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Clinton, Bill (William Jefferson Clinton), 1946–, 42d President of the United States (1993–2001), b. Hope, Ark. His father died before he was born, and he was originally named William Jefferson Blythe 4th, but after his mother remarried, he assumed the surname of his stepfather. After graduating from Georgetown Univ. (1968), attending the Univ. of Oxford as a Rhodes scholar (1968–70), and receiving a law degree from Yale Univ. (1973), Clinton returned to his home state, where he was a lawyer and (1974–76) law professor. In 1974 he was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. Two years later, he was elected Arkansas's attorney general, and in 1978 he won the Arkansas governorship, becoming the nation's youngest governor. Defeated for reelection in 1980, he regained the governorship in 1982 and retained it in two subsequent elections. Generally regarded as a moderate Democrat, he headed the centrist Democratic Leadership Council from 1990 to 1991.
In 1992, Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination after a primary campaign in which his character and private life were repeatedly questioned and, with running mate Senator Al Gore Gore, Albert Arnold, Jr., 1948–, Vice President of the United States (1993–2001), b. Washington, D.C., grad. Harvard, 1969. After serving in the army in Vietnam and working as a reporter, he was elected (1976) to the U.S.
In his first year in office, Clinton won passage of a national service program and of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the federal deficit. He also proposed major changes in the U.S. health-care system that ultimately would have provided health-insurance coverage to most Americans. Clinton was unable to overcome widespread opposition to changes in the health-care system, however, and in a major policy defeat, failed to win passage of his plan. After this failure, his proposed programs were never as sweeping. The president's wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton Clinton, Hillary Rodham , 1947–, American lawyer and political figure, wife of U.S. President Bill Clinton, b. Chicago, grad. Wellesley College (B.A. 1969), Yale Law School (LL.B., 1973).
In 1994, Clinton sent U.S. forces to Haiti as part of the negotiated restoration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide Aristide, Jean-Bertrand , 1953–, president of Haiti (1991, 1994–96, 2001–4). A radical Catholic priest who defended liberation theology, he worked among Haiti's poor and was part of a group of progressive priests who opposed the Duvalier
After the Democratic party lost control of both houses of Congress in Nov., 1994, in elections that were regarded as a strong rebuff to the president, Clinton appeared to have lost some of his political initiative. He was often criticized for vacillating on issues; at the same time, he was embroiled in conflict with sometimes radically conservative Republicans in Congress, whose goals in education, Medicare, and other areas often were at odds with his own. In 1995 and 1996, congressional Republicans and Clinton clashed over budget and deficit-reduction priorities, leading to two partial federal government shutdowns. Perceived as the victor in those conflicts, Clinton regained some of his standing with the public. Allegations of improper activities by the Clintons relating to Whitewater Whitewater, popular name for a failed 1970s Arkansas real estate venture by the Whitewater Development Corp., in which Governor (later President) Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, were partners; the name is also used for the political ramifications
By 1996, Clinton had succeeded in characterizing the Republican agenda as extremist while himself adopting many aspects of it. Forced to compromise on such items as welfare reform in order to assure passage of any change, Republicans passed bills that often seemed as much part of the president's program as their own. The welfare bill that he signed at the end of his term revolutionized the system, requiring that recipients work, while providing them with various subsidies to aid in the transition. Clinton won renomination by his party unopposed in 1996. Benefiting from a basically healthy economy, he handily won reelection in Nov., 1996, garnering 49% of the vote against Republican candidate Bob Dole Dole, Bob (Robert Joseph Dole), 1923–, American political leader, b. Russell, Kan.; husband of Elizabeth Hanford Dole. While serving in World War II, he was seriously wounded and required several years of convalescence.
In 1997, Clinton and the Republicans agreed on a deal that combined tax cuts and reductions in spending to produce the first balanced federal budget in three decades. The president now seemed to have mastered the art of employing incremental, rather than large-scale, governmental action to effect change, leaving the Republicans, with their announced mandate for fundamental change, to appear visionary and extreme. Having taken the center, and with stock markets continuing to boom and unemployment low, Clinton enjoyed high popularity, presiding over an enormous national surge in prosperity and innovation.
At the beginning of 1998, however, ongoing investigations into his past actions engulfed him in the Lewinsky scandal Lewinsky scandal , sensation that enveloped the presidency of Bill Clinton in 1998–99, leading to his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives and acquittal by the Senate.
