Some further contend that the 1993 tax increase actually hurt the economy and that the negative impact of that tax increase was stymied by reduced interest rates during the same period. Additionally, Republicans point to the fact that the recovery did not pick up momentum until 1995 and 1996, after the GOP took over Congress.

Trade

Clinton strongly supported the NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. It was negotiated by his predecessor, George H.W. Bush, but it was passed by the United States Congress in 1993, after Clinton and Gore lobbied heavily for it.

The Clinton administration used the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights thirteen times and prevailed in the WTO thirteen times ([7] audio 12:40-16:30).

Foreign policy

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Clinton embraces British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
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Clinton plays the saxophone presented to him by Russian President Boris Yeltsin at a private dinner in Russia, January 13, 1994

Clinton deployed the U.S. military several times under hostile circumstances. In 1993, U.S. troops, initially deployed to Somalia by the Bush administration, fought the Battle of Mogadishu which attempted to capture local warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The administration withdrew U.S. troops after suffering 18 casualties (19 according to the film Black Hawk Down) and 73 wounded in the battle. In 1994, Clinton sent U.S. troops into Haiti to restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president, ending a period of intense violence. Aristide, who had been elected, had been ousted in a coup just seven months into his term in 1991. Clinton also committed troops twice in the former-Yugoslavia to stop ethnic violence, most notably in Kosovo. In addition, Clinton launched military strikes on Iraq several times to punish violations of UN sanctions and an attempt to have former President George H. W. Bush assassinated. Clinton did not intervene militarily to end the Rwandan genocide, a decision he later regarded as a "personal failure".[8]

In 1994, Clinton negotiated and signed the Nuclear Accords with North Korea. The underlying concern was that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons technology under the guise of a nuclear power plant. In exchange for assistance with energy needs, North Korea agreed to abandon all ambitions for acquiring nuclear weapons. However, by the mid 1990s defectors from North Korea, along with reports from the IAEA, indicated that North Korea was violating both the Nuclear Accords and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In December 2002, North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors from its Yongbyon nuclear facility, and announced (privately in 2003 and publicly in 2005), that they possessed nuclear weapons.

In November, 1995, Clinton committed troops to the Balkans saying the mission would be “precisely defined with clear realistic goals” that could be achieved in a “definite period of time." Clinton assured Americans the mission would take about one year. In October 1996, shortly before Clinton's reelection, the Clinton Administration denied any change in the plans to withdraw troops in December, 1996. However, shortly after reelection, Clinton announced troops would stay longer. Troops ultimately stayed in Bosnia for nine years. [9]

On February 17, 1998, Clinton gave a speech signaling the danger of rogue nations providing weapons of mass destruction to terrorist organizations with global reach. Clinton specifically pointed to Saddam Hussein's Iraq.[10] In August 1998 UN weapons inspectors left Iraq, leading to Operation Desert Fox in December.

During Clinton's tenure, Al-Qaeda began to emerge as a major terrorist threat. In 1998, the group bombed the American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. In retaliation, Clinton ordered Operation Infinite Reach, which involved cruise missile strikes on terrorist camps in Kandahar, Afghanistan and a suspected chemical weapons facility in Khartoum, Sudan that was believed to be tied to bin Laden. [11] Clinton also gave orders authorizing the arrest or, if need be, assassination of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. At the end of his term, in late 2000, the terrorists struck again with the USS Cole bombing. By this time, Clinton has stated he regarded Al-Qaeda as the foremost threat to national security. [12] In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the independent investigating commission was critical of Clinton for focusing more on diplomatic than military means to eliminate the bin Laden threat.[13]

Some critics argue that the American attacks in Kosovo, Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan, and Afghanistan violated international law. [14], [15], [16]

After his presidency, Clinton identified his proudest foreign policy accomplishments as mediating peace talks between Israel and the PLO, resulting in the Oslo Accords (1993). Subsequent events, including the collapse of the 2000 Camp David Summit and the commencement of the al-Aqsa Intifada, resulted in the Oslo Accords being widely discredited within Israel and in various Palestinian factions by 2004.

Clinton identified his major foreign policy failure as lack of response to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Along with the United Nations, the Clinton administration initially did not publicly acknowledge that genocide was occurring.

Impeachment and other scandals

Main article: Impeachment of Bill Clinton

Clinton was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on two charges, perjury and obstruction of justice, both arising from the Lewinsky testimony before a federal grand jury; two other charges were proposed, but not passed by the House. The charges resulted in part from a lawsuit brought by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones in 1994, alleging sexual harassment on the part of then-Governor Clinton. On February 12, 1999, 45 senators voted "guilty" while 55 senators voted "not guilty" to the charge of obstruction of justice, and the Senate voted 50-50 on the charge of perjury, far short of the Constitutional requirement of a two-thirds majority to convict and remove an office holder. Clinton, like the only other president to be impeached, Andrew Johnson, served the remainder of his term.

