Bill Clinton

William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001. Before his election as President, Clinton served nearly 12 years as the 50th and 52nd Governor of Arkansas. His wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is the junior United States Senator from New York, where they both reside. Clinton founded and heads the William J. Clinton Foundation.

William Jefferson Blythe III was born in Hope, Arkansas, and raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was named after his father, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., a traveling salesman who died in a car accident three months before he was born. His mother, born Virginia Dell Cassidy (1923–1994), remarried in 1950 to Roger Clinton. Roger Clinton owned an automobile dealership business with his brother, Raymond. The young Billy, as he was called, was raised by his mother and stepfather, assuming his last name "Clinton" throughout elementary school but not formally changing it until he was 14. Clinton grew up in a traditional, albeit blended, family; however, according to Clinton, his stepfather was a gambler and an alcoholic who regularly abused Clinton's mother and sometimes Clinton's half-brother Roger, Jr.

Bill Clinton as a child went to St. John's Catholic School and Ramble Elementary School. While at Hot Springs High School, Clinton was an excellent student and a talented saxophonist. He considered dedicating his life to music, but a visit to the White House to meet then-President John F. Kennedy following his election as a Boys Nation Senator led him to pursue a career in politics. Clinton was a member of Youth Order of DeMolay but never actually became a Freemason.

Clinton received a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (B.S.F.S.) degree from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., where he became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega, worked for Senator J. William Fulbright, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and won a Rhodes Scholarship to University College, Oxford. While at Oxford, he played rugby union as a lock, and later in life he played for the Little Rock Rugby club in Arkansas. There he also participated in the Vietnam War protest movement. After Oxford, Clinton obtained a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Yale Law School in 1973. While at Yale, he began dating classmate Hillary Rodham. They married in 1975 and their only child, Chelsea, was born in 1980. Clinton is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity, Inc.

In 1974, his first year as a University of Arkansas law professor, Clinton ran for the House of Representatives. The incumbent, John Paul Hammerschmidt, defeated Clinton with 52% of the vote. In 1976, Clinton was elected Attorney General of Arkansas without opposition in the general election.

In 1978, Bill Clinton was first elected Governor of Arkansas, the youngest to be elected governor since 1938. His first term was fraught with difficulties, including an unpopular motor vehicle tax and popular anger over the escape of Cuban prisoners (from the Mariel boatlift) detained in Fort Chaffee in 1980.

In the 1980 election, Clinton was defeated in his bid for a second term by Republican challenger Frank D. White. As he once joked, he was the youngest ex-governor in the nation's history. But in 1982, Clinton won his old job back, and over the next decade he helped Arkansas transform its economy. He became a leading figure among the New Democrats, a branch of the Democratic Party that called for welfare reform, smaller government, policy supported by both Democrats and Republicans alike.

Clinton's approach mollified conservative criticism during his terms as governor. However, personal and business transactions made by the Clintons during this period became the basis of the Whitewater investigation, which dogged his later presidential Administration. After very extensive investigation over several years, no indictments were made against the Clintons related to the years in Arkansas.

There was some media speculation in 1987 that Clinton would enter the race for 1988 Democratic presidential nomination after then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo declined to run and Democratic frontrunner Gary Hart bowed out due to revelations about marital infidelity. Often referred to as the "Boy Governor" at the time because of his youthful appearance, Clinton decided to remain as Arkansas Governor and postpone his presidential ambitions until 1992. Presenting himself as a moderate and a member of the New Democrat wing of the Democratic Party, he headed the moderate Democratic Leadership Council in 1990 and 1991.

In 1992, Clinton was the early favorite of Democratic Party insiders and elected officials for the presidential nomination, therefore he was able to rack up scores of Super Delegates even before the first nominating contests were conducted. In spite of this, Clinton began his 1992 presidential quest on a sour note by finishing near the back of the pack in the Iowa caucus, which was largely uncontested due to the presence of favorite-son Senator Tom Harkin, who was the easy winner. Clinton’s real trouble, however, began during New Hampshire Primary campaign, when revelations of a possible extramarital affair with Gennifer Flowers began to surface. Clinton and his wife Hillary decided to go on 60 Minutes following the Super Bowl to rebut those charges of infidelity, which had started to take their toll, as Clinton had fallen way behind former Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas in the New Hampshire polls. In fact, his campaign was beginning to unravel. Their TV appearance was a calculated risk, but it seemed to pay off as Clinton regained some of his lost footing. He still finished second to Tsongas in the New Hampshire Primary, but the media viewed it as a moral victory for Clinton, since he came within single digits of winning after trailing badly in the polls. Clinton shrewdly labeled himself “The Comeback Kid” on election night to help foster this perception and came out of New Hampshire on a roll. Tsongas, on the other hand, picked up little or no momentum from his victory.

Clinton used his new-found momentum to storm to through the Southern primaries, including the big prizes of Florida and Texas, and build up a sizable delegate lead over his opponents in the race for the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination. However, there were still some doubts as to whether he could secure the nomination, as former California Governor Jerry Brown was scoring victories in other parts of the country and Clinton had yet to win a significant contest outside of his native South. With no major Southern state remaining on the primary calendar, Clinton set his sights on the delegate-rich New York Primary, which was to be his proving ground. Much to the surprise of some, Clinton scored a resounding victory in New York. It was a watershed moment for him, as he had finally broken through and shed his image as a regional candidate and as centrist Democrat whose standing with Northern liberals was questionable. Having been transformed into the consensus candidate, he took on an air of inevitability and was able to cruise to the nomination, topping it off with a victory on Brown’s home turf in the California Primary.

Clinton won the 1992 Presidential election (43.0% of the vote) against Republican George H. W. Bush (37.4% of the vote) and billionaire populist H. Ross Perot, who ran as an independent (18.9% of the vote) on a platform focusing on domestic issues; a large part of his success was Bush's steep decline in public approval. Previously described as "unbeatable" because of his approval ratings in the 80% range during the Persian Gulf conflict, Bush saw his public approval rating drop to just over 40% by election time.

Additionally, Bush reneged on his promise ("Read My Lips: No New Taxes!") not to raise taxes when he compromised with Democrats in an attempt to lower the Federal deficits. This hurt him among conservatives. Clinton capitalized on Bush's policy switch, repeatedly condemning the President for failing to keep his promise.

Finally, Bush's coalition was in disarray. Conservatives had been united by anti-communism, but with the end of the Cold War, old rivalries re-emerged. The Republican Convention of 1992 was dominated by evangelical Christians, alarming some moderate voters who thought the Republican Party had been taken over by religious conservatives. All this worked in Clinton's favor. Clinton could point to his moderate, 'New Democrat' record as governor of Arkansas. Liberal Democrats were impressed by Clinton's academic credentials, his 1960s-era protest record, and support for social causes such as a woman's right to choose. Many Democrats who had supported Ronald Reagan and Bush in previous elections switched their allegiance to the more moderate Clinton.

His election ended an era of Republican rule, including 12 consecutive years in the White House and 20 of the previous 24 years. That election also brought the Democrats full control of the political branches of the federal government, including both houses of Congress as well as the presidency, for the first time since 1980.

