The 42nd President of the United States is Bill Clinton. He was born William Jefferson Clinton on August 19th, 1946. He was voted President under the Democratic Party. His methods helped to bring Democrats and Republicans together to review issues rather than letting the division of the two parties get in the way.
His Early Life
Clinton was raised in Arkansas by his mother. His father was a traveling salesman. He died in an accident while his wife was about 6 months pregnant. To secure a good life for her son, his mom left her newborn with her parents so she could attend nursing school. His grandparents owned a grocery store and they would sell to both the whites and the blacks during a time when segregation was in full force.
He moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas with his mother and her new husband in 1950. He took on the last name of his step-father when he was 15. Clinton describes living in that home as very difficult. His stepfather gambled often and drank heavily. He often abused his wife and children during violent outbursts.
Hobbies and Interests
Bill Clinton enjoyed school, taking part in various activities. He enjoyed music and played the saxophone. There were times when he thought to spend his life as a career musician rather than the direction it took with law and politics. He found a passion in high school for politics with the debating team.
He met President Kennedy in 1963 when he got to go to the White House as a student senator. He also remembers hearing the speech I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King around the same time.
Clinton completed his education at a variety of prestigious colleges. He started his education at Georgetown University and then moved on to University College. His advanced courses were taken at Yale Law School and Oxford. He was able to get into college with various scholarships and leadership programs.
One of the negative concepts people have about Clinton is he dodged the draft for the Vietnam War. He was able to get waivers and deferments due to being a college student. However, it is noted he actually was part of protests against the war during his time at Oxford. He openly wrote letters about his opposition to the war and what it stood for.
He eventually did register for the draft but his number was never called to serve. Even so, many critics tried to keep him out of office during his first presidential campaign. They fought dirty, calling him unpatriotic and focusing on his lack of support for the Vietnam War. There was also talk that his uncle tried to get him into the Navy Reserves to keep him from being drafted. Clinton says he wasn’t aware of his uncle’s actions when that took place.
Hillary Clinton and Family Life
He met his wife while attending college at Yale. He has often stated he was impressed with her political views, her ability to communicate, and her motivation. The couple met in 1971 and married in 1975. The couple resided in Arkansas upon completing law school.
They relocated to Texas and California for periods of time. This allowed them both to work on different political campaigns at the time. Their only child, Chelsea Clinton, was born in 1980. Hillary Clinton has also had a lengthy political career herself. She was been a Senator and Secretary of State. She has twice tried to take the office of President herself. The first run was in the Democratic Party when she lost to future President Barrack Obama. The second was when she lost the election to Donald Trump.
The Road to the Presidency
Clinton is likable and people listen to him. His ability to capture an audience and communicate made it easy enough for him to take on some important roles. He was the Attorney General of Arkansas from 1977 until 1979. He also served as the Governor of Arkansas during two different time periods.
The first was from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1983 until 1992. During his time in these roles, people took notice of his abilities. He is credited for significant improvements to the Arkansas education system. He wasn’t the first choice for the Democratic Party but quickly rose to the top. One candidate, Mario Cuomo declined. Another, Gary Hart, was shut down after various affairs were shared in the media.
Bill Clinton was able to win two elections for the presidency. His terms ran from 1993 until 2001. Many were surprised in the first election to see him win over George H.W. Bush. He was 46 when he won his first term, and the 3rd youngest President in history.
Philosophy as President
Even though Clinton is a Democrat, he looked for new ways to be successful as President. Rather than everything being black and white or Democrat versus Republican, he introduced new methods. This is often referred to as the New Democrat or The Third Way.
Clinton was able to achieve many objectives during his presidential terms. Some argue he came in piggyback on the peacetime and treaties former President Bush had established. This doesn’t mean there weren’t any bumps in the road though for him to smooth over. Clinton took an active role in creating trade agreements including NAFTA.
He played an important role in sending military troops to assist in the Bosnian War and the Kosovo war. While not everyone supported his decision, it showed that the USA could be a great ally. He also took a strong stand in the fight to take down Saddam Hussein.
Families were impressed when he put the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 into place soon after taking office. This was a major step as it allowed employees to take time off work for an emergency, for a medical need, or for pregnancy. This act has been modified over the years but continues to be at the heart of the United States employment regulations.
