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|Hail to the Chief?|
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William Jefferson "Bubba" "Slick Willie" Clinton (born 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States during the peace and prosperity scare of the mid-nineties. Clinton "ended welfare as we know it," signed into law pro-business amendments to portions of the New Deal (some utterly disastrous years later), and achieved a balanced federal budget in his last three years of office. Republicans still tried to evict the moderate Democrat.
He is the second POTUS to be impeached, the other being Andrew Johnson. In 1998, Clinton perjured himself when questioned about his relationship with America's
PAWG sweetheart, Monica Lewinsky. He was impeached by the House of Representatives, disbarred, and fined—but not convicted.
He is every conservative's favorite president (after all, he is a Southern Baptist and draft dodger), although they'd rather die than admit it. Who else has given them so many excuses to act like deceitful scumballs, and then yell "Clinton Did Worse!" when called on it? Making their opponents overplay their hand is something the Clintons have been doing since Whitewater and they've totally mastered it; it took an unholy alliance between the FBI and KGB to finally bring them down.
He is married to former Secretary of State and failed Presidential candidate "Billary" Clinton. Like any good kung-fu master, he didn't teach Hillary everything in case she turned on him and ended up fighting for the other side.
- 1 Straight from the White House biography page!
- 2 "It's the economy, stupid!"
- 3 Party's over
- 4 Casus belli
- 5 You and me, baby, ain't nuthin' but mammals
- 6 Vince Foster conspiracy theories
- 7 Lapse into Trump-ism
- 8 Famous Clinton quotes
- 9 See also
- 10 Videos
- 11 Notes
- 12 External links
- 13 References
Straight from the White House biography page!
“”During the administration of William Jefferson Clinton, the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history. He was the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to serve two full terms. He could point to the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country's history, dropping crime rates in many places, and reduced welfare rolls. He proposed the first balanced budget in decades and achieved a budget surplus. As part of a plan to celebrate the millennium in 2000, Clinton called for a great national initiative to end racial discrimination.
"It's the economy, stupid!"
The above title was strategist James Carville's primary advice to Bill Clinton during the 1992 Presidential campaign. The advice seemed to resonate with the to-be President. Clinton was facing an incumbent president with approval ratings through the roof following the Gulf War. There was even an SNL sketch that featured a "debate" in which top Democrats tried to warn the American people they were the wrong people for the job. Clinton got lucky in that the economy tanked during an election year. Bush, having lived through the Great Depression and the 1970s, just couldn't empathize with Gen-Xers while Clinton was awesome at this. On top of all that, Perot entered the race. While he didn't get many votes, what he did was trash Bush in the debates and keep the economy front-and-center in the public mind. Plus, theirs was a Texan feud: Perot treated Bush like Trump treated Jeb!
During Bill Clinton's eight years as President of the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained approximately 8,000 points. In contrast, under Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, the index fell more than a net 1,000 points.
“”We're a heavily medicated society. All the drugs we take: Prozac, Effexor, Valium. I thought for the last ten years, we've been on some weird fucking drug — the whole country — called Fukitol. What a weird fucking drug. And we're just coming out of it and we're kind of waking up. Fuckin'-A! It's weird: It's like you're going, "last thing I remember was the economy was working and there was a budget surplus."
|—Robin Williams, Weapons of Self-Destruction|
First off, the Clinton era was weird. The Soviet Union had collapsed, and everyone else breathed a huge sigh of relief, electing the affable, "bang anything", jazz-playing Clinton. Military spending came down dramatically under Bush I and continued under Clinton, who broadly continued Bush's economic policies. Technology was really starting to come to the fore, and people were thinking in utopian terms. At the same time, the internet got huge, and the Silicon Valley bubble (which would eventually pop in 2000, at the start of Bush II's term) drove massive investment and growth throughout the late 90's.
The Clintons are examples of living long enough to see yourself become the villain. Prior to, say, the year 2000, being "obstructionist" was a serious charge that could lose you your seat. Willingness to compromise was seen as a necessary trait for the job. That's why the '90s political landscape is so hard for younger voters to accept as they're trying to parse some of these bills like the '90s crime bill or the welfare act. They're used to a world where, if a member of Congress doesn't like a bill, they're expected to do everything in their power to get it to fail. But in the '90s, if you didn't like a bill, you were supposed to do everything in your power to get things you liked included (earmarked) into it so you could vote for the bill in good conscience. That's why you have things like Bernie Sanders voting for the crime bill. That's why you have things like Bill Clinton signing the otherwise- execrable welfare bill: he'd already vetoed several previous versions of the bill and knew that if he vetoed it again, he'd become labeled an "obstructionist" president and probably both lose the presidency and allow the GOP to capture several seats in Congress as well (allowing them to pass an even worse version of the bill). This culture of being able to just shut the opposite side down with zero consequence is a new thing.
