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In 1993 Bill Clinton became the forty-second President of the United States. When he took office, America was undergoing a period of weak economy caused by a huge federal budget deficit and strained international relations. Clinton was the first President born after World War II and elected after the end of the Cold War. He was also the first president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt without military credentials. Clinton’s election reflected two main changes of the 1990s America. As Clinton never served in the armed forces, his election showed that there was a shift to civilian political establishment caused by reluctance of American citizens to war and military service and, in consequence, professional military service. Clinton’s election also showed greater participation in election of working women and black Americans, which was the effect of the civil rights movement and the transformation of the role of women. Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe IV in the small town of Hope, Arkansas, on August 19, 1946, three months after his father, William Jefferson Blythe III, a travelling salesmen, died in an accident. His mother, Virginia Blythe, named her son after her dead husband. As a two-year-old boy, Clinton stayed with his maternal grandparents while his mother went to New Orleans, Louisiana, to continue her studies as a nurse. The author emphasizes the influence of grandparents on Bill’s early education.1 They taught Bill how to count and read by the age of three. When Bill was four, Virginia re-married to Roger Clinton and had another son Roger Clinton Jr. After their wedding, the family settled in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where Bill began school. Bill was called Clinton soon after his mother re-married, but the legal change happened after the adoption, when Bill was fifteen. Roger Clinton Sr. was an alcoholic and a gambler who abused his sons and wife. Bill was the one who protected his mother and brother and tried to maintain peace at home.
Martin Walker, The President We Deserve: Bill Clinton: His Rise, Falls, and Comebacks (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1996), 51.
Bill wanted to gain diplomatic skills and therefore applied to Georgetown University in Washington D. At the age of sixteen. which gave him the opportunity to study at the Oxford University in England for two years. chaired by Senator James William Fulbright. 2 Martin Walker.C. Because he realized that the kind of job required proper qualifications. to meet President John F. The group went to Washington D. He was interested in history and intended to study law.Despite troubles at home. Clinton spent part of his summer holiday working for Judge Jack Holt gubernatorial campaign. During his stay in the UK. Bill was a strong. Clinton fought for civil rights and took part in public demonstrations against the Vietnam War. He spent most of his time reading books. That is why he never served in armed forces and had no military experience. After graduation from Hot Springs High School. After he graduated. Kennedy. Clinton won a Rhodes scholarship. The author states that Clinton was surprisingly inactive at Oxford. As a Georgetown University student. Clinton was elected president of his junior class and was a president of many school clubs and organizations. Clinton was subjected to the lottery system which selected men to serve in the army but his name was near the end so he was never drafted. 55. travelling across Europe and making friends that helped him in his future political campaigns. mock elections and political debates. 2 .C. The President We Deserve. He was eager to start a job that could give him good money and political experience.2 He enjoyed watching Democratic presidential nominations on TV. This fascination with law and politics increased at the Hot Springs High School where Bill enjoyed taking part in public speaking classes. A personal handshake with the President inspired young Clinton to start a political career. successful and popular student. Walker writes that Bill’s first taste of national politics began to form when he was ten. As an opponent of the Vietnam War Clinton participated in antiwar demonstrations organized in England. and chose a course in International Studies. He was hired to work in the documents room of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. he was chosen to take part in the Boys Nation Programme which taught youth about the election process.