The day before leaving office, Clinton agreed to a five-year suspension of his Arkansas law license as part of an agreement with the independent counsel to end the investigation. Based on this suspension, Clinton was also automatically suspended from the United States Supreme Court bar, from which he chose to resign. [17][18] Clinton's resignation was mostly symbolic and will have little practical effect, as he had never practiced before the Supreme Court and was not expected to in the future. Clinton also was assessed a $90,000 fine by federal judge Susan Webber Wright for contempt of court. The Paula Jones lawsuit was settled out of court for $850,000.

In addition to impeachment and the Whitewater scandal, the Clinton White House was the subject of many lesser scandals.

Travelgate refers to the firing of White House travel office civil service staffers.

Filegate refers to the request for access to FBI files on White House personnel, without asking for the individuals' permission.

Chinagate involved Democrats allegedly accepting improper campaign contributions; supposedly the ultimate source of this money was the Chinese government.

Pardongate refers to a grant of clemency to FALN bombers in 1999 and pardons to his brother, tax-evading billionaire Marc Rich and others in 2001 (see List of people pardoned by Bill Clinton).

In March, 1998 Kathleen Willey, a White House aide, alleged that Clinton had sexually assaulted her. Also in 1998, Juanita Broaddrick alleged that Clinton had raped her in 1978. No charges were filed in either case.

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy was acquitted on each of 30 charges of illegally accepting gifts such as sports tickets, lodging, and transportation from companies regulated by his department in exchange for favors. [17]

HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts of conspiracy, giving false statements and obstruction of Justice. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of lying to the FBI about the amount of money he gave his mistress, political fundraiser Linda Medlar. Medlar plead guilty to 28 counts related to the investigation. Both Medlar and Cisneros were pardoned by Clinton.

Timeline

Public approval

While Clinton's job approval rating varied over the course of his first term, ranging from a low of 36% in 1993, to a high of 64% in 1993 and 1994[18], his job approval rating consistently ranged from the high 50s to the high 60s in his second term[19], with a high of 73% approval in 1998 and 1999[20]. A CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup poll,[21] 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 seven decades 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% of the respondents identified themselves as being Clinton supporters.

Public image

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Clinton sitting with child.

As the first Baby Boomer president, Clinton was seen during his presidency and during his candidacy as a change from the presidents of the World War II Generation. With his sound-bite-ready dialogue and pioneering use of pop culture in his campaigning (he appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show playing the saxophone during the 1992 campaign), Clinton was described, often negatively, as the "MTV president". Despite criticisms that his appeal to young voters lacked substance, Clinton won among Generation X voters in the 1992 election, with the highest Gen-X turnout ever. Clinton clearly came across as popular to young people. Until his inauguration as president, 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. Clinton was also very popular overall among African-Americans and made improving race relations a major theme of his presidency.[22]

Many people saw the couple as an unprecedented political partnership. Some even suspected that Hillary, and not Bill, was the dominant force behind the team, and many jokes implied that Hillary, not Bill, was the real President of the United States.

Social conservatives were put off by the impression of Clinton having been a "hippie" during the late 1960s, his coming-of-age era. In the 1960s, however, Clinton might not have been viewed as such by many of those in the hippie subculture. Clinton avoided the draft with a student deferment while studying abroad during the Vietnam War. Clinton's marijuana experimentation, clumsily excused by Clinton's statement that he "didn't inhale" further tarnished his image with some voters, although he was actually to the right of previous Democratic candidates for the presidency on many issues - he supported the death penalty, curfews, uniforms in public schools, and other measures opposed by youth rights supporters, and he expanded the War on Drugs greatly while in office.

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Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and their wives at the funeral of President Richard Nixon on April 27, 1994.

Starting from 1992 Presidential election campaign, rumors about Clinton's adultery were floating about, and these surfaced and increased with Paula Jones' accusations of sexual harassment. After allegations had linked him to Jones, Gennifer Flowers, and Kathleen Willey, Clinton's sex life would become the focus of his public image when, in January 1998, recorded conversations by Linda Tripp contained statements by White House intern Monica Lewinsky about having oral sex.

Clinton's warmth, curiosity and openness unite to create an intense personal charm, but his character and policies were viewed with intense, personal dislike by some conservative critics. Several unsubstantiated accusations were leveled on conservative talk radio programs. Among these were rumors of involvement with drug traffickers and personal cocaine use. Some talk show personalities fomented conspiracy theories about Clinton's involvement in the death of long-time friend and aide Vince Foster, which was later ruled a suicide in an extensive investigation by Kenneth Starr. The deadly Branch Davidian standoff near Waco, Texas in 1993, which many considered to be a bungled operation, engendered further hostility in some conservative circles towards the Clinton administration.