Stand Against Violence
He also took a strong stand against violence. This included harsher sentences for violent criminals and repeat offenders. The programs worked to offer better reform within prisons to reduce the risk of prisons repeating offenses when they were released. He also added more funding and resources for law enforcement.
He played a role in welfare reform even though there was plenty of controversy behind it. The goal was to help promote self-sufficiency and end the generational cycles of depending on welfare benefits. This included offering childcare services, education, and work skills for welfare recipients so they could find sustainable employment opportunities.
The budget had a surplus when he was President, and many still wonder how he was able to get that done! It was the first time since 1969 that such a surplus existed. Clinton declared they were respectful of how funds were spent and kept good track of how it was used. It also involved raising taxes for the middle-class upwards while reducing them for low-income households.
He accomplished this 3 years in a row:
· 1998 $69 billion surplus
· 1999 $126 billion surplus
· 2000 $236 billion surplus
The Brady Bill was signed under the Clinton administration in 1993. This offered some control over firearm regulations and sales. It requires a background check for someone to be completed before they can purchase a firearm. When that system was new, it took 5 days to get the information back, so there was a mandated period. A person couldn’t buy a gun in the heat of the movement.
Today, the system for background checks has been updated. The application can be processed in a matter of minutes. The entity can get the results quickly and then either sell the individual a firearm or let them know they aren’t eligible to make such a purchase.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was also completed under Clinton. This allowed individuals to join military branches regardless of their sexual orientation. This new legislation was designed for all in the military to keep their sexual preferences to themselves rather than disclosing them to anyone else. This paved the way for those who are gay to be able to stay in the military if they desire or to be able to join the military. They would no longer be banned or disqualified due to sexual preferences.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying, but Clinton wasn’t able to get mental health reform completed. In his defense, there were many pieces of this concept and quite a bit of opposition. At the time of his leadership, mental health was still a taboo issue. People didn’t widely discuss it or acknowledge it like they do in today’s society.
Despite all of his success as a President, he was impeached in 1998. He was the second President in history to be impeached, Andrew Jackson was the first. The Senate acquitted him of the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice though and he was able to complete his second term as President. The charges stem from an alleged affair with an intern by the name of Monica Lewinsky.
He was President when the controversial outcome in Waco, Texas played out. Attorney General Janet Reno approved the use of tear gas and force to enter the compound. Clinton approved that decision but later in hearings said he did so based on misleading information he was given. The media attention on the compound caused many people to be very upset with the outcome. The 51-day standoff in April of 1993 ended with 75 people dead including 24 children.
In November of 1993, David Hale implemented Clinton in the Whitewater Controversy. He claimed Clinton forced him to give Susan McDougal a loan of $300,000 she wasn’t eligible for. At the time, Clinton was the governor of Arkansas. McDougal was his business partner in a land deal.
After the investigation, charges were pursued against McDougal. Clinton and his wife insisted they didn’t force Hale to do anything. They were aware of the loan to McDougal but say they never knew it was completed under false pretenses. He also states he has no idea why Hale would have a reason to try to connect him to such unethical business deals.
The End of His Presidency
When you look at the statistics, Clinton left his two terms in office with one of the highest approval ratings ever. However, the dark cloud of his scandal with the intern and various lies he was caught in throughout the Presidency will always cast a shadow on him and his legacy. When the Me Too movement started, his name was brought up several times by young women who said he made unwanted advances towards them.
His last official day as President of the United States was January 20th, 2001. He commuted 36 sentences and issued 141 pardons. Some of these decisions were controversial at the time and some of them are still in debate today.
What is he doing now?
After leaving the White House, Clinton has spent a great deal of time in speaking engagements. He often travels to be a guest speaker for various events. The Clinton Foundation was established to fight global warming and to reduce the risk of AID/HIV. In 2009, he was credited with helping get two American journalist hostages released. He worked closely with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to negotiate their safe release.
He has been a strong supporter of his wife and her political career. In 2008 and 2016 he was a large part of her campaigns for Presidency. Many believed Bill Clinton would make history when his wife ran for the Presidency against Donald Trump. Many experts thought he would become the first President in history with a spouse who later took on that role.
They also believed he would be the first to earn the title First Gentleman. There is speculation that Hillary Clinton may run again for President in the future so it is still possible he could get that title one day!