Shortly after taking office, Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which required large employers to allow their employees to take unpaid leave because of pregnancy or serious medical condition. While this action was popular, Clinton's attempt to fulfill another campaign promise of allowing openly gay men and lesbians serving in the armed forces was the subject of criticism. His handling of the issue garnered criticism from both the left (for being too tentative in promoting gay rights) and the right (for being too insensitive to military life). After much debate, the Congress - which has sole power under the U.S. Constitution to regulate the armed forces - implemented the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, stating that homosexual men and women may serve in the military as long as their sexuality is kept secret. By 1999, Clinton said he didn't "think any serious person could say" that the policy was not "out of whack". Some gay rights advocates criticized Clinton for not going far enough and accused him of making his campaign promise simply to get votes and contributions. These advocates felt Clinton should have integrated the military by executive order, noting that President Harry Truman ended segregation of the armed forces in that manner. Clinton's defenders argued that an executive order might have prompted the then-Democrat-controlled Senate to write the exclusion of gays into law, potentially making it even harder to integrate the military in the future.

Critics, however, said that the issue was one that should be experimented on in society as a whole, not in the military. The military's goal was not to be a "social Petri dish," but to defend the nation.

Clinton promoted another controversial issue during this period: that of free trade. In 1993, Clinton supported the North American Free Trade Agreement for ratification by the U.S. Senate. Despite being negotiated by his Republican predecessor, Clinton (along with most of his Democratic Leadership Committee allies) strongly supported free trade measures. Opposition came from both anti-trade Republicans and protectionist Democrats and supporters of Ross Perot. Ultimately, the treaty was ratified.

Clinton also signed into law the Brady Bill, which imposed a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases. President Clinton expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits working class families with dependent children.

One of the most prominent items on Clinton's legislative agenda, however, was a health care reform plan, the result of a taskforce headed by Hillary Clinton, aimed at achieving universal coverage via a national healthcare plan. Though initially well-received in political circles, it was ultimately doomed by well-organized opposition from conservatives, the American Medical Association, and the health insurance industry. Despite his party holding a majority in the House and Senate, the effort to create a national healthcare system ultimately died under heavy public pressure. It was the first major legislative defeat of Clinton's administration.

Two months later, after two years of Democratic party control under Clinton's leadership, the mid-term elections in 1994 proved disastrous for the Democrats. They lost control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, widely viewed as the American public's rejection of the Clinton agenda, including universal healthcare.

The spotlight shifted to the Contract with America spearheaded by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. This initiative presented a blanket of traditional Republican proposals, plus a number of anti-corruption measures. Without a friendly legislative body, Clinton shifted from pushing new policy to blocking the Republican (GOP) agenda. Though he campaigned hard against the Contract with America, in the end he signed 3/4 of the Contract provisions that reached his desk. Some of the Contract items vetoed by Clinton include $500 per child tax credit, lawsuit abuse reform, preventing U.N. command of U.S. troops, and a measure requiring a balanced budget by 2002 (7 years).

In August of 1993, Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 which passed Congress without a single Republican vote. It raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers, while cutting taxes on 15 million low-income families and making tax cuts available to 90 percent of small businesses. Additionally, it mandated that the budget be balanced over a number of years, and put spending restraints in place. The Republicans objected vociferously, claiming that it would wreck the economy. In November of 1994, the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. They were furious at being strait jacketed into spending cuts by the bill, but they couldn't ignore it without appearing to be softer on deficit spending than the Democrats.

In 1996, the GOP passed a budget with significant spending cuts thinking that Clinton could either sign the bill (a major political defeat) or veto it (resulting in a shutdown of most government services). GOP leaders believed that their recently energized supporters would stand with them, while the shutdown would be blamed on Clinton's veto of the spending bills. Clinton instead vetoed the bills and staged a media blitz, rallying his constituencies to blame the shutdown on the Republicans. The public largely agreed with Clinton's interpretation of the situation, and the Republicans suffered a major political defeat and cost them Congressional seats in the 1998 midterm elections. The perception that the congressional Republicans were dangerous reactionaries stayed with them for the remainder of the Clinton presidency, and Clinton repeatedly made use of this perception to pass his initiatives while blocking theirs.

Another major challenge posed by the Contract with America: that of welfare reform. The welfare system, unpopular with middle-class voters, was a major target of the Republicans. However, rather than present the programs as inefficient, bureaucratic and expensive, as they had (unsuccessfully) done in the past, their new tactic was to focus on the success of welfare in its stated goal: fighting poverty. In this they were more successful. Using statistics often compiled by welfare advocates to demand more spending, they pointed to a widening gap between rich and poor and the emergence of a dependent welfare "underclass." Under their proposed welfare reform, individuals could not receive benefits for more than five years. States, meanwhile, would receive "block grants" of federal funds that they would be free to spend on anti-poverty initiatives as they wished, rather than according to federal rules. This amounted to a major shift in welfare policy, and was bitterly contested by Democrats. Clinton, however, supported the plan, though not until the third time it was presented to him. In his 1992 campaign, he promised to "end welfare as we know it". In 1996, Republicans tried again to fulfil the welfare portion of the Contract with America and bet that Clinton wouldn't veto the welfare reform bill for a third time, just before an election. In the previous four years, Clinton had not attempted any welfare reform, not even when the Democrats controlled both the Senate and the House. On August 22, Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996, which included time limits for welfare, work requirements, and assistance for people transitioning to work. This bill was very similar to the one twice vetoed by Clinton in 1995. However with the election in sight, Clinton didn't want to be seen as reneging on his campaign promise regarding welfare and give the Republicans a campaign issue, similar to the George Bush "no new taxes" issue that Clinton had taken advantage of four years earlier.

In the 1996 presidential election a few months later, Clinton was re-elected, receiving 49.2% of the popular vote over Republican Bob Dole (40.7% of the popular vote) and Reform candidate Ross Perot (8.4% of the popular vote), becoming the first Democrat to win reelection to the presidency since Franklin Roosevelt. The Republicans lost a few seats in the House and gained a few in the Senate, but overall retained control of the Congress. Although he did not win a clear majority of the popular vote, Clinton received over 70% of the electoral college vote.

Throughout 1998, there was a controversy over Clinton's relationship with a young White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton initially denied the affair while testifying in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. The opposing lawyers asked the president about it during his deposition. He stated "I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her." Four days later he also said, "There is not a sexual relationship, an improper sexual relationship, or any other kind of improper relationship."

Clinton then appeared on national television on January 26 and stated: "Listen to me, I'm going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." However, after it was revealed that investigators had obtained a semen-stained dress as well as testimony from Lewinsky, Clinton changed tactics and admitted that an improper relationship with Lewinsky had taken place: "Indeed I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible."

Faced with overwhelming evidence, he apologized to the nation, agreed to pay a $25,000 court fine, settled his sexual harassment lawsuit with Paula Jones for $850,000 and was temporarily disbarred from practicing law in Arkansas and before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was not tried for perjury in a court. However, he did admit to "testifying falsely" in a carefully worded statement as part of a deal to avoid indictment for perjury.

In a lame duck session after the 1998 elections, the Republican-controlled House voted to impeach Clinton. The next year, the Senate voted to acquit Clinton of what many have alleged were politically-motivated charges.

In the closing year of his Administration, Clinton attempted to address the Arab-Israeli conflict. After initial successes such as the Oslo accords of the early 90's, the situation had quietly deteriorated, breaking down completely with the start of the Second Intifada. Clinton brought Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat together at Camp David. However, these negotiations proved unsuccessful. Critics charged Clinton with trying to "shoot the moon" to benefit his historical legacy, but instead making the situation worse with a botched negotiation. Supporters consider Clinton to have attempted to address new tensions from the recent outbreak of violence at its root causes, and that Clinton can hardly be blamed for a decades-old conflict. Some further argue that the perception that Arafat walked away from an offer that supposedly contained all of his previously stated demands enabled the US to pursue a more pro-Israel policy in later years.

