Bill Clinton was the 42nd Unites States President served for two consecutive terms. During his presidency from 1993 to 2001, he was publicly recognized for both controversies and improving the economy of the United States of America. Additionally, the rating of this former president varied a lot throughout the period when he was in office. For example, in his first term, he received between 40 and 50% approval rate, and while in the second term, his rating rose between 50 and 60%. Bill Clinton had both negative and positive characteristics in his leadership style. According to Denton and Holloway (26), the overall rating of Bill Clinton as the United States’ president finally stood at 66%. One of his good attributes, when he was at the helm of leadership, was that he created an open democratic space in the country’s politics in addition to reducing unemployment index by developing several avenues for new employment opportunities. On the other hand, the democratic space created by Bill Clinton was perceived by his critics as a loophole for penetration of terrorism emanating from the Middle East. This paper offers a succinct analysis of major elements of leadership that characterized the presidency of Bill Clinton and generally discussed both the positive and negative attributes of his administration.
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Cohen (913) underscores that Clinton’s administration had two faces in the sense that there were negative attributes of his regime and another side full of positive attributes. The negative aspects of his administration were characterized by scandals, doubts about his ability to lead the country as well as policies and bills that were thought would negatively impact the American public. Nonetheless, there were positive attributes of his presidency. For example, the country became more democratic and peaceful when he was at the helm of leadership. This was a major departure from military actions on other countries that used to be common during the reign of George W. Bush. Although it is not possible to paint the administration of Bill Clinton all good, it can be argued that it was a regime characterized by a break on anxieties, especially on military actions. The discussion below looks at some of the positive and negative attributes that were evident in Clinton’s administration
The economy of America has been growing steadily since the year 1992 (Berkin, Miller & Chemy, p.743). This high growth rate was mainly attributed to the fact that there was a rapid use of technology in major domains of the economy. The end results of these gains were a high employment index. According to Berkin, Miller, and Chemy (743), the rate of employment rose to 33% between 1994 and1998. There were increased investments in major areas of the economy, making people who did not have a job get employed. This is one of the strongest points of the administration of Clinton. There were surging stocks during his period, and this increased the wages and prosperity of American citizens. As a result, the rate of unemployment fell drastically, and so were the rates of inflation. The prosperities that were gotten from Clinton’s presidency could only be matched with that of 1989 before the country indulged itself in military actions against perceived enemies.
The United States of America is known to invest heavily in matters of security. While this is important in keeping high vigilance, one of the negative results has been associated with the improper balancing of national, state, and local budgets. This was different during the time of Clinton, whereby budgeting was evenly spread across all sectors of the economy. According to Berkin, Miller, and Chemy (745), the year 1997 saw the budget get well balanced for the first time for a record of 27 years. Well, balanced budgets are good for putting the economy on a winning trend. This is because all sectors of production are utilized by investing enough money on them. Even though there are some sectors that can never be ignored, for example, national and boundary security, investing too much on them means some others will not get enough. During Clinton’s time, there was slow but steady growth of the economy due to the proper balancing of the national budgets.
Fiscal disciplines are important in the growth of an economy. Hayden (122) vividly describes the administration of Bill Clinton as having fiscal discipline. When Clinton became the president in 1993, his party and himself declared to restore fiscal discipline. For example, between the years 1981 and 1992, the debt that was held by people rose by four times. However, when Clinton took over power and promised to restore fiscal policies, this debt subsidized. 1992 had the national debt rising to a record $290 billion and was projected to go to $455 billion by 2000. However, Clinton’s policies made a significant improvement in fiscal disciplines. For example, he made sure that there was even a surplus of $237 billion in 2000. This was a good sign for a country that was known to be always on the borrowing trends either from outside or from the public. The government spending subsidized, and so were the payments on these debts reduced significantly. The benefits of such policies were evident, especially on revamping of the country’s economy.
The major focus of Clinton and his administration was to expand the economy as much as possible. As indicated by Haydon (127), Clinton came up with globalization policies that benefitted both local and international trade in the country. For this reason, Clinton won a number of accolades. For example, in 1993, he won the ratification of the North America free trade agreement. The opening of trade opportunities had a direct impact on employment. For example, in 1992, the unemployment level was at a record high of 7.5%. However, by use of stringent measures to manage this, the levels went down significantly, confirming the good attributes of his policies. These trade opportunities that were opened, especially in unlikely markets such as China had drastic effects. For example, the employment levels rose, and the level of poverty was reduced significantly. The eight years at the helm for Clinton have made him be in the limelight till nowadays.