friends. After completing his law education. He began working for a senatorial campaign of the antiwar candidate and theology professor Joe Duffey. As a person politically active for many years. He called Patrick Caddell. Although he lost the election. he ran for attorney general of Arkansas and in 1976 won the office. speaking skills and talent for making friends. He was an effective candidate because of his personal appeal. who was an American public opinion pollster. Finally. In 1973. He also made important contacts and friends when teaching a course in criminal justice for police officers at the Little Rock branch of state university and helping local charities and low-income families at the Arkansas Housing Development Corporation. Despite the defeat. together with Hillary. support and admiration of his party members. students and people whom he met throughout his years of his political activism.After his stay in Oxford. Bill’s public speaking and small talk with individual voters increased the number of his supporters and hope for victory.S. to talk about his options and chances. As an attorney general. passed the Arkansas bar exams. Clinton was accepted to Yale Law School where he started to be very active politically. Clinton planned to run for the governor of Arkansas or the U. a 3 . Clinton got involved in Carter’s presidential campaign in Arkansas and gained direct access to the political powers of the state and the President’s support. To stay close to politics. Clinton wanted to make every effort to run again. Caddell recommended Dick Morris. Together with Hillary Rodham. his future wife. Clinton was the coordinator of the McGovern whips in the southern states and was later sent to Texas to coordinate the state campaign where he made friends and learnt how to make politics. Moreover. South Dakota Senator. Clinton won popularity. he worked in the 1972 presidential campaign of George McGovern. he became a chairman of the state party’s committee. Senate. he got a lot of support from his family. Clinton made his first attempt at politics in 1974 when he ran for Congress. which qualified him to practice law in the state. Bill returned to Arkansas to teach law at the state University in Fayetteville and launch his first political campaign. Clinton followed the suggestion of Billie Schneider and changed his first name William to Bill. Clinton graduated from Yale and. During the campaign.
inexperienced and idealistic staff. to find out what support Clinton had and what issues the public was interested in. His biggest political failure. 93. Clinton’s first term turned out to be a political failure. Clinton decided to run for governorship and when he announced his candidacy. Secondly. Clinton won an overwhelming victory and became the youngest governor ever elected. When in office. established a new Department of Economic Development and a new Department of Energy. because he fought for too many changes and failed to gain prominent achievements.young political consultant from New York. He also made a success when the Arkansas Power and Light Company refunded millions of dollars to its customers because of earlier overcharging. During his campaign. 3 Martin Walker. Despite the early successes. The President We Deserve. he advanced the educational system. Clinton angered also the state’s powerful timber. he stated that he could do much more for the state of Arkansas than any other politician because he loved it and cared about its peoples’ problems. 4 . The author points out that Clinton’s way of governing and choice of problems caused disappointments. Clinton was forced to shift the tax on car owners which led to even greater resistance. poultry and energy industries. was the reform of the educational system which required mandatory testing of students and teachers and reorganized small rural school districts into larger structures. he continued making mistakes and suffered heavy public backlash when he raised license fees for trucks and private cars and car registration fees to finance the road improvement plan. When the election came. Clinton’s achievement was also the increase of the state taxes and the public education budget by 40 percent. By challenging the pricing practices and land use. Clinton promised to improve the state’s general situation. When truck owners protested. Frank White. because he lost many friends and gained new enemies. built rural health centres and new roads. Clinton made some major mistakes.3 Clinton’s first political mistake was to appoint a young. however. Clinton lost to a Republican. Firstly. Morris ran two pools for Clinton and showed that both seats were winnable. aroused public opposition and led to scandals.
He began to make many public appearances outside Arkansas and was active 5 . he tried to win the seat of a governor again in 1982. After re-election. When this educational reform was introduced. During the campaign. His efforts and a well organized campaign repaid when Clinton won the governorship.. he proved to be a perfect communicator and a man who had a very good contact with the public. He chose to concentrate on the problem of school because Arkansas children ranked far below the national average in basic skills of writing or reading. President Bush asked Clinton to join a national summit of governors to study improvements on education. The programme raised teachers’ salaries and set up students’ basic skills exam. In 1990. less ambitious and concentrated only on few reforms.The defeat in the race taught Clinton to be a more cautious politician. he was the first governor in the state’s history that had been defeated and came back to the office. In recognition of his reforms. During his second term. Due to successful governing of the state. Clinton significantly changed the state’s educational system and improved the state’s general situation. Apart from his main achievement in field of education. who were required to pass a test of competence to keep their certification. the National Governors Association introduced solutions to national education. passing of which allowed young people to move on to high school. The most controversial part of the package concerned testing teachers. Clinton created State Board of Education to introduce new standards for schools. Clinton was also successful in improving the state’s health care system and job-training programme for people that received welfare. the situation of Arkansas schools significantly improved. Clinton remained in office until 1993 and was the longest-serving governor in the history of Arkansas. a longer school year and a basic state curriculum. The effects were visible already in 1992 when Arkansas obtained the best high school graduation rate in the U. This reform package involved ideas of smaller classes. Drawing on the experience.S. The achievement earned him the nickname of the Comeback Kid. Clinton’s achievement was also the creation of over one hundred thousand of new jobs by attracting business to the state. many of which had been created and used by Clinton in Arkansas. Clinton’s national reputation was growing.