The Democratic party was on the verge of dying out before Bill got elected, and he only managed to secure their prospects with the Clinton amnesty, which caused several blood-red states like California to go deep blue. Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, concentrated on a fifty state strategy. One of the cleverest things he did was to network with community leaders, cops, school principals, and (most successfully) small business owners. His other bright idea was to identify suburban Democrats with "east coast elites", which hurt the party a lot. It is no accident that the Democrats collapsed in rural areas at the same time hate radio and Fox News were becoming popular. Bill's popularity masked a lot of problems that were bubbling under the surface, eroding the base bit-by-bit until only the west coast and New England were left.
The fall of the USSR precipitated several mid-scale conflicts in the former Yugoslavia: Bosnia and Kosovo. The UN was involved but largely ineffectual; after a prolonged period, Clinton finally approved US air support and weapons to be deployed. The Balkan conflicts received press coverage but very little on-the-ground footage, so they weren't very 'visible' to the US public. Clinton also worked closely with the U.N. in several peacekeeping missions, most infamously the "Blackhawk Down" event in which 18 servicemen were killed and their bodies were broadcast being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu on global television. (Since then, it is common practice for the GOP to snub the U.N., since Somalia was a source of international embarrassment.) This caused Clinton to immediately pull out of Somalia, and almost certainly played a role in his later decision to not intervene in the Rwandan genocide. The optics of generally-white US servicemen shooting black Rwandans on American TV was a major factor influencing the decision. As a result, some 800,000 Rwandans were hacked to death in relatively short order with knives and machetes. Clinton has repeatedly stated that this is the biggest mistake of his presidency.
It seems that after Rwanda and Bosnia, the international community began to fret over when intervention is necessary and justified. After Iraq, it has skewed back towards the unintended consequences of intervention and regime change.
You and me, baby, ain't nuthin' but mammals
Ken Starr was appointed to investigate Whitewater. From there he moved to the death of Vince Foster and then Troopergate. The Lewinsky affair fell into his lap as it was becoming apparent there wasn't much to investigate. The Starr Report states that they wrung it out like a wet towel over a bathtub just to get the DNA sample.
Clinton had a reputation as a philanderer from the start, but he spent a lot of time issuing blanket denials. As it turned out, one of the claimants (Paula Jones) had become a born-again Christian, and didn't appreciate her new-found celebrity. She sued Clinton and, in order to show a pattern of behavior, dug up a few of Clinton's former paramours. Monica had been moved to a job in the Pentagon, where she confided the affair to a coworker, who advised her not to dry-clean a particular blue dress. Had Clinton not fallen for the perjury trap on the Saturday when he was deposed, he would not have been impeached, because
eatin' ain't cheatin' having an affair isn't against the law. (Of course, Bill was probably more afraid of Hillary than impeachment.)
Republicans will today refer to Clinton as a "sexual predator" (funny when your ranks have an actual one) and claim that feminazis ganged up on Lewinsky and bullied her into silence (a claim brought forth recently by Lewinsky herself in a Vanity Fair article), forgetting that it was clear that Paula Jones' claim of assault was bogus. Starr spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in a multi-year, stringent investigation of Bill's personal and professional life, and found nothing to prove that Bill was any kind of rapist, or that the Clintons covered anything up. Ironically, the initial affair began the day Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress shut down the government over budget issues.
The coverage wasn't initially a political thing so much as it was a salacious sex thing. Liberals of the time loved to point out that the French prime minister openly kept a mistress and she attended state functions. Bear in mind that many prominent House Republicans (Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr, Robert Livingston, Henry Hyde) had their own sex scandals uncovered during this time, by Larry Flynt no less. Republicans thought they had a strong case to impeach President Clinton and remove him from office. But they apparently never read the Constitution, as it only allows for impeachment of the President in the case of "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors". The President has the right to privacy just like everyone else: he is not above the law, but he is not beneath the law, either.
The GOP screwed up so bad that the Democrats actually won seats during the 1998 midterms, one of only a few times the party controlling the presidency has done so in American history.
Though history will marginalize it, the Lewinsky scandal did leave a stain on Clinton's legacy; it sufficiently damaged him in view of the party that Al Gore, his VP, didn't include him in any meaningful way during Gore's own Presidential bid, which could be in many ways a mistake. When George W. Bush was elected, it was seen by many conservatives as a return of class to the office.[note 1]
This impeachment trial gave us the infamous quote "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."
When confronted with allegations that he had engaged in sexual improprieties, Clinton argued that while Monica Lewinsky had engaged in sexual relations, he did not:
[I]f the deponent is the person who has oral sex performed on him, then the contact is with — not with anything on that list, but with the lips of another person. It seems to be self-evident that that's what it is... Let me remind you, sir, I read this carefully.
It depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.
It depends on how you define alone…
There were a lot of times when we were alone, but I never really thought we were.