The American public still recalls the scandals and controversies that were evident in Clinton’s administration much more than the positive attributes during his reign as the president. According to Davis (150), controversies were quite evident during the era of Bill Clinton. Due to these numerous scandals and controversies during his time, they will probably continue to characterize the eight years for many years to come. These scandals involved almost everybody in his cabinet and family. His period of administration set records. For example, he was to become the second president in history of America to be accused of rape. He established fund for legal defense and had illegal campaign money/contributions. Witnesses in crucial cases died suddenly and mysteriously. Such records are not good for a president who was elected on the platform of bringing in democracy and building of the economy.
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The democratic space that was provided by President Clinton meant that the military actions would be reduced to the minimal level. Despite various terrorism threats, there was little that could be said was done during the reign of President Clinton. According to Warshaw (36) there was a lot to indicate that terrorism was alive and there were threats to America. Yet, the huge investment on security especially on military was slashed for the sake of balancing the budgetary allocations. In his time as president of United States of America, Clinton had to cancel trips to Philippines and Pakistan due to possible assassination and terrorism attacks. Little was done other than bombing places where it was believed Bin Laden stayed. This is when there were bombing of American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. In this, therefore, his administration failed to seal loopholes of terrorism.
Lewinsky scandal remains as one of the scandals that hit the Clinton administration. It was a sex scandal that came in 1998 and involved president Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky; a White House intern. This scandal led to impeachment of the president in 1998 by the House of Representatives. It also led to acquittal on the impeachment charges in perjury as well as obstruction of justice. This scandal was criticized from all corners of the world and remains a famous situation up to the present day. It was a dark moment for the Clinton administration and the scandal has come to be given titles such as Tailgate, Zippergate, Monicagate, Sexgate and Lewinskygate.
The discussion on Clinton’s administration summarizes the contributions that his presidency brought in the United States of America. The positive aspects of his leadership seem to bear greater impacts on his legacy than the negative elements. However, it can never be ruled that some of the positive attributes are still significant in the country today. For example, the 2001 September 11 terrorist attack in the United States is still fresh in the minds of American citizens and the world at large. This shows that there was a lapse of security that was created by Clinton’s administration. On this and other negative attributes, Clinton’s administration had negative impacts. However, this president is credited for bringing in important economic reforms that made the country on winning paths. For example, by putting in stringent fiscal measures, the country revamped to winning ways. The country had acquired huge debts that were promising bad future for the country. He brought in some measures that ensured the country’s economy was revamped. On this and many other economic policies, Clinton’s administration remains very important.
The legacy of a leader is built by both positive and negative attributes. When discussing a former president of a country, the positive and negative attributes are the significances that can be remembered. Bill Clinton led United States of America from 1993 to 2001. During these eight years, the economy was revamped, there was proper balancing of budgets, the poverty levels reduced significantly and employment levels went up among other good attributes. However, security of the country was compromised and there were too many scandals and controversies. While people may not forget scandals and controversies easily, building of a strong economy has long lasting impacts. For this therefore, the Clinton’s administration was a good thing for America as a country. Additionally, it is worth noting the two terms at the helm of presidency by Bill Clinton witnessed a lot of diplomatic engagements with foreign nations as a strategy of building bilateral and multilateral ties across the globe.
Berkin Carol, Miller, Christopher & Chemy, Robert. Making America: A history of the United States: Since 1865. Belmont: CengageBrain Learning, 2006. Print.
Cohen, Jeffrey. “The Polls: Presidential greatness as seen in the mass public: An Extension and Application of the Simonton Model.” Presidential studies quarterly, 33(2003), 913-924. Print.
Davis, Lanny. Scandal: How “Gotcha” Politics is destroying America. New York: Palgrave Macmillan publishers, 2007. Print.
Denton, Robert & Holloway, Rachel. Images, scandal, and communication strategies of the Clinton presidency. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003. Print.
Hayden, Joseph. Covering Clinton: the president and the press in the 1990s. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. Print.
Warshaw, Shirley. The Clinton years. New York: Facts On File, Inc. 2004. Print.