Chelsea Victoria. Although he was aware of his poor chances. including the National Governors Association. Their marriage problems returned in 1988. Clinton officially stated that he resigned because family was his main consideration. Clinton began to think about the presidency. When Bill lost the re-election bid for a governor. In 1988. In October 1975. The President We Deserve. Hillary helped him survive the hard times. Even when new charges of infidelity against Bill appeared in 1991 she defended their marriage in a television programme 60 minutes. Hillary believed in Bill and always supported him. she became an enthusiastic campaign worker and member of the campaign staff. 127. 6 . Bill returned to Arkansas and Hillary went to work in Boston for the legal staff of Children’s Defence Fund. where she stood by her husband to dispel the rumours about their latest marriage problems. Eventually. she resigned from a prestigious work in Washington and decided to teach law at the University of Arkansas to be close to Bill. where Hillary gave birth to their only child. When he ran for Congress. Hillary thought about a divorce unless Bill changed. however. Eventually. There were also unofficial reasons for his resignation. the Arkansas State Democrat Committee admitted Clinton to a presidential bid. he decided not to run. After graduation. when Bill’s love affairs put their relationship at risk. The couple began meeting with Reverend Matthews to make the marriage work. Later Bill and Hillary worked together for the McGovern campaign in Texas. She called campaign experts to help her husband prepare the next campaign for the governor seat.4 Hillary’s support helped Bill continue the fight for the leadership of the Democratic Party and the country. namely rumours about his numerous affairs and marriage problems. Bill and Hillary survived the crisis and reaffirmed their marriage vows. In the summer of 1974. The relationship of Bill and Hillary started at Yale where they were fellow law students whose relationship built up throughout the academic years. he still wanted to make the attempt to gain experience and national popularity. She also resigned from keeping her last name to finish the hearsays about their marital crisis. 4 Martin Walker. Hillary and Bill got married and settled in Fayetteville.in several national organizations.
It was an unusual southern state because of a great number of people from the Northeast. because Republican President George Bush was very popular. a U.When Clinton’s marriage problems were resolved and cleaned of scandals. Unlike him. Throughout the campaign. On October 3. 5 Martin Walker. 121. trusted his close political advisors who were convinced that Bush could be defeated. This group promoted a business-oriented approach to issues. Clinton formed a group called the New Democrats. Eventually. Overcoming the financial problem. Working with other southern leaders. Clinton however. Senator from Tennessee. a coalition of moderate-to-conservative politicians who wanted to shift the Democratic Party towards a political centre. He also took the suggestion of Mandy Grunwald. who brought a young ballet dancer.S. He gathered professional staff that helped him deal with the controversies and over the fund-raising problem. Clinton was visible in town meetings. The author describes the beginning of Clinton’s campaign as difficult and financially unstable but also stresses that the Governor prepared himself very well for the race. he had to concentrate on Florida most. His chances for success grew when in 1991. a professional political consultant and media advisor for the Democratic Party. to run a fund-raising operation. The President We Deserve. including Al Gore. a political leader and businessman known for managing campaigns.5 Although Clinton made a lot of effort to win the black vote in the southern states. Clinton won the poll and gained an important victory for his party. Clinton was also recognized as a successful politician due to his work as a chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council. Emmanuel scheduled many events that saved the campaign before Christmas. to reach ordinary people on the non-political shows. 1991. television talk shows and debates. many prominent Democrats were reluctant to enter the race. The financial situation was saved by David Wilhelm. The author explains that it was important for the most prominent candidate to win convincingly in the southern states. Bill Clinton officially entered a presidential bid. the President prepared for another presidential campaigning 1992. Clinton was able to organize the Florida Democratic convention. Rahm Emmanuel. Newsweek magazine published a poll that showed Clinton as the country’s most effective governor. 7 .
