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Bill Clinton and His Activities as President

Introduction

Bill Clinton achieved great fame and recognition by becoming the President of the leading nation in the world. While his 8 years tenure witnessed several impressive accomplishments that not only brought about considerable improvements within the country, but also boosted its international image, he was also responsible for spawning several controversies which ultimately led to his downfall from the office of the most powerful man in the world.

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Early Life

The 42nd American President was born on 19 August 1946 in Hope {Arkansas, United States} to William Jefferson Blythe II and Virginia Cassidy Blythe. He was named William Jefferson Blythe III in memory of his father who died in a vehicle mishap 3 months before he was born. William {Bill} lived with his maternal grandparents Eldridge and Edith Cassidy in Hope for 4 years while his widowed mother relocated to New Orleans {Louisiana} to begin a career in nursing. Bill learned several distinctive principles and beliefs from his grandparents, especially that all people are equal. The old Cassidy couple practiced what they preached by permitting individuals of all races to buy items on credit from their grocery store in defiance of the existing segregation regulations. Virginia Blythe returned to Hope in 1950 with nursing qualifications. She married Roger Clinton that same year. Bill relocated to Hot Springs {Arkansas} with his parents in 1953. His stepfather secured employment as a service manager in his brother’s car company while his mother found a job as a nurse anesthetist (The White House).

Education

While studying in high school, the year 1960 proved to be a vital milestone in Bill’s life because of two events. As a member of a youth organization called Boys Nation, Bill {who by then had changed his surname to that of his stepfather} visited Washington D.C. where his group was invited to meet U.S President John F. Kennedy. Bill Clinton was among the first to shake the hand of the American President in the awe-inspiring Rose Garden chamber which proved to be the most significant and exciting event of his youth, spawning in him the ambition to become President one day so as to bring about a significant change in the lives of the American people. The second event involved Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As Bill viewed the great African American leader’s televised I Have a Dream speech, he was so greatly affected by the words that he committed them to memory (The White House).

The hugely successful track records of President Kennedy and Dr. King encouraged Bill to put in hard work in his academic activities in school. His efforts paid off when he was awarded several academic scholarships which, in addition to loans from the government, enable him to enroll in Georgetown University in Washington D.C. As Bill studied to obtain his Bachelor of Science degree in International Affairs, he also took up an intern’s job in Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright’s office. It was here that Bill got a valuable insight into the role of a politician. When Bill completed his college course in 1968, he was awarded a Rhodes scholarship to pursue his academic career at Oxford University, England. He gained valuable knowledge about governmental affairs during his tenure at Oxford. Bill joined Yale University’s law school upon his return to his country. He continued putting in hard work in his studies of law until his graduation in 1973 (The White House).

Career as Governor of Arkansas

Bill Clinton began his working career by teaching law at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. His latent political ambitions made him run for Congress in 1974 against John Paul Hammerschmidt, the Republican incumbent in Arkansas. Despite losing the race, Bill added to his mounting knowledge of politics. His friend Hilary Rodham, who assisted him in his political campaign, also took up a teaching job at the University of Arkansas. The couple got married on 11 October 1975 (The White House).

Bill’s political career went into overdrive soon after his marriage. He first got elected as Attorney General of Arkansas in 1976 before going on to be chosen as Governor of Arkansas in 1978. Bill used his position to not only bring about significant improvements in Arkansas’ educational process but also initiated the construction of better roadways. The year 1980 brought good as well as bad news. The former came in the shape of Chelsea Victor who was born on 27 February to Bill and Hillary. The bad news involved Bill losing the race to become Arkansas Governor for the second term to Republican candidate Frank White. Unfazed by the loss, Bill responded by campaigning hard during the next gubernatorial election (The White House), especially focusing {in response to his wife’s strong suggestion} on educational reform as the key for the state’s economic revival (Spring 68). The people of Arkansas reacted favorably to his renewed promises of addressing their requirements by re-electing him in November 1982 (The White House).

Having already made significant improvements in Arkansas’ educational system during his first term as Governor, Bill doubled his efforts during the second term. In keeping with his campaign promise to revitalize the educational sector {which earned him the name Educational Governor} (Spring 68), Bill brought about 3 important improvements. Firstly, he enhanced the salaries of teachers to increase their interest and efforts. Secondly, he introduced a scheme to evaluate children upon completion of their third, sixth and eighth grades. Thirdly, he motivated students’ parents to join in and assist in the education of their siblings. These improvements succeeded in establishing new educational levels whereby each child in the state, irrespective of income or community, got a high standard education (The White House).

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Bill, who was also Chairman of the National Governors’ Association between August 1986 and August 1987, used his position to spearhead the governors’ attempts to bring about improvements in the educational reforms as well as welfare systems of all the states in the country. The success of his achievements primarily as Governor of Arkansas and secondarily as Chairman of the National Governors’ Association convinced Bill that the country was in need of a supreme leader who possessed the ability to think about the future with imagination, wisdom and strategy (The White House). This conviction was instrumental in making him run for the prestigious post of President of the United States.