Despite occasional political troubles, Clinton remained popular with the majority of the American people. In addition to his political skills, Clinton also benefited from a boom of the US economy. Under Clinton, the United States had a projected federal budget surplus for the first time since 1969, though it never came to fruition. While Clinton, Congress and the private sector, as well as the peace dividend following the fall of the Soviet Union, have all been given credit at different times, this economic success was a source of immense political strength for Clinton. Clinton remained popular with the public throughout his two terms as President, ending his presidential career with a 65% approval rating, the highest end-of-term approval rating of any President since Eisenhower.

Major legislation signed:

* 1993-02-05 - The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
* 1993-08-10 - Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 - Raised income tax rates; income tax, top rate: 39.6%; corporate tax: 35%
* 1993-09-21 - creation of the AmeriCorps volunteer program
* 1993-11-30 - Brady Bill
* 1994-09-13 - Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, part of an omnibus crime bill, the federal death penalty was expanded to some 60 different offenses (see Federal assault weapons ban)
* 1996-02-01 - Communications Decency Act
* 1996-02-08 - Telecom Reform Act: eliminated major ownership restrictions for radio and television groups.
* 1996-02-26 - Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, a welfare reform bill
* 1996-03-14 - authorized $100 million counter-terrorism agreement with Israel to track down and root out terrorists.
* 1996-04-09 - Line Item Veto Act
* 1996-04-24 - Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
* 1996-08-20 - Minimum wage Increase Act
* 1996-09-21 - Defense of Marriage Act, allowed states to refuse recognition of certain same-sex marriages, and defined marriage as between a male and female for purposes of federal law
* 1997-08-05 - Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
* 1998-10-28 - Digital Millennium Copyright Act
* 1998-10-31 - Iraq Liberation Act

Major legislation vetoed:

* national budget
* H.R. 1833, partial birth abortion ban
* Twice vetoed welfare reform before signing
* the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Congress overrode the veto, however, to enact the bill into law.

Proposals not passed by Congress:

* Health care reform
* Campaign finance reform (1993)


* Appointed a committee on Social Security Reform, but dismissed their recommendations
* Tried to get Ehud Barak of Israel and Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian National Authority, to agree to a final settlement agreement.
* Initiated the Don't ask, don't tell policy toward gays in the military, 1993.
* Reversed a ban on senior Sinn Féin politicians entering the U.S.
* Proposed a national challenge to end the racial divide in America, the One America Initiative.
* Extraordinary rendition got approval for the first time in the USA from the Clinton administration.

Clinton appointed the following justices to the Supreme Court, both now widely viewed as the most liberal members of the the court:

* Ruth Bader Ginsburg - 1993, making Clinton the first Democratic president to appoint a female Supreme Court justice.

* Stephen Breyer - 1994

Clinton's presidency included the longest period of economic growth in America's history, credited in large part to budget reforms as well as the peace dividend following the demise of the Soviet Union. After numerous reports revealed that the federal budget deficit would be far greater than expected, President Clinton quickly made cutting the deficit a high priority. Clinton submitted a budget that would cut the deficit by $500 billion over five years by reducing $255 billion of spending and raising taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of Americans. It also imposed a new energy tax on all Americans and subjected about a quarter of those receiving Social Security payments to higher taxes on their benefits.

Republican Congressional leaders launched an aggressive opposition against the bill, claiming that the tax increase would only make matters worse. Republicans were united in this opposition, as it were, and every Republican in both houses of Congress voted against the proposal. In fact, it took Vice President Gore's tie-breaking vote in the Senate to pass the bill. After extensive lobbying by the Clinton Administration, the House narrowly voted in favor of the bill by a vote of 218 to 216. The budget package expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as relief to low-income families. It reduced the amount they paid in federal income and FICA taxes, providing $21 billion in relief for 15 million low-income families. Improved economic conditions and policies served to encourage investors in the bond market, leading to a decline in long-term interest rates. The bill contributed to dramatic decline of the budget deficit in the years following its enactment–in 2002, for the first time since 1969, the nation achieved a budget surplus. The surplus money was used to pay down the national debt, which had risen to $5.4 trillion by 1997. The economy continued to grow, and in February 2000 it broke the record for the longest uninterrupted economic expansion in U.S. history—lasting ten years. In the year 2000, the nation was on track to be debt free for the first time in history by 2008.

After Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, Clinton vehemently fought their proposed tax cuts, believing that they favored the wealthy and would weaken economic growth. In August 1997, however, Clinton and Congressional Republicans were finally able to reach a compromise on a bill that reduced capital gain and estate taxes and gave taxpayers a credit of $500 per child and tax credits for college tuition and expenses. The bill also called for a new individual retirement account (IRA) called the Roth IRA to allow people to invest taxed income for retirement without having to pay taxes upon withdrawal. Additionally, the law raised the national minimum for cigarette taxes. The next year, Congress approved Clinton’s proposal to make college more affordable by expanding the financial-aid program known as Pell grants and lowering interest rates on student loans.

Clinton also battled Congress nearly every session on the federal budget, in an attempt to secure spending on education, government entitlements, the environment, and AmeriCorps–the national service program that was passed by the Democratic Congress in the early days of the Clinton administration. The two sides, however, could not find a compromise and the budget battle came to a stalemate in 1995 over proposed cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment. After Clinton vetoed numerous Republican spending bills, Republicans in Congress twice refused to pass temporary spending authorizations, forcing the federal government to partially shut down because agencies had no budget on which to operate.

In April 1996 Clinton and Congress finally agreed on a budget that provided money for government agencies until the end of the fiscal year in October. The budget included some of the spending cuts that the Republicans supported (decreasing the cost of cultural, labor, and housing programs) but also preserved many programs that Clinton wanted, including educational and environmental ones.

The Clinton presidency left America with record economic growth and prosperity:

* Average economic growth of 4.0 percent per year, compared to average growth of 2.8 percent during the previous years. The economy grew for 116 consecutive months, the most in history.

* Creation of more than 22.5 million jobs—the most jobs ever created under a single administration, and more than were created in the previous 12 years. Of the total new jobs, 20.7 million, or 92 percent, were in the private sector.

* Economic gains spurred an increase in family incomes for all Americans. Since 1993, real median family income increased by $6,338, from $42,612 in 1993 to $48,950 in 1999 (in 1999 dollars).

* Overall unemployment dropped to the lowest level in more than 30 years, down from 6.9 percent in 1993 to just 4.0 percent in January 2001. The unemployment rate was below 5 percent for 40 consecutive months. Unemployment for African Americans fell from 14.2 percent in 1992 to 7.3 percent in 2000, the lowest rate on record. Unemployment for Hispanics fell from 11.8 percent in October 1992 to 5.0 percent in 2000, also the lowest rate on record.

* Inflation dropped to its lowest rate since the Kennedy Administration, averaging 2.5 percent, and fell from 4.7 percent during the previous administration.

* The homeownership rate reached 67.7 percent near the end of the Clinton administration, the highest rate on record. In contrast, the homeownership rate fell from 65.6 percent in the first quarter of 1981 to 63.7 percent in the first quarter of 1993.

* The poverty rate also declined from 15.1 percent in 1993 to 11.8 percent in 1999, the largest six-year drop in poverty in nearly 30 years. This left 7 million fewer people in poverty than there were in 1993.

* The surplus in fiscal year 2000 was $237 billion—the third consecutive surplus and the largest surplus ever.

* President Clinton reached across the aisle and worked with the Republican-led Congress to enact welfare reform. As a result, welfare rolls dropped dramatically and were the lowest since 1969. Between January 1993 and September of 1999, the number of welfare recipients dropped by 7.5 million (a 53 percent decline) to 6.6 million. In comparison, between 1981-1992, the number of welfare recipients increased by 2.5 million (a 22 percent increase) to 13.6 million people.