of Tennessee as a running mate gave energy to the campaign and gained support of party leaders. The President We Deserve. Clinton still had a great chance to collect enough votes of delegates to get the nomination. Clinton was the least popular candidate. Ross Perot. the press and the public. Walker. He managed to defeat six well-known candidates and survived numerous scandals. H. Clinton’s popularity began to rise. 8 . Clinton survived it thanks to his will to fight and excellent campaign organization. was still ahead. Carville speeded up the reflexes of the campaign to ensure that no unanswered charges appeared in the media. In spite of his difficult beginnings. Clinton gained enough votes of the delegates to win the Democratic nomination. As the author explains. The President We Deserve. The plan turned out to be very successful. The President We Deserve. Clinton’s choice of Senator Albert Gore. Walker stresses that James Carville. Second. President George Bush and a third-party candidate. 145. Clinton gathered more votes than any previous Republican or Democrat in the history of primaries. 145. the most difficult challenge. Jr. late night TV show to energize the campaign. Just before the primary the press revealed new information about Clinton’s draft avoidance. Perot’s withdrew from the race.6 He also managed to survive the difficulties that occurred during the New York primary when he admitted having tried marijuana as a student. a political consultant and strategist played an important role in helping Clinton gain more support. he focused the media attention on Clinton.Another problem was the New Hampshire primary. Clinton won the state’s primary. As Walker claims. First. Although the information aroused criticism about and disappointment with him. which was defeating a republican candidate. This resignation increased Clinton’s chances for the presidency as Perot’s supporters preferred to join the Democrats rather 6 7 Walker. 8 Walker. 121.. For example. According to the national survey. 7 The author also stresses that with the choice of Gore. Third. he emphasized the weakest points of Clinton’s opponents. 8 On the day when the Arkansas Governor was officially nominated as a Democratic candidate for a president. he got Clinton played the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall. As Clinton prepared for the Democratic Convention in New York in July. putting his campaign at risk. Despite the early victories. the public opinion about the candidates began to change.
Bill Clinton was elected the fortysecond President of the United States. 1993. Clinton stressed that stable economy at home was a solution to domestic problems. Walker defined Clinton’s New Covenant as the most ambitious programme of public investments that the United States had experienced for many years. The beginnings of Clinton’s administration were full of mistakes and controversies. Clinton offered a plan of government spending on highways. he did not introduce a good plan for economic revival. Clinton also focused on the need for a national health care policy.than the Republicans. He declared a major shift from national defence and military to trade as the basis of his foreign policy. After the New York convention. Clinton was on the leading position and maintained it even after the Republican convention. Clinton’s policy to end discrimination against homosexuals in the military was highly criticized and considered to be a failure. many of the President’s appointments to the Cabinet were not approved by Congress. improved education system and job training. and thereby took the responsibility for improving the country’s economic position eliminating its big federal deficit and national debt. First. sewer systems and other infrastructure projects as a quick way to create new jobs and improve the general condition of the country. They went on bus tours to the places which were not very popular destinations among presidential candidates. Although the President tried to concentrate voters on his successful international politics and thus weaken Clinton’s reputation. the Senate and the House of Representatives. It focused on the recession and the economic problems of the population. Clinton’s second opponent lost popularity as the American economy weakened. bridges. Coverage of the trips appeared frequently in both local and national television and the press. when Bush put more time and energy to improve his campaign. the Democrats had taken control over the presidency. Second. In November 1992. The new President took the oath of the office on January 20. 9 . In the election. Bill Clinton and Al Gore started the campaign. Additionally. Even Perot’s return into the race a few weeks before the Election Day did not endanger Clinton’s position. Clinton and Gore were introducing their programme called a New Covenant. Clinton and Al Gore created the youngest team ever elected to conduct the nation.