Clinton becomes American President

Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton secured the nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in 1991. He opted for Tennessee Senator Al Gore as his vice-presidential partner. The campaign of Bill and Al was founded on 3 broad perspectives – retaining the American Dream, re-establishing the aspirations of ordinary Americans and recovering the future for their children. The duo’s campaign message was well received by the American people, who responded by electing Bill Clinton as the nation’s 42nd President on 3 November 1992, with Al Gore as its 45th Vice-President (The White House).

The partnership of Bill Clinton and Al Gore was so successful that they ran for re-election in 1996. Their campaign this time was based on 3 aspects – assurance of an enduring leadership as the country entered into the 21st century, tackling the demanding situations that faced the nation and safeguarding American values. Their message was again received favorably by the American people who reacted by re-electing Bill Clinton as President for another term on 5 November 1996 (The White House).

Achievements as President of the United States

The 8 years during which Bill Clinton served as President of the country reflected the famous Clinton Third Way concepts which gained fans all over the world and still serves to inspire creative leaders in several countries (Clinton Presidential Center). By implementing the Clinton Third Way concepts, Bill made the following achievements.

Reformation of Government methods of conducting its work

The Clinton Administration passed the Work Investment Act which changed national employment and training schemes while also forming a national system of One-Stop Career Centers. Secondly, the Administration reduced the tax burden on middle-income families to its lowest level since 1972. Thirdly, Clinton passed the National Voter Registration Act that made voting so simple and trouble-free that it spawned the registration of 28 million new voters. Fourthly, despite enhanced investment in sectors like education and technology, the Administration’s federal expenditure growth rate was the lowest since the 1950s Eisenhower years. Fifthly, federal rules regarding business were reformed whereby around 16,000 pages of rules were discarded and 31,000 pages were re-written into simple and easy-to-follow language. Lastly, the Administration’s Reinventing Government Initiative spawned a savings of nearly $ 136 billion (Clinton Presidential Center).

Improvements in the crime and drug sectors

With domestic violence as its target, the Clinton Administration passed the historic Violence Against Women Act {VAWA} in 1994, granting more than $ 1.6 billion to the criminal justice network to improve the handling of domestic violence incidents. Secondly, two laws were enacted {Megan’s Law and the Jacob Witterling Crimes against Children & Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act} that needed states to establish sex offender registration networks. Thirdly, the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act was passed in 1994 to tackle hate crimes. Fourthly, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign was started in 1997 to educate young people about the harm caused by drugs which brought about a reduction in drug use {as compared to the high levels of 1970} and a 48% drop in drug-connected killings. Fifthly, a persistent crackdown on gun criminals saw total national gun prosecutions rise by 22% and gun defendant prison sentences go up by 20%. Sixthly, the Brady Law enacted in 1994 served to stop over 1 million criminals from buying guns, while the National Instant Criminal Background Check system {NICS} introduced in 1994 made available fuller sets of records to law officers to scrutinize likely gun buyers {it resulted in preventing 300,000 unlawful gun sales}. Lastly, more than $ 1 billion was granted to hire 110,000 policemen, which brought about the longest reduction in crime rate {especially murder and gun violence which fell by 27% and 46% respectively} (Clinton Presidential Center).

Revitalization of the education sector

Publicly announcing its broad Improving Education plan (Spring 66), the Clinton Administration made greater availability of technology possible. Its investment in educational technology rose from $ 23 million in 1997 to $ 872 million in 2001. It also set up the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund and Erate Program to link all schools to the Internet, provide more computers to schools and imparting technology training to teachers. It resulted in linking 98% of public schools to the Internet (Clinton Presidential Center). The Progressive Policy Institute was also established to bring about the reinvention of public schools to suit the Information Age (Spring 66). Secondly, the entire school system was revitalized as more schools were constructed, failing schools were turned around, more highly-educated teachers were made available and safe after-school opportunities for 1.3 million children were made available annually (Clinton Presidential Center). Thirdly, Clinton signed the famous No Child Left behind Act which promised education to each American child (Spring 64). Lastly, college students were benefited from the Hope Scholarships, Lifetime Leaving Tax Credits and GEAR UP College Opportunity Program (Clinton Presidential Center).

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Boosting of the economic sector

The American economy was at its strongest for more than a generation during the Clinton years, elevating it from record deficits to record surplus. Family income attained record high levels while child poverty dropped by 28.6% to just 16.2%. Secondly, employment was boosted in the form of 23 million new jobs, while real wage growth was the fastest and longest in more than 30 years. Lastly, reformation to the 1997 Community Reinvestment Act spawned a massive $ 800 billion in home mortgage and business loans from banks (Clinton Presidential Center).

Improvements in the environmental sector

There was a landmark investment in biomedical research. Funds to NIH agencies rose from $ 10.3 billion in 1993 to $ 20.3 billion in 2001, enabling them to sustain the topmost levels of research on almost all kinds of disease and health conditions. Secondly, private land measuring 20 million acres and 43 million acres were established for habitat conservation and the national landscape respectively. Thirdly, more than 50 initiatives on energy efficiency and renewable energy were started, while 22 national monuments were set up or expanded. Lastly, the strictest air pollution standards in American history were enforced, cleaning up work at toxic waste grounds was enhanced and new strategies to prevent global warming were devised (Clinton Presidential Center).