The late 1990s saw a number of foreign-policy successes and setbacks for President Clinton. He continued to work for permanent peace in the Middle East, and his administration helped foster accords between the Palestinians and Israel in 1997 and 1999, but further negotiations in 2000 proved unsuccessful. Iraq's Saddam Hussein increased his resistance to UN weapons inspections in the late 1990s, leading to U.S. and British air attacks in late 1998; attacks continued at a lower level throughout much of 1999 while the issue of weapons inspections remained unresolved. In Apr.–June, 1999, a breakdown in an attempt to achieve a negotiated settlement in Kosovo Kosovo , Albanian Kosova, Serbian Kosovo i Metohija and Kosmet, officially Republic of Kosovo, republic (2011 est. pop. 1,826,000), 4,126 sq mi (10,686 sq km), SE Europe, a former province of Serbia that unilaterally declared its independence
The second term of Clinton's presidency saw a pronounced effort to use international trade agreeements to foster political changes in countries throughout the world, including Russia, China (with whom he established normal trade relations in 2000), Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia. While global trade flourished, Clinton's hopes that trade would lead to democratization and improved human rights policies in a number of countries by and large failed to be realized. In 1997 the Clinton administration had won ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (signed 1993), but it refused to join in a major international treaty banning land mines mine, in warfare, term formerly applied to a system of tunnels dug under an army fortification and ending in a chamber where either explosives were placed to be detonated at the chosen moment or the supports were burned, causing the mine and the wall above it to
Clinton benefited during his entire presidency from a strong economy, leading the country during an unprecedented period of economic expansion and, with some partisan critics giving credit to skill and some to luck, making a steady national prosperity the hallmark of his administrations. He left office having revived and strengthened the national Democratic party, which he guided toward more centrist positions, emphasizing fiscal responsibility, championing the middle class, and reversing many of the public's negative stereotypes regarding the party's liberal stance. Although Vice President Al Gore failed to win the 2000 presidential election, he won a plurality of the popular vote, and the party scored some gains in Congress, especially the Senate. The president's pardoning, however, of more than 100 people on his last day in office sparked one final controversy. Several persons he pardoned were well connnected and even notorious but not apparently deserving, and even Clinton supporters and appointees were openly critical. Charges that pardons were obtained through bribery, however, appeared to be unfounded.
No one major accomplishment or program marked Clinton's terms in office; his many real achievements were mainly incremental, and were often overshadowed by setbacks. However, through his extraordinary ability to relate to ordinary Americans, his intelligence and wit, and his skill in manipulating the media, he maintained an unusual level of popularity and a high approval rating throughout most of two terms in office. Nonetheless, the Lewinsky scandal, in particular, permanently marred his presidency. This was so although the sexual affair at its core was neither unique for Clinton, who had had other extramarital liaisons, nor for the office, some of the earlier holders of which had engaged in similar, although much less publicized, behavior.
As he left office, Clinton faced mountains of legal bills and continued threats of legal action. The youngest former president since Theodore Roosevelt, he established his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., and, moving to New York where his wife was now a senator, opened an office and foundation in Harlem Harlem, residential and business section of upper Manhattan, New York City, bounded roughly by 110th St., the East River and Harlem River, 168th St., Amsterdam Ave., and Morningside Park.
See his autobiography, My Life (2004). See also J. Brummett, Highwire (1994); E. Drew, On the Edge (1994) and Showdown (1996); D. Maraniss, First in His Class (1995); R. A. Posner, An Affair of State (1999); J. Klein, The Natural (2002); J. F. Harris, The Survivor (2005); N. Hamilton, Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency (2007); T. Branch, The Clinton Tapes (2009); K. Gormley, The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr (2010); M. Takiff, A Complicated Man (2010); W. H. Chafe, Bill and Hillary: The Politics of the Personal (2012).
Clinton, Bill (b. William Jefferson Blythe) (1946– ) forty-second president of the United States; born in Hope, Ark. His father, William Blythe, died in an auto accident three months before he was born. He was adopted by his stepfather, Roger Clinton. As a youth, he thrilled to John F. Kennedy's promise, especially when he shook Kennedy's hand in the Rose Garden in 1963. He went to Georgetown University and then to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and received what would become a controversial draft deferment during the Vietnam War. He graduated from Yale Law School (1973) and married Hillary Rodham, a fellow Yale law student (1975). A committed Democrat, he was attorney general of Arkansas (1977–79) and then won the governor's seat in 1978. Defeated for reelection in 1980, he went through a period of soul-searching and made a comeback in 1982, becoming governor again; he went on to reelection in 1984, 1986, and 1990 and was named "the most effective" by his fellow governors. Overcoming serious charges involving alleged extramarital affairs and questions about his avoiding the draft, he won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992. He was accused of "waffling" in his campaign speeches, but he kept the pressure on incumbent George Bush by focusing on the economic plight of many Americans. He won the three-way presidential race with 43% of the popular vote and 370 out of 525 electoral votes. His inauguration was notable for the participation of rock stars, poets, and the public at large, all of which led many to see his administration as the passing of the torch to a new generation, but he faced an enormous national debt and a country fragmented by social strife.
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