The programme was finally passed but only when Clinton moderated it. The author stresses that the scandal destroyed both Clinton’s chances for success in domestic reforms and the position of Democrats. Walker. He put his wife in charge of the President’s Task Force on National Health Care Reform. the Clintons’ friend and personal attorney. the Whitewater affair turned out to be the most damaging and long-standing controversy. not welfare. In the scandal.Walker suggests that Clinton could not understand the disapproval of gays in the troops because he never served in the army. Clinton was accused of power abuse as a governor of Arkansas. end the dependency on welfare and lower the deficit. The main purpose of the last programme was to ensure that the poor would prosper better thanks to work. Clinton started to realize the ambitious legislative plan outlined in the campaign. which 9 10 Walker. raising energy taxes for all citizens and reducing the federal bureaucracy. no significant information was uncovered. 10 . To achieve his aims. More controversies came out when Vince Foster. The ambitious plan met with public disapproval and was defeated in the Senate. the President proposed the economic stimulus package that attacked the budget deficit and promised reduction of spending over the next five years. funds on education. The compromised budget proposal balanced the federal budget within five years by introducing new taxes and cutting spending. Clinton contributed to reduction of the deficit by raising taxes on the affluent people.9 Third. 253. the President tried to concentrate on his duties. His death put the President in an even worse light. The President also secured the income tax credit that was to protect working families from falling below the poverty line. It was an unsuccessful real estate development project in Arkansas that involved questionable financial transactions. The President We Deserve. 199. Clinton’s economic strategy was to invest in education and job training in order to encourage ordinary people to support economic change. Clinton also introduced a national health insurance programme. job creation and investments in industry and infrastructure. The President We Deserve. As he gave foreign affairs a lesser priority than domestic ones. Although a special prosecutor was appointed and the investigations continued throughout Clinton’s administration. tax relief for working poor.10 Despite the difficulties. committed suicide.
because it increased the number of registered voters through simplification of the registration process and permission to register on the basis of a driving license. Although at the beginning the crime bill met with disapproval. complicated and expensive.12 He extended the federal death penalty and life imprisonment. As Walker 11 12 Walker. impose dismissals and discourage hiring. He took office during a period of weak economy and strained international relations. For the unemployed and the uninsured. the President could not avoid getting involved in foreign affairs. it turned out to be very effective and led to a reduction of offenses. The President We Deserve. One of them was a crime bill. 322.numbered over five hundred members. Clinton gradually became effective in handling international matters. The President We Deserve. 11 . Eventually. Although he had little experience in foreign policy. The next important bill the President ratified was the Family and Medical Leave Act. They lobbied Congress and convinced the Americans that the proposal was too radical. At the beginning. Clinton’s another very important act was Motor Voter Act. the reform which consumed much Task Force energy and political capital was not approved by Congress. Clinton’s plan enjoyed high support but with time the Americans feared that a new health care tax would increase costs for small businesses and decrease the chances to chose their own doctor. the state paid the fee. new prisons and boot camps for young criminals. It was essential for workers who had sick relatives and had to take care of them. Clinton funded many new job vacancies for policemen. There was a ban on buying nineteen types of assault weapons and a five-day waiting period on handgun purchase. Walker describes the President’s programme as the biggest political failure and blames Clinton’s ambition for it. 215. Walker. The act enabled people with health problems and parents of newborn children to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave from work. Children from the age of thirteen were subjected to prosecution and penalty for violent crimes. The plan was strongly disapproved by powerful health insurance companies. Although Clinton’s priority was domestic sphere. The bill defined violence based on sexual abuse as a breach of civil rights and put federal penalties for spouse abuse.11 The President introduced also a few smaller reforms. The plan was to guarantee health insurance to every American throughout their employment even when they were part-time or shortterm employees.