Reformation of the health care sector

Regulations were passed to greatly lower problematic, duplicative and unnecessary billing while creating a more united and reasonable electronic claims network for health care providers and insurance companies that resulted in a $ 30 billion savings. Secondly, landmark comprehensive reforms were passed in 3 areas – the FDA {to speed up the scrutiny of approval of new drugs}, health insurance and Medicare. Lastly, a grant of half a trillion dollars was allocated towards the improvement of federal health programs (Clinton Presidential Center).

Foreign policy achievements

Bill Clinton was instrumental in gaining China admission into the WTO thereby bringing that country under the influence of the rules-based global network and securing its commitment to stop supporting Iran’s nuclear program. Clinton also exerted significant efforts into peace initiatives in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo (Clinton Presidential Center).

Safeguarding religious freedom

The Clinton Administration enacted the Religious Liberty & Charitable Donation Protection Act in 1998 to safeguard churches from bankruptcy trustees. Other enactments by the Administration include the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 and the Religious Land Use & Institutional Persons Act of 2000 (Clinton Presidential Center).

Impeachment

Bill Clinton is widely regarded as America’s most investigated President (The History Place). His presidency was marred by several controversies which ultimately caused his downfall and impeachment.

The first controversy, called Travelgate, took place in May 1993. It began when 7 long-serving White House travel office workers were suddenly sacked and substituted for Clinton’s Arkansas-based friends. The sacked workers were examined by the FBI which spawned unproved assertions that it was done at the behest of the White House just to support the sackings (The History Place).

The Whitewater controversy followed in December 1993. It was caused when the FBI was prohibited from entering the White House office of Vince Foster, Deputy White House Counsel and close friend of Clinton {who committed suicide 5 months earlier}, while the President’s aides had entered that office immediately after Foster’s demise. It led to allegations that documents associated with Whitewater Development Corporation {Foster had filed its delinquent corporate returns over 3 years in June that year} were possibly removed from the office (The History Place).

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The third controversy involved Paula C. Jones who declared before a Washington meeting of conservative activists in February 1994 that Bill Clinton, while serving as Arkansas Governor in 1991, sexually harassed her by asking her to perform oral sex on him. When her charges only provoked denials by the White House on behalf of Clinton, Paula filed a civil lawsuit against the President, demanding $ 700,000 in damages plus a personal apology (The History Place).

The last controversy involved White House intern Monica Lewinsky with whom Bill started an illegal sexual affair even while the Paula Jones controversy was still simmering. The couple indulged in 10 sexual acts in the White House Oval office suite. Lewinsky disclosed details of the affair to her friend Linda Tripp who secretly tape-recorded the telephonic disclosures (The History Place).

Whitewater counsel Kenneth Starr, who started an investigation into Bill’s role in the Whitewater affair in 1994, managed to get hold of Tripp’s tape recordings. He compiled a 453-page report on Bill’s role in the Whitewater and Lewinsky controversies which was submitted to the U.S House of Representatives in September 1998. It highlighted 11 impeachable crimes presumably committed by Bill. After 3 months of deliberations and hearings, the House of Representatives impeached President Bill Clinton in December 1998. Bill went on to serve the balance of his second term before stepping down as President on 20 January 2001 (The History Place).

Post-presidency activities

Bill Clinton did not retreat into quiet retirement but embarked on various projects so vigorously that he still continues to be one of the most identifiable statesmen in the world today. He briefly participated in American politics by supporting Hillary’s recent political campaign before she became the present U.S Secretary of State.

Having chosen global philanthropic projects as his area of concentration, Bill’s most high-profile venture has been the establishment of the William J. Clinton Foundation, which has a staff of 800 individuals stationed around the world. Its main project is the Clinton Global Initiative whose aim is to fight poverty and climate change {especially global warming} while fostering health projects {notably childhood obesity, HIV/AIDS and malaria} and education schemes all over the world. The Foundation was also responsible for building the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas (Keck & Silverleib).

Other Clinton global philanthropic projects include the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and the Bush-Clinton Tsunami Fund {both established with former U.S President George H. W. Bush} that spearheaded relief work in the wake of the disastrous Hurricane Katrina in the U.S in 1994 and the tsunami that struck many parts of the world in 2005 (Keck et al.).

Bill Clinton continues to grab world news headlines every now and then. His latest feat in this regard was his impromptu trip to North Korea this month to successfully negotiate the release of 2 jailed American newspapermen who he brought back to the U.S with him (Keck et al.).

References

“Impeachment: Bill Clinton.” The History Place. 2000.

“It All Began in a Place called Hope: President Bill Clinton.” The White House. (N.d). Web.

Keck, Kristi & Silverleib, Alan. “In Post-Presidency, Clinton Shows No Signs of Slowing Down.” Cable News Network (CNN). 2009.

“Record of Accomplishments.” Clinton Presidential Center. (N.d). Web.

Joel H. “Political Agendas for Education: From the Religious Right to the Green Party.” USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 2005.

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