Clinton made it one of his goals as president to pass trade legislation that lowered the barriers to trade with other nations. He broke with many of his supporters, including labor unions, and those in his own party to support free-trade legislation. Opponents argued that lowering tariffs and relaxing rules on imports would cost American jobs because people would buy cheaper products from other countries. Clinton countered that free trade would help America because it would allow the U.S. to boost its exports and grow the economy. Clinton also believed that free trade could help move foreign nations to economic and political reform.

Clinton’s first trade proposal was the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which would gradually reduce tariffs and create a free-trading bloc North American countries–the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Opponents of NAFTA, led by Ross Perot, claimed it would force American companies to move their workforces to Mexico, where they could produce goods with cheaper labor and ship them back to the United States at lower prices. Clinton, however, argued that NAFTA would increase U.S. exports and create new jobs. He convinced many Democrats to join most Republicans in supporting trade agreement and in 1993 the Congress passed the treaty.

Clinton also held meetings with leaders of Pacific Rim nations to discuss lowering trade barriers. In November 1993 he hosted a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Seattle, Washington, which was attended by the leaders of 12 Pacific Rim nations. In 1994, Clinton arranged an agreement in Indonesia with Pacific Rim nations to gradually remove trade barriers and open their markets.

Officials in the Clinton administration also participated in the final round of trade negotiations sponsored by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), an international trade organization. The negotiations had been ongoing since 1986. In a rare move, Clinton convened Congress to ratify the trade agreement in the winter of 1994, during which the treaty was approved. As part of the GATT agreement, a new international trade body, the World Trade Organization (WTO), replaced GATT in 1995. The new WTO had stronger authority to enforce trade agreements and covered a wider range of trade than did GATT.

Clinton faced his first defeat on trade legislation during his second term. In November 1997, the Republican-controlled Congress delayed voting on a bill to restore a presidential trade authority that had expired in 1994. The bill would have given the president the authority to negotiate trade agreements which the Congress was not authorized to modify–known as "fast-track negotiating" because it streamlines the treaty process. Clinton was unable to generate sufficient support for the legislation, even among the Democratic Party.

Clinton faced yet another trade setback in December 1999, when the WTO met in Seattle for a new round of trade negotiations. Clinton hoped that new agreements on issues such as agriculture and intellectual property could be proposed at the meeting, but the talks fell through. Anti-WTO protesters in the streets of Seattle disrupted the meetings and the international delegates attending the meetings were unable to compromise mainly because delegates from smaller, poorer countries resisted Clinton’s efforts to discuss labor and environmental standards.

That same year, Clinton signed a landmark trade agreement with China. The agreement–the result of more than a decade of negotiations–would lower many trade barriers between the two countries, making it easier to export U.S. products such as automobiles, banking services, and motion pictures. However, the agreement could only take effect if China was accepted into the WTO and was granted permanent “normal trade relations” status by the U.S. Congress. Under the pact, the United States would support China’s membership in the WTO. Many Democrats as well as Republicans were relunctant to grant permanent status to China because they were concerned about human rights in the country and the impact of Chinese imports on U.S. industries and jobs. Congress, however, voted in 2000 to grant permanent normal trade relations with China.

The Clinton administration negotiated a total of about 300 trade agreements with other countries. Clinton’s last treasury secretary, Lawrence Summers, stated that the lowered tariffs that resulted from Clinton's trade policies, which reduced prices to consumers and kept inflation low, were technically “the largest tax cut in the history of the world.”

Clinton assumed office shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War, but nevertheless was forced to confront numerous international conflicts. Shortly after taking office, Clinton had to decide whether the United States, as a world superpower, should play a role in the conflicts and violence occurring in Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Haiti. While these areas were embroiled in conflict and chaos, the interests of the United States were unclear.

Initially, Clinton was reluctant to become involved militarily, a move which would risk American lives in regions bitterly frayed by ethnic and religious discord. However, Clinton came to believe that the United States had a stake in the protection of human rights and the promotion of the political and economic stability of remote countries. As Commander in Chief, Clinton ordered armed forces to these regions to end fighting, maintain peace, and protect innocent civilians, and few American lives were lost in military action. Clinton also spent much of his foreign policy effort on trying to end the conflicts in Northern Ireland and the Middle East (Specifically Israel/Palestine).

Just weeks before Clinton took office, President George H. W. Bush had deployed American soldiers to Somalia, a coastal nation on the Horn of Africa, where people were suffering and dying from starvation and civil war. The soldiers were sent to guard food and other relief supplies from being stolen by warring factions. Unfortunately, it did not work. After soldiers faced fire from armed clans and 18 soldiers were killed in 1993, the mission quickly lost popularity with the American people. Fearing anarchy resulting in the starvation of Somalia’s civilians and to help US Forces defend themselves, Clinton increased troop presence in the country. Demands for withdrawal, however, grew louder and Clinton ordered troops out of the county in March 1994. This left Somalia in a state of anarchy, with warlords battling for control, even 10 years later.

In April 1994, a civil war erupted in Rwanda between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. Over the next few months, an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Rwandans, mainly Tutsi, were massacred. A few weeks after the war began, millions had fled the country for safety, spawning the growth of refugee camps in neighboring countries. As thousands more died of disease and starvation in these refugee camps, Clinton ordered airdrops of food and supplies for refugees. In July, he sent 200 non-combatant troops to the Rwanda capital of Kigali to manage the airport and distribution of relief supplies. These troops were subsequently withdrawn by October 1994. Clinton and the United Nations faced criticism for a weak response to the massacre. When Clinton traveled to Africa in 1998, he apologized for the international community’s failure to respond to the massacres.

In August 1998 terrorists bombed the United States embassies in the capitals of two East African countries, Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. About 250 people were killed, and more than 5,500 were injured. After intelligence linked the bombings to Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi Arabian living in Afghanistan who was suspected of terrorist activity, Clinton ordered missile attacks on sites in Afghanistan and Sudan in retaliation for the bombings at the U.S. embassies and to deter future terrorist attacks. The Clinton administration maintained that the sites–a chemical factory at Khartoum (the capital of Sudan) and several alleged terrorist camps in Afghanistan–were involved in terrorist activities.

Much of the focus of Clinton's foreign policy during his first term was the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (often referred to simply as Bosnia), a nation in southeastern Europe that declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1992. This declaration was the catalyst of a war between Bosnian Serbs, who wanted Bosnia to remain in the Yugoslav federation, and Bosnian Muslims and Croats. The Bosnian Serbs, who were supported by Serbia, were better equipped than the Muslims and the Croats and controlled much of the countryside. They besieged cities, including the capital of Sarajevo, causing widespread suffering. Clinton proposed bombing Serb supply lines and lifting an embargo that prevented the shipment of military arms to the former Yugoslavia but European nations were opposed to such a move. In 1994 Clinton opposed an effort by Republicans in Congress to lift the arms embargo, as it were, because the U.S. allies in Western Europe were still resistant to that policy.

Clinton contiued to pressure Western European countries throughout 1994 to take strong measures against the Serbs. But in November, as the Serbs seemed on the verge of defeating the Muslims and Croats in several strongholds, Clinton changed course and called for conciliation with the Serbs. In November 1995 Clinton hosted peace talks between the warring parties in Dayton, Ohio. The parties reached a peace agreement known as the Dayton Accords, leaving Bosnia as a single state made up of two separate entities with a central government.

