5 minute read

William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton

Clinton, William Jefferson (Bill), U.S. president born after World War II, the third-youngest president, and the first to take office post-Cold War. He was also the first Democratic president in 12 years, defeating Republican incumbent President George Bush and Ross Perot, an independent candidate and Texas businessman.Early life. Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe IV on Aug. 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas. He was named after his father, who had recently died in a car accident. When Bill was 4, his mother Virginia married Roger Clinton, a car dealer, and shortly thereafter the family moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas. There Virginia and Roger had another son, Roger Jr., and Bill adopted his stepfathers surname.

As a young man, Bill earned frequent academic honors. He expressed an early interest in a political career, inspired particularly by a 1963 meeting with President John F. Kennedy. Clinton was 17 at the time, visiting Washington as a delegate to the American Legion Boys Nation. In 1964 Clinton entered Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he majored in international affairs and worked as an intern for Sen. J.W. Fulbright of Arkansas. Upon receipt of his degree, he spent two years as a Rhode Scholar at Oxford University before entering Yale Law School in 1970. Throughout his schooling, Clinton remained politically active, most notably helping to manage 1972 presidential candidate George McGoverns Texas campaign. While at Yale he also met fellow law student/future wife Hillary Rodham. They were married in 1975 and five years later had a daughter, Chelsea. Entering politics. Law degree in hand, Clinton returned to Arkansas to teach and plan his political career. In 1974 he made a bid for a seat in the U.S. House but was narrowly defeated. He won his first statewide election in 1976, when he became Arkansass attorney general. Two years later he was elected, at age 32, the youngest governor in Arkansas history. He adopted a liberal, activist agenda, increasing motor vehicle licensing fees to pay for a road-improvement project, and restricting powerful timber and utilities interests. Upset voters failed to reelect him to a second term in 1980. Clinton soon rebounded, however, to win the next four gubernatorial elections in Arkansas on more moderate platforms (1982, 1984, 1986, and 1990). Beginning in 1983, Clinton decided to concentrate on two main problems, education and the economy, rather than a wide range of issues. Under his leadership Arkansas increased teachers salaries, required teacher competency exams, and established a high school entrance test for students. In addition, he expanded health-care services for the poor, introduced welfare reform, and promoted economic growth through favorable tax policies. In 1991 Clinton was rated the most effective governor in the nation in a poll of his colleagues. In addition to his duties as governor, Clinton served as vice chairman of the National Governors Association in 1985, and as chairman of the NGA in 1986 and 87.

In 1990 and 91, he headed the Democratic Leadership Council, an organization of moderate Democrats. Presidential campaign. Clinton campaigned for and won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992, weathering charges of marital infidelity, draft evasion, and marijuana use. At his request, Senator Al Gore of Tennessee, another moderate Democrat, was selected as his running mate against incumbents President Bush and Vice President Mondale. The two then took the campaign directly to the people, targeting middle-class and young voters, touring the country by bus, and answering questions on television talk shows.Clintons platform focused primarily on domestic issues, with an emphasis on the economy and the high unemployment rate. He proposed higher taxes for the wealthy, tax cuts for the middle class, job-training programs, and reductions in defense spending. Moreover, he pledged to cut the immense federal budget deficit in half in four years.

On social issues Clinton supported freedom of choice on abortion, welfare payments limited to those who cannot find work, and universal health care. His strategy proved successful, and in November his ticket won 43% of the popular vote in addition to an electoral landslide.Presidency. With one-party control of both the House and the Senate, Clinton had hoped to act on his agenda quickly, and did appoint more women and minorities to his Cabinet than had any previous president. However, his first months in office saw a number of political setbacks: Clintons proposal to end the ban on homosexuals in the military met with with widespread opposition and had to be altered substantially. In addition, the president appeared indecisive in dealing with foreign crises in Bosnia, Somalia, and Haiti.

His popularity fell, then plummeted when he failed to cut middle-class taxes. In October of 1993 he sent to Congress a plan for sweeping reform of the health-care industry, but Congress chose not to act on it. On other matters, Clintons 1993 and 1994 budgets did help to reduce the federal budget deficit, and the unemployment rate declined after Clinton took office. The president won a major victory in November 1993, when Congress approved the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA (designed to eliminate trade barriers between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico), and again in August of 1994, when Congress passed an anticrime bill he supported. Additionally, he fulfilled several campaign promises by signing into law the Family and Medical Leave Act, initiating handgun reform, raising taxes on the wealthy, and reducing them for the working poor. Decisive initiatives to check an Iraqi threat to Kuwait, to halt the development of nuclear arms in North Korea, to oust the military dictatorship in Haiti, and further the peace process in the Middle East briefly lifted Clintons poll popularity late in the year. Nonetheless, in November of 1994, the Democrats lost control of both the legislative and executive branches.

Presidential highlights in 1995 included Clintons trip to Russia in May to hold discussions with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Also in May, Clinton successfully threatened Japan with tariff increases on their luxury automobiles if they did not loosen restrictions on auto imports. Japanese car companies agreed to work toward this demand. On December 3, 1995 Clinton formally authorized the first deployment of U.S. troops to Bosnia to perform NATOs peacekeeping duties for one year. In 1998 he admitted to having had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a White House trainee. The affair undermined his authority.


Additional topics

21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Children's literature to Clumber spaniel