Eventually. America also intervened in Haiti. In 1995. A good example of Clinton’s view on economic issues was China. Clinton only exposed peacekeeping forces to danger. That conflict threatened the Yugoslavians and other European countries. 262. Clinton decided to use militarily forces to settle riots and was embarrassed when armed Haitians prevented navy ships from coming into port. The meeting ended with a peace keeping agreement. Apart from Somalia. the forces were withdrawn and replaced by the UN troops. 275.15 Walker claims that the kind of help made sense at the beginning of the war but at that time the UN troops had already been there. He sent military forces on a humanitarian mission there but when American soldiers got involved in combat and some of them were killed. Clinton became involved in foreign conflicts because he supported and wanted to promote human rights in other countries.13 Clinton first tried to help Somalia. Clinton hosted peace talks between the warring parties in Ohio.14 The area of former Yugoslavia was under continuous aggression of several armies. leaving Bosnia as one country made up of two separate parts with a central government.writes. Walker. The President We Deserve. The President’s international issues concentrated on using international trade instead of military to promote peace and stability around the world. The President We Deserve. 275. left in chaos after the escape of its president. 262. the issue of Bosnia was the most difficult international problem that Clinton had to deal with during his first term. Clinton backed a policy known as lift and strike.16 Later. Clinton finally changed his outline for peace and backed a French-British plan to divide Bosnia in territories for the Serbs and Bosnians. Clinton concentrated on the support of human rights there but finally decided to engage in commerce and trade with China. 13 14 Walker. which involved air strikes against Serb aggressor. The President We Deserve. 12 . and airlifts of arms and supplies to help the Bosnians defend themselves. when the President wanted to take a more forceful stand and agreed to commit American troops on the ground American citizens refused to support the policy seeing no vital interest in it. The President We Deserve. the operation ended in a success. In order to settle the unstable situation. In the author’s opinion. 15 Walker. American intervention was unsuccessful and left the African country in a state of anarchy and fight for leadership. 16 Walker.
After the elections. 287. the U. Additionally. The President We Deserve. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). the United States.S. In order to improve his situation. which strengthened global trade. an effective Republican national campaign and the Republicans’ promise to work on various legislative programmes led to a rise in number of supporters of this party. Clinton’s biggest success in foreign policy were two major trade agreements. could freely trade with Vietnam for the first time since the Vietnam War. 13 . especially on balancing budget issues and spending cuts. Although Clinton was in favour of the Republicans’ idea of equalizing the budget. changing welfare. The writer states that a good budget was very important for Clinton because of the 17 Walker. The President showed his willingness to cooperate with a new Congress and concentrated on decreasing government bureaucracy. which lifted trade restrictions among Canada. Although Clinton was quite successful at the beginning of his first presidential term. and Mexico and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade(GATT). The political change forced Clinton to look for common ground with the opposite party. he later came across major problems that damaged the Democrat’s chances in midterm congressional elections in 1994. As the author explains.17 That is why the President created a new advisory board called the National Economy Council which coordinated policies both at home and abroad. the Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress. cutting taxes. Clinton’s cooperation with the House and the Senate deteriorated. For Clinton. limiting illegal immigration and passing a line item veto. Clinton changed his stand on many national issues and started to use presidential veto. he could not agree on the way it was done. President Clinton also tried to link foreign and domestic policies in order to improve economy and create more jobs for Americans.The President also lifted the trade embargo on Vietnam and started diplomatic relations with the country and as a consequence. Clinton believed that improvement of global economy had to go together with the economic reforms at home. Clinton had too few accomplishments in the first two years of his administration to boost the chances of Democratic Congressmen for re-election. the results of the 1994 elections meant smaller chances for reelection in the next presidential campaign.
the Republicans gave up on budget negotiations. 148. The President We Deserve. which raised the minimum wage and a limited health care. American economy boomed. Clinton signed the bills. which differed from the one originally proposed as it reduced welfare help. which strengthened public approval for the President. 310. The new law enabled workers to keep their health insurance if they lost or changed jobs. The President achieved success in decreasing crime and unemployment rate and cutting the federal budget deficit in half. 14 . 20 Walker. Clinton’s administration was troubling but gave the President good chances for re-election. He acquired some traditional Republican views like standing against violence and pornography in the media and defending programmes for the minorities. The President We Deserve. In 1996. Walker. Clinton organised an advertising campaign that presented the Republicans’ attempts to reduce funds for the Medicare programme.18 To influence public opinion. Clinton changed his political views significantly throughout his first term. In the writer’s opinion. 351. Finally. The campaign showed that Clinton defended important government policies from irresponsible Congress. the President passed a welfare reform bill. It gave funds to encourage welfare beneficiaries to work and cancelled the financial help for poor children.upcoming election year. The shift of views from traditionally democratic to centrist earned Clinton the name of a New Democrat. That same year.19 During Clinton’s first term. The President We Deserve. trade increased and foreign relations improved.20 18 19 Walker.
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