In the spring of 1998, ethnic tension in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY)–the state formed from the former Yugoslav republics of Serbia and Montenegro–heightened when Serb forces moved into the southern province of Kosovo. More than 90 percent of the citizens of Kosovo were Muslim and ethnic Albanians, many of whom wanted independence from the FRY. The Serbs, however, had considered the region sacred territory. Serb forces were mobilized into the province to quail Albanian rebels, but accounts of Serb atrocities, ethnic cleansing, mass graves, and the murder of innocent civilians sent hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing to neighboring countries. However many of these accounts have been questioned, some found to be exaggerated or even fabricated. Clinton's intial suggestion of a death toll of hundreds of thousands Albanians, has been lowered to 2000 dead on both sides by independent research and the ICTY.

After attempting a peace settlement, Clinton, who strongly supported the Albanians, threatened the Serbs with possible military strikes. In March, military forces from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), headed by the United States, began launching missiles and bombs on military installations in Kosovo and Serbia. This action was not approved by the U.N. Security Council, and strongly opposed by Russia and China. NATO air strikes devastated Serbia, and many key targets were destroyed beyond repair. It was the first time in NATO’s history that its forces had attacked a European country, and the first time in which air power alone won a battle. In June 1999 NATO and FRY military leaders approved an international peace plan for Kosovo, and the attacks were suspended after a Serb surrender.

A September 1991 military coup, led by Lieutenant General Raoul Cédras, had ousted the country’s elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Aristide escaped to the United States. In 1993 thousands of Haitians tried to flee to the United States as well, but more than half were sent back to Haiti by the United States Coast Guard. Although Clinton had criticized former president George Bush for returning Haitian refugees to their country, he continued part of Bush’s policy because he feared that accepting refugees might encourage many more to flee to the United States and slow the formation of a democratic government in the country.

In 1994 Clinton publicly demanded that the Haitian government step aside and restore democratic rule. Congress was united in opposition to American intervention. However, Clinton deployed a large military force to the country in September 1994. Just before the troops reached Haiti, Clinton sent a delegation led by former President Jimmy Carter to urge Cédras to step down and leave the country. Cédras agreed and surrendered the government to Aristide. Cédras and his top lieutenants left the country in October, and just days later, American forces escorted Aristide into the capital. The democratic government was restored without a military fight.

Clinton was also deeply involved in the Middle East to negotiate peace agreements between Arabs, including the Palestinians and Israelis. Secret negotiations mediated by Clinton between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat led to a historic declaration of peace in September 1993, called the Oslo Accords. Clinton personally arranged for the peace accord to be signed at the White House on September 13, 1993. The agreement allowed a limited Palestinian self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. In July 1994 Clinton helped coordinate a historic compromise between longtime enemies Israel and Jordan to end their state of war. With this agreement between Jordan’s King Hussein and Israel’s Rabin, Jordan became only the second Arab state (after Egypt) to normalize relations with Israel.

The 1993 and 1995 peace agreements between Israel and Palestine, however, did not end the conflict in the Middle East. As the peace process came to a stall, Clinton invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat to peace talks on the Wye River in October 1998. The two leaders signed yet another agreement, known as the Wye River Memorandum, which called for Israel to transfer more territory in the West Bank to the Palestinians. In return, the Palestinians agreed to take steps to curb terrorism. They also agreed to a timetable to negotiate a final resolution of the Palestinian fight for an independent state.

After an abrupt outbreak of violence sparked by the agreement, however, Netanyahu refused to cede any West Bank territory and placed new demands upon Palestine. This move led to a backlash against Netanyahu’s government in Israel. As a result, in May 1999 Israelis elected Ehud Barak, the leader of a political coalition that favored resuming the peace process, to replace Netanyahu as prime minister. Clinton continued to work passionately on negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Throughout his last year in office, Clinton came close to arranging a final peace settlement but failed, according to Clinton, as a result of Arafat’s reluctance.

Clinton was also confronted with problems in Iraq. In 1991, three years before Clinton became president, the United States participated in the Persian Gulf War to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. In 1991 the warring parties signed a cease-fire agreement requiring Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and allow inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) to monitor the country’s adherence to the agreement.

The UNSCOM team faced resistance from Iraq, which blocked inspections and hid deadly germ agents and warheads. Clinton threatened military action several times when Iraqi president Saddam Hussein attempted to stall the UNSCOM inspections. In December 1998 Clinton ordered four days of concentrated air attacks against military installations in Iraq. After the bombing, Hussein blocked any further UN inspections. For several months afterward, U.S. air assaults continued to target defense installations in Iraq, in response to what the Clinton administration claimed were “provocations” by the Iraqi military, including antiaircraft fire and radar locks on American planes and missiles.

North Korea's feared aim to create nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles was a serious problem for the Clinton Administration. In 1994, North Korea, a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, refused to allow international inspectors to review two nuclear waste sites. The inspectors wanted to see if North Korea was in violation of the treaty since they were suspected of reprocessing spent fuel into plutonium, which could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. Despite diplomatic pressure and repeated warnings by Clinton, North Korea refused to allow the inspections and even raised the prospect of war with South Korea, an ally of the United States.

After private diplomacy by former president Jimmy Carter, the Clinton administration reached a breakthrough with North Korea in October 1994 when North Korea agreed to shut down the nuclear plants that could produce materials for weapons if the United States would help North Korea build plants that generated electricity with light-water nuclear reactors. These reactors would be more efficient and their waste could not easily be used for nuclear weaponry. The United States also agreed to supply fuel oil for electricity until the new plants were built, and North Korea agreed to allow inspection of the old waste sites when construction began on the new plants. Unfortunately, North Korea never stopped their nuclear weapons development, as was revealed in February of 2005, when North Korea announced to the world they had a nuclear bomb.

Clinton faced yet another foreign crisis in early 1995, when the value of the peso, the currency of Mexico, began to fall sharply and threatened the collapse of the Mexican economy. Clinton believed the collapse of Mexico’s economy would have a negative impact on the United States because of their close economic ties. He proposed a plan that would have helped Mexico ease out of financial crisis, but the new Republican-controlled Congress, fearing that voters would not favor aid money to Mexico, rejected the plan. In response, Clinton drafted a $20 billion loan package for Mexico to restore international confidence in the Mexican economy. The loan was approved and Mexico completed its loan payments to the United States in January 1997, three years ahead of schedule. However, issues such as drug smuggling and U.S. immigration policies continued to strain relations between the United States and Mexico during Clinton's terms in office.

After negotiations with representatives of the Cuban government, Clinton revealed in May 1995 a controversial policy reversing the decades-old policy of automatically granting asylum to Cuban refugees. Some 20,000 Cuban refugees detained at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba were to be admitted to the United States over a period of three months. In order to prevent a mass exodus of refugees to the United States, all future refugees would be returned to Cuba. Clinton also implemented the wet foot/dry foot policy for Cuban refugees. This policy meant that Cuban refugees caught at sea were returned to Cuba (wet foot), while Cuban refugees that made it to dry land (dry foot) were allowed to stay in the U.S. This changed the refugees tactics from slow rafts to speed boats.

Relations between the United States and Cuba deteriorated in February 1996 when Cuba shot down two American civilian planes. Cuba accused the planes of violating Cuban airspace. Clinton tightened sanctions against Cuba and suspended charter flights from the United States to Cuba, hoping this would cripple Cuba’s tourism industry.

In their response to the incident, the U.S. Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act in March 1996. Some parts of the bill strengthened an embargo against imports of Cuban products. Title III, however, made the bill controversial because it allowed American citizens whose property was seized during and after the 1959 Cuban Revolution to sue in American courts foreign companies that later invested in those properties. Title III sparked an immediate uproar from countries such as Mexico, Canada, and members of the European Union because they believed that they would be penalized for doing business with Cuba. In response, Clinton repeatedly suspended Title III of the legislation (the act gave the president the right to exercise this option every six months).