Clinton is often referred to by nickname among both detractors and fans. One of the earliest was "Bubba", which alludes to his Southern "good ol' boy" background. Other common nicknames include "Slick Willy" and "Clintoon" (by detractors), and the "Big Dog" (by fans). Although the phrase typically refers to Ronald Reagan's presidency, Clinton's presidency is sometimes referred to as the "Teflon Presidency" for how scandals and setbacks never seem to stick to him, at least in terms of dropped public support. During his first presidential campaign in 1992 he claimed the moniker of the "Comeback Kid" after placing second in the New Hampshire primary to Paul Tsongas ("Tonight New Hampshire's made me the Comeback Kid" ).

Post-presidential career

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Hillary Clinton is sworn in as a U.S. Senator by Vice President Gore as Bill and Chelsea Clinton observe.

On January 18 2001, he addressed the nation one last time on television from the Oval Office of the White House, two days before handing over the presidency to George W. Bush, whose father he had defeated in 1992.

Like many former American presidents, Clinton has engaged in a career as a public speaker on a variety of issues. In these, 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 his opening of his personal office in the Harlem section of New York City. He assisted his wife Hillary Clinton in her campaign for office as a senator representing New York.

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

Clinton collected his memoirs into a book entitled My Life, which was released on June 22 2004. Commenting on memoirs in general, he said "some are dull and self-serving, hopefully mine will be interesting and self-serving." The book made an unprecedented three appearances on the Amazon.com best-seller list before it was even released.

On July 26, 2004, Clinton spoke for the fifth time in a row to the Democratic National Convention. He used his speech to praise candidate John Kerry. Many have argued that Clinton's speech was one of the best in Convention history. In it, Clinton criticized George W. Bush's depiction of Kerry, saying that "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values."

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

He dedicated his presidential library, which is the largest in the nation, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 18, 2004. Under rainy skies, Clinton received words of praise from former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, as well as from the current president, George W. Bush. He was also treated to a musical rendition from Bono and The Edge from U2, who expressed their gratitude at Clinton's efforts to resolve the Northern Ireland conflict during his presidency.

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Clinton and former President Bush at Super Bowl XXXIX.
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Clinton, along with President George W. Bush, his wife, Laura, and Bush's father pay their respects to Pope John Paul II before the pope's funeral.

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.

On December 8 2004, Clinton announced that he was the new spokesperson for Accoona, an internet search engine company.

There had been reported signs of a friendship growing between Clinton and 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 on occasion, although the nature of the friendship did not appear to be a reconciliation of political opinions.

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 picked by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to head the United Nations earthquake and tsunami relief and reconstruction effort. Five days later, he and Bush both appeared on the Super Bowl XXXIX pre-game show on Fox 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 both traveled to the affected areas to see how the relief efforts are going.

Following the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005 Clinton stirred up a mini-controversy saying the late pontiff, "may have had a mixed legacy…there will be debates about him. But on balance, he was a man of God, he was a consistent person, he did what he thought was right." Clinton sat with both President George W. Bush and former President George H.W. Bush as the first current or former American heads of state to attend a papal funeral.

In 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. Clinton was highly critical of the federal government response to the hurricane, saying that the government "failed" the people affected, and that an investigation into the response was warranted. [23]

On September 16, 2005, Clinton appeared on Larry King Live to talk about Senator Clinton's political career.

On December 9, 2005, speaking at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal, Clinton publicly criticized the Bush Administration about its handling of emissions control.

Trivia

  • Clinton suffers from heart problems.
  • Clinton is 6' 2½" (1.89m) tall.
  • Clinton is left-handed.
  • Clinton is allergic to dust, mold, pollen, and cat dander, mildly allergic to beef and dairy products. [24]
  • Clinton was a brother of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity and Kappa Kappa Psi, a band service fraternity.
  • Clinton is nearly fluent in German; he studied German in college as his language-of-choice.
  • Clinton owned two pets during his presidency: a male chocolate-colored Labrador Retriever named "Buddy" and a cat named "Socks". Socks arrived in 1993 and was the first cat to live in the White House since President Carter's daugther's cat Misty Malarky Ying Yang. Clinton acquired Buddy as a puppy in 1997 and named him after his late uncle. Buddy and Socks fought frequently at the White House and were kept in separate quarters. Since this would be no longer possible in the Clintons' smaller home in Chappaqua, New York, Socks was given away to Clinton's secretary when he left office. Buddy died after being run over by a car near the Clintons' Chappaqua house in 2002. See also: List of U.S. Presidential pets.
  • Centraal Beheer, a Dutch insurance company famous for its humorous commercials, once had a TV commercial involving Clinton and a voodoo doll. This commercial was taken down after a few weeks at the request of the White House.
  • Clinton reportedly owned a 1970 El Camino at one time. Speaking to a group of GM employees, Clinton joked, "It had astro-turf in the back. You don't want to know why."

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