Vince Foster conspiracy theories
In 1993, former White House aide Vince Foster committed suicide. This set off the wingnuts and they dove straight into conspiracy-land. Joseph Farah, before he was a birther-enabler, squawked about a bunch of "magic bullet" theories that supposedly proved Foster was murdered. Most of the theories speculated only about Foster being whacked by Clinton, but there was an entire "Clinton death list" circulating around the world of e-mail forwards. All of this is complete bullshit with no evidence supporting it.
Lapse into Trump-ism
Clinton is the politician most identified with the "New Democrat" trend within the Democratic Party due to his promise of welfare reform and middle-class tax cuts in 1992, as well as the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit one year later. However, on occasion this led Clinton to lapse into Trumpisms: Clinton's 1996 talk on illegal immigration drew some to make comparisons to Trump, and NumbersUSA provided a video comparing Trump and Clinton's quotes on immigration. Furthermore, in 1987, Clinton signed into law that the highest blue star on the flag of Arkansas stood for the Confederacy, although the reasoning for this is somewhat more complex than it might originally seem.
More recently, at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Clinton's comments about "If you're a Muslim and you love America and freedom and you hate terror, stay here and help us win and make a future together, we want you" were accused of sliding into Trumpism, by making the assumption that American Muslims should somehow have to prove their loyalty to America.
Famous Clinton quotes
Fun fact: Clinton is a lifelong sufferer of laryngitis, which explains his distinctive rasp.
- "When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it. I didn't inhale and never tried it again." – Bill Clinton
- "What's a man got to do to get in the top fifty?" – Bill Clinton, reacting to a survey of journalists that ranked the Monica Lewinsky scandal as the 53rd most significant story of the century.
- "Being president is like running a cemetery: you've got a lot of people under you and nobody's listening." – Bill Clinton
- "I asked him to do it because he was the only person that I could trust to read all 150,000 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations." – Bill Clinton, on asking Vice President Al Gore to tackle federal regulatory reform.
- "Well, I don't have much job security." – Bill Clinton, in 1992, on why he still plays the saxophone.
- "If President Reagan could be an actor and become president, maybe I could become an actor. I've got a good pension. I can work for cheap." - Bill Clinton, at a Hollywood fundraiser.
- "I may not have been the greatest president, but I've had the most fun eight years." – Bill Clinton
His most famous - or rather, infamous - quote, however, is this one:
- 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman."
- Tony Blair New Labour was shockingly effective at first. One can still hear D:Ream echoing in the noggin.
- Benghazi — It's been a permanent investigation since Bill was governor. And then, there's the next rung on the ladder: Hillary. (It's the Kennedys all over again: the right wing gets mad and has to investigate forever.)
- Thomas Jefferson - At the same time the Lewinsky case was exploding, came news of the DNA tests that confirmed Tom fathered children with his housemaid.
- Luckily for them, getting
perjureda blowjob is the very worst a man can do.
- She doesn't know where those lips have been.
- How Websites Today Would Report the Lewinsky Scandal
- Now this would have been a more fun outrage.
- Greg Proops, Just for Laughs 2007
- Karoun Demirjian and Devlin Barrett, "How a dubious Russian document influenced the FBI’s handling of the Clinton probe", WaPo 24 May 2017.
- Overall debt didn't go down, but the federal government finally saw daylight for the first time in decades.
- William J. Clinton, Whitehouse.gov
- Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) History, New York Stock Exchange
- Holmes, Steven A., "Clinton Defines the Limits of Compromise With GOP; Gingrich Urges 'Dialogue'", The New York Times 4.8.95.
- Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn, "Clintons, Contras and Cocaine", Counterpunch 3.11.16. Branches of the scheme were set up in Mena, Arkansas. Hillary is not exactly spotless here, either.
- Bill Clinton Regrets Rwanda Now, ABC. His largest foreign policy fuckup.
- Nature of President Clinton's Relationship with Monica Lewinsky, CNN
- Clinton as the First Black President, The New Yorker
- Snopes debunks the Clinton body count
- See the Wikipedia article on New Democrats.
- Schwartz, Ian (May 17, 2016). "1996 Flashback: Bill Clinton Talks Like Trump On Immigration: "We Are A Nation Of Laws"". Real Clear Politics.
- Bobic, Igor (June 22, 2015). "As Governor, Bill Clinton Kept 'Confederate' Star On Arkansas' Flag". The Huffington Post.
- Murphy, Patricia (June 24, 2015). "The Clinton-Confederate Flag Conspiracy Theory Is a New Low". The Daily Beast.
- Emperor (July 28, 2016). "Bill Clinton's #DNC Speech: Propagates "Good Muslim vs. Bad Muslim" Dichotomy". Loonwatch.
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*Ran for VP on the "National Union" ticket together with Lincoln but was otherwise a lifelong Democrat