Clinton softened his Cuban policy in 1998 and 1999. In March 1998, at the urging of Pope John Paul II, Clinton lifted restrictions and allowed humanitarian charter flights to resume. He also took steps to increase educational, religious, and humanitarian contacts in Cuba. The U.S. government decided to allow Cuban citizens to receive more money from American friends and family members and to buy more American food and medicine.

Clinton also sought to end the conflict in Northern Ireland by arranging a peace agreement between the Catholic and Protestant factions. In 1998 former Senator George Mitchell–whom Clinton had appointed to assist in peace talks–brokered an accord that became known as the Good Friday Agreement. It called for the British Parliament to devolve legislative and executive authority of the province to a new Northern Ireland Assembly, whose Executive would include members of both religious communities. Years of stalemate have followed the agreement, mainly due to the refusal of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), a largely Catholic paramilitary group, to surrender its weapons for some years and after that the refusal of the Democratic Unionist Party to push the process forward. Mitchell returned to the region and arranged yet another blueprint for a further peace settlement that resulted in a December 1999 formation of the power-sharing government agreed the previous year, which was to be followed by steps toward the IRA’s disarmament. That agreement eventually faltered as well, although Clinton continued peace talks to prevent the peace process from collapsing completely. In 2005 the IRA surrendered most of its arms, although the deadlock continues over its criminal activity, which included what was at the time the largest bank robbery in UK history.

In 1996 Clinton signed the United States onto the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a landmark international agreement that prohibited all signatory nations from testing nuclear weapons. The following year, he sent the treaty to the Senate for ratification and they rejected it in October 1999. International reaction to the Senate’s action was uniformly negative, and the rejection was a political setback for Clinton, who had lobbied actively for its approval. Despite the rejection of the treaty, Clinton promised that the United States would continue to maintain a policy of not testing nuclear weapons, which had been in place since 1992.

Throughout the 1990s, the Congress refused to appropriate funds for the United States to pay its dues to the United Nations. By 1999 the United States owed the UN at least $1 billion in back dues. That same year Clinton reached a compromise with Republicans in Congress to submit more than $800 million in back dues. Republicans in the House of Representatives had insisted that UN debt repayments be accompanied by restrictions on U.S. funding for international groups that lobbied for abortion rights in foreign countries. Clinton had vetoed similar measures in the past, but he agreed to the restrictions when faced with the prospect that the United States would lose its vote in the UN General Assembly for nonpayment of dues.

In 1998, as a result of allegations that he had lied during grand jury testimony regarding his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a young female White House intern, Clinton was the second U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. The House held no serious impeachment hearings before the 1998 mid-term elections: Republican candidates rarely mentioned the issue of impeachment, but Democrats generally came out strongly against impeachment. In spite of the allegations against the President, his party picked up seats in the Congress. The Republican leadership called a lame duck session in December 1998 to hold impeachment proceedings.

Although the House Judiciary Committee hearings were perfunctory and ended in a straight party line vote, the debate on the Floor of the House was lively. The two charges which were passed with support from both parties in the House were for perjury and obstruction of justice. The perjury charge arose from Clinton's testimony about his relationship to Monica Lewinsky during a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by former Arkansas-state employee Paula Jones. The obstruction charge was based on his actions during the subsequent investigation of that testimony. Two other charges were voted down.

The Senate refused to convene to hold an impeachment trial before the end of the old term, so the trial was held over until the next Congress. Clinton was represented by Washington powerhouse law firm Williams & Connolly.

On February 12, the Senate concluded a 21-day trial with the vote on both counts falling short of the Constitutional requirement of a two-thirds majority to convict and remove an office holder. The final vote was generally along party lines, with all of the votes to convict being cast by Republicans. On the perjury charge 55 senators voted to acquit, including 10 Republicans, and 45 voted to convict; on the obstruction charge the Senate voted 50-50.[50] Clinton, like the only other president to be impeached, Andrew Johnson, served the remainder of his term.

Throughout his second term in office, President Clinton's policies of engagement and transparency with the People's Republic of China came under intense scrutiny by Congress and the media. It was learned that political appointees and fund-raisers of his (John Huang, Charlie Trie, James Riady, et al.) either had direct ties to Chinese intelligence, or were found to have been illegally donating money wired to them from Asian sources to Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign and legal defense trust. The issue was compounded when it was learned that a top Chinese arms merchant (Wang Jun) was allowed to attend a White House "coffee" meeting with Clinton and a number of his campaign donors in February 1996. These questions gained added urgency after Congress released the unanimous report known as the Cox Report in 1999, which documented that China had acquired intelligence about the United States' top military secrets. According to the report, MIRV, encryption, satellite, ICBM, and advanced nuclear weapon technology was stolen. Many members of Clinton's staff learned of the thefts as early as July 1995, but Clinton himself was not told until July 1997.

The Bill Clinton pardons controversy involved a grant of clemency to FALN bombers in 1999 and pardons to his brother Roger, tax-evading long-time fugitive billionaire Marc Rich and others in 2001 (see List of people pardoned by Bill Clinton).

Bill Clinton pardoned sixteen members of the FALN organization. These men belonged to a Puerto Rican freedom terrorist group, which was responsible for planting over 130 bombs in public places in the U.S. They killed six people and injured seventy. The FALN represented the single largest terrorism campaign in the U.S. “Yet Clinton’s clemency released individuals from prison after serving less than twenty years of terms running from fifty-five to ninety years.” President Clinton did not follow formal pardon procedures. He skipped the Department of Justice and attorneys. The FBI did not conduct any background checks, and the FALN did not execute a formal request. These facts, coupled with the Department of Justice’s 1996 denial of their clemency, make Clinton’s motives questionable. Clinton received bipartisan condemnation and public fury.

The House of Representatives later passed a resolution condemning Clinton’s pardon as an explicitly illegal action. Investigations were launched to find reasonable grounds for the clemency. However, “Congressional efforts to learn more about the FALN matter came to an end when Clinton invoked executive privilege to refuse subpoenas from congressional committee.” As the critics raged, the White House maintained that the pardon power is not subject to legislative deliberation. It is speculated that Clinton pardoned members of the FALN in exchange for funds for his wife's New York senatorial campaign in 2000.

On Clinton's last day in office, he pardoned over 200 convicted felons, including his brother Roger who had completed a prison sentence on drug charges and Dan Rostenkowski, the former Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee who had been convicted on corruption and mail fraud charges. Carlos Vignali (convicted of cocaine trafficking) and Almon Braswell (convicted of fraud), both of whom were clients of Clinton’s brother-in-law Hugh Rodham, were pardoned. Rodham later returned the $400,000 in legal fees he earned representing Vignali and Braswell. Clinton pardoned Fife Symington, a Republican governor from Arizona, as a remembrance of Symington's life-saving rescue of him when they were both teenagers. Another one of those pardoned was Marc Rich, a financier who had fled the United States decades before for tax evasion and other illegal activities including buying illegal oil from the Islamic Republic of Iran. Though his company put up a $200 million dollar bond on behalf of Rich and his partner, Rich fled the country before being indicted and was never tried or incarcerated. Many questioned the pardon because his wife, Denise Rich, was a generous donor to the Clinton campaigns and to his library. These actions quickly led to public hearings by Congress, headed by Congressman Dan Burton, into the legality of all of Clinton's presidential pardons. Federal prosecutor Mary Jo White was appointed to investigate as well. The investigation revealed that Denise Rich's last donation to the Clinton library came a year before Marc Rich's attorney's discussed asking her to lobby Clinton on his behalf. Burton, as part of his investigation, listened to taped recordings of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak pleading with Clinton to pardon Rich as well. Rich had provided millions of dollars in financing for Palestinian development projects, and the Israelis considered Rich a significant part of the peace process. Marc Rich was required to pay a $100 million dollar fine as part of the pardon and to waive all statutes of limitation in regards to any future civil charges. James Comey later replaced Mary Jo White, and he closed the investigation without filing any indictments.

In June 2000, in an effort to raise money for Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign, Clinton detailed a friend and fund raiser from Chicago, James Levin, to serve as his direct liaison with a controversial Hollywood internet entrepreneur, Peter F Paul. Paul had expressed an interest, through Democratic National Committee Chairman Ed Rendell, in becoming a major contributor to Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign in order to engage Bill Clinton's post White House "rainmaking" services for his public company, Stan Lee Media. Paul hosted and underwrote fundraising events at Spago Restaurant and a reception for 150 in Bel Air,on 2000-06-09, including Larry King, Melanie Griffith, Sean Young, Angelica Huston to generate support for Hillary Clinton's senate race. Paul was thereafter induced by Bill and Hillary Clinton, through Levin, to produce the largest fundraising event of Hillary Clinton's campaign, the Hollywood Gala Salute to President William Jefferson Clinton on 2000-08-12. Paul paid more than $1.2 million to produce the gala. Hillary Clinton's campaign filed four false FEC reports omitting both fundraising events from 2000-06-09 and misreporting Paul's contributions to the 2000-08-12 event. As a result, Hillary Clinton's finance director David Rosen was indicted and tried in May 2005, for election fraud, but was acquitted of all charges.

In 2003 Paul filed a civil fraud and coercion suit against Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, James Levin and Gary Smith, which was upheld by the California Supreme Court to proceed to trial (although the case against Hillary Clinton was dismissed), and a trial date was set for 2007-03-27.

In March 1998, White House aide Kathleen Willey alleged that Clinton had sexually assaulted her. In the end, the Robert Ray report deemed Willey an "unreliable witness" because of, "the differences between her deposition and Grand Jury statements, as well as her acknowledgement of false statements to the office of the Independent Counsel".

On February 24, 1999, Juanita Broaddrick claimed on television that Bill Clinton had raped her 21 years previously. However, Broaddrick herself had denied the charge in her own sworn affidavit just two months before. That affidavit remains the only statement under oath which Broaddrick has made about the incident.

Clinton was criticized by those on the right and the left for his practice of "co-opting" Republican policies, and "triangulating" himself. The triangulation practice caused the public to see Clinton on top of a triangle, putting himself above the Republicans and Democrats. The theory was that Clinton was, in his eyes, "doing the business of the American people", and not getting involved in partisan politics. He always stressed he was being bipartisan, but in the end many liberals concluded that he was simply a "Republican-lite".

Politically conservative policies that he supported and passed while he was President were NAFTA, GATT, welfare reform, more crimes eligible for the death penalty, the Defense of Marriage Act, and deregulating the telecommunications industry. He dropped a nominee, Lani Guinier, from a key civil rights post because of her Black Power ideological views. Environmental advocacy groups faulted Clinton in many areas, such as allowing the reversal of automobile fuel efficiencies and allowing more pesticide use in the United States. Progressives like Ralph Nader and union leaders complained that Clinton's enthusiastic support of free trade cost the Democrats the Congress in 1994. They argued he alienated working class voters and the party's traditional liberal base, and these voters figured that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats cared very much for them.

While Clinton's job approval rating varied over the course of his first term, ranging from a low of 36 percent in 1993 to a high of 64 percent in 1993 and 1994, his job approval rating consistently ranged from the high 50s to the high 60s in his second term. Clinton's approval rating reached its highest point at 73 percent approval in the aftermath of the impeachment proceedings in 1998 and 1999. A CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup poll conducted as he was leaving office, revealed deeply contradictory attitudes regarding Clinton. Although his approval rating at 68 percent was higher than that of any other departing president since polling began more than seventy years earlier, only 45 percent said they would miss him. While 55 percent thought he "would have something worthwhile to contribute and should remain active in public life", and 47 percent rated him as either outstanding or above average as a president, 68 percent thought he would be remembered for his "involvement in personal scandal" rather than his accomplishments as president, and 58 percent answered "No" to the question "Do you generally think Bill Clinton is honest and trustworthy?" 47 percent of the respondents identified themselves as being Clinton supporters.

In May 2006 a CNN poll comparing President Clinton's job performance with that of successor, President George W. Bush, a strong majority of respondents said President Clinton outperformed Bush on every single issue in question.

The poll of over a thousand random adult Americans was conducted May 5-7 by Opinion Research Corp. for CNN. Margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

When asked which man was more honest as president, 46 percent favored Clinton to 41 percent for Bush. Respondents favored Clinton by near 3-to-1 margins when asked who did a better job at handling the economy (63 percent Clinton, 26 percent Bush) and solving the problems of ordinary Americans (62 percent Clinton, 25 percent Bush).

On foreign affairs, the margin was 56 percent to 32 percent in Clinton's favor; on taxes, it was 51 percent to 35 percent for Clinton; and on handling natural disasters, it was 51 percent to 30 percent, also favoring Clinton.

As the first Baby Boomer president, Clinton was the first president in a half century not shaped by World War II. With his sound-bite-ready dialogue and pioneering use of pop culture in his campaigning, such as playing his saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show, Clinton was sometimes described as the "MTV president". Until his inauguration as president, he had earned substantially less money than his wife, and had the smallest net worth of any president in modern history, according to My Life, Clinton's autobiography. Clinton, a charismatic speaker, tended to draw huge crowds during public speeches throughout his terms in office. Clinton was also very popular among African-Americans and made improving race relations a major theme of his presidency.

The couple was a political partnership unknown since Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Many jokes implied that Hillary was the real President of the United States.

Social conservatives were put off by the impression of Clinton having been a "hippie" during the late 1960s, his coming-of-age era. In the 1960s, however, Clinton might not have been viewed as such by many of those in the hippie subculture. Clinton avoided the draft with a student deferment while studying abroad during the Vietnam War. Clinton's marijuana experimentation, excused by Clinton's statement that he "didn't inhale", further tarnished his image with some voters. In terms of policy Clinton was to the right of most recent Democratic candidates for the presidency on many issues - he supported the death penalty, curfews, uniforms in public schools, and other measures opposed by youth rights supporters, and he expanded the War on Drugs greatly while in office.

Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison in 1998 called Clinton "the first Black president," saying "Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas," and, despite his career accomplishments, comparing Clinton's scrutinized sex life to the stereotyping and double standards that blacks typically endure.

Like other former American presidents, Clinton has engaged in a career as a public speaker on a variety of issues (earning $875,000 in 2004, according to his financial disclosure statements). In his speaking engagements around the world, he continues to comment on aspects of contemporary politics. One notable theme is his advocacy of multilateral solutions to problems facing the world. Clinton's close relationship with the African American community has been highlighted in his post-Presidential career with the opening of his personal office in the Harlem section of New York City. He assisted his wife, Hillary Clinton, in her campaign for office as Senator from New York.

In February 2004, Clinton (along with Mikhail Gorbachev and Sophia Loren) won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for narrating the Russian National Orchestra's album Peter and the Wolf/Wolf Tracks. Clinton won a second Grammy in February 2005, Best Spoken Word Album for My Life.

Clinton's autobiography, My Life, was released in June 2004.

On 2004-07-26, Clinton spoke for the fifth consecutive time to the Democratic National Convention, using the opportunity to praise candidate John Kerry. Many Democrats believed that Clinton's speech was one of the best in Convention history. In it, he criticized President George W. Bush's depiction of Kerry, saying that "strength and wisdom are not opposing values."

On 2004-09-02, Clinton had an episode of angina and was evaluated at Northern Westchester Hospital. It was determined that he had not suffered a coronary infarction, and he was sent home, returning the following day for angiography, which disclosed multiple vessel coronary artery disease. He was transferred to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, where he underwent a successful quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery on 2004-09-06. The medical team claimed that, had he not had surgery, he would likely have suffered a massive heart attack within a few months. On 2005-03-10, he underwent a follow-up surgery to remove scar tissue and fluid from his left chest cavity, a result of his open-heart surgery.

He dedicated his presidential library, which is the largest in the nation, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, in Little Rock, Arkansas on 2004-11-18. Under rainy skies, Clinton received words of praise from former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, as well as from the current president, George W. Bush. He was also treated to a musical rendition from Bono and The Edge from U2, who expressed their gratitude at Clinton's efforts to resolve the Northern Ireland conflict during his presidency.

On November 22, 2004, New York Republican Governor George Pataki named Clinton and the other living former presidents (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush) as honorary members of the board rebuilding the World Trade Center.

In 2005, the University of Arkansas System opened the Clinton School of Public Service on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center.

On 2005-12-09, speaking at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal, Clinton publicly criticized the Bush Administration for its handling of emissions control.

While in Sydney to attend a Global Business Forum, Clinton signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of his presidential foundation with the Australian government to promote HIV/AIDS programs in the Asia-Pacific region.

On 2006-05-03, Clinton announced through the William J. Clinton Foundation an agreement by major soft drink manufacturers to stop selling sugared sodas and juice drinks in public primary and secondary schools.

On 2006-03-05, he received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Pace University, and is the first recipient of the Pace University President's Centennial Award. Following reception of the honorary degree, he spoke to the students, faculty, alumni and staff of Pace, officially kicking off the centennial anniversary of the university. Also in 2006 Clinton was awarded the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, to be aired on 2006-09-24, Clinton says that "But at least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now," responding to those who criticize him for the September 11th terrorist attacks, "They had eight months to try, they did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed." "I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him," he also stated. "Now if you want to criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this: after the Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban and launch a full-scale attack search for bin Laden. But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan -- which we got after 9/11," "While I was there, they refused to certify. So that meant I would have had to send a few hundred special forces in helicopters, refuel at night."

Clinton has set his sights on becoming U.N. secretary-general. A Clinton insider and a senior U.N. source have told United Press International the former president would like to be named leader of the world body when Kofi Annan's term ends early in 2006.

There had been reported signs of a friendship growing between Clinton and George H.W. Bush. After the official unveiling of his White House portrait in June 2004, the Asian Tsunami disaster, Hurricane Katrina, and the 2004 election, Clinton and Bush met, although the nature of the meetings did not appear to include a reconciliation of political opinions.

On 2005-01-03, President George W. Bush named Clinton and George H. W. Bush to lead a nationwide campaign to help the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. On 2005-02-01, he was selected by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to head the United Nations earthquake and tsunami relief and reconstruction effort. Five days later, he appeared with Bush on the Super Bowl XXXIX pre-game show on Fox in support of their bipartisan effort to raise money for relief of the disaster through the USA Freedom Corps, an action which Bush described as "transcending politics." Thirteen days later, they traveled to the affected areas to see the relief efforts.

On 2005-08-31, following the devastation of the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina, Clinton again teamed with George H. W. Bush to coordinate private relief donations, in a campaign similar to their earlier one in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami. Clinton was highly critical of the federal government's response to the hurricane, saying that the government "failed" the people affected, and that an investigation into the response was warranted.

* Following the death of Pope John Paul II on 2005-04-02 Clinton stirred up a mini-controversy saying the late pontiff, "may have had a mixed legacy…there will be debates about him. But on balance, he was a man of God, he was a consistent person, he did what he thought was right." Clinton sat with both President George W. Bush and former President George H.W. Bush as the first current or former American heads of state to attend a papal funeral.
* On 2006-05-13, Clinton was the commencement speaker along with George H. W. Bush at Tulane University in New Orleans. They both received honorary Doctorates of Laws from Tulane University. Clinton spoke to the students, faculty and alumni of Tulane and of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina that Tulane students know firsthand.
* Clinton is an amateur saxophonist (other recent musical presidents include pianists Harry Truman and Richard Nixon).
* Clinton was the only President to be married to a member of Congress: Hillary Rodham Clinton's service as a Senator officially began 18 days before his second term ended.
* Centraal Beheer, a Dutch insurance company famous for its humorous commercials, once had a TV commercial involving Clinton and a voodoo doll. This commercial was taken down after a few weeks at the request of the White House.
* In November of 1997 President Clinton made history by being the first sitting President to speak to a gay rights organization. He gave a speech at a formal dinner hosted by the Human Rights Campaign.
* The Clinton thumb gesture was popularized by Clinton.
* Clinton's campaign song during his first Presidential campaign was "Don't Stop" [Thinking About Tomorrow] by Fleetwood Mac. He even managed to persuade the then-defunct group to perform for his inaugural ball in 1993.
* Clinton's campaign theme and song during his second Presidential campaign was "Building the Bridge" by the rock band REO Speedwagon. The phrase "Building the Bridge" was also used by Clinton in many of his speeches during the course of the campaign.
* Clinton is, to date, the only sitting U.S. President to have shaken hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The two leaders found themselves standing next to each other at a U.N. photo op in September 2000. As the 150 leaders in attendance were exiting for lunch, a chance bottle neck at the door put the two leaders side by side and the handshake took place. They shook hands and exchanged what was described as small talk for a couple of minutes. Richard Nixon shook Castro's hand when he was Vice-President, and Jimmy Carter has done so during his post-presidential years.
* The first presidential Webcast, held by President Bill Clinton on 1999-11-08 live from George Washington University, is currently the only bona fide Internet-age broadcast in a Presidential library. The two hour internet broadcast entitled Townhall with President Clinton, hosted by Al From of the Democratic Leadership Council and directed by Marc Scarpa, was billed as an "Online Town Hall Meeting" ushering in 'The New Politics of the Information Age'".
* Appeared in a commercial with preceding president George Herbert Walker Bush encouraging donations to the Red Cross and other charities after the 2004 Tsunami.
* Appeared in a commercial for Nickelodeon's Let's Just Play Get Healthy Challenge.
* During the 1998 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Clinton made a bet with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on the playoff series between the Washington Capitals and the Ottawa Senators where the loser of the series had to wear the opposing team's jersey, the Capitals won the series four games to one and Chrétien had to wear a Capitals jersey.
* His press conference speech concerning the discovery of fossilized bacteria in a Martian meteorite was controversially recontenxtualized and incorporated into Robert Zemeckis' film adaptation of Carl Sagan's novel Contact.
* In 2003, he became the only politician to be the highlight of an E! True Hollywood Story.
* U.S. Representative Charles B. Rangel caused controversy on February 13, 2005, by blasting Bill Clinton as a Redneck in response to Hillary Clinton's refusal to support his views on the Amadou Diallo case.
* In Europe, Bill Clinton remains immensely popular, especially in a large part of the Balkans and in Ireland. In Prishtina, Kosovo, an enormous 5 story picture of the former president was permanently engraved into the side of the tallest building in the province as a token of gratitude for Clinton's support during the crisis in Kosovo.
* Mr. Clinton currently drives a Mercury Mariner hybrid SUV that has been custom fitted with a refrigerator and extra leg room.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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