Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Nickname: Bill, Slick Willy
Clinton had an up and down presidency to say the least. He started off focusing on corporate responsibility by promoting and signing the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guaranteed employees the right to take unpaid leave from work to care for a sick relative without losing their jobs. Then things got weird. Clinton decided that Heath Care reform was the most important thing to tackle and had his wife, Hilary Clinton, lead the reform effort. This became a huge disaster, as Republican's laid the smack down on Clinton's Heath Care ideas and the effort died. To make matters worse, a 1993 peacekeeping expedition to Somalia and a federal assault on a Waco, Texas, religious cult both ended in a fiasco. By late 1994, Clinton's popularity had plummeted, and the Democrats had lost control over Congress for the first time since the Truman administration.
It has been said that Bill Clinton possessed the sharpest political skills of his era. He outmaneuvered the new Republican-led Congress when they threatened to shut down the government unless he cut Medicaid and Medicare programs. When he refused, the Republicans made good on their threat, and found the public blaming them instead of Clinton for the impasse. Clinton had regained his momentum as he promoted increasing the minimum wage and providing student loans in exchange for community service. He also approved a major overhaul of the federal welfare system. In 1996, he became the first democrat since FDR to be reelected.
Clinton's turnaround didn't last long, as allegations soon surfaced that Clinton had an inappropriate relationship with a young White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton denied the allegations, and when more evidence turned up, the House began impeachment hearings against him. *NOTE*: Clinton could not have been impeached if he had just had the affair with Lewinsky. Many presidents had affairs before Clinton, and they will continue to do so in the future. The problem was that Clinton lied under oath, which is perjury, a impeachable offense. Clinton was eventually acquitted, but his reputation had been seriously damaged.
Clinton had many more bright spots in his administration, as evident by having the highest approval rating in history, even after the affair. Clinton presided over the signing of the first peace accord between Israel and Palestine. Clinton signed into law the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, which made it mandatory for a five day waiting period for handguns and established a national criminal background check system to be used by firearm dealers. Clinton's presidency also ushered in a time of economic stability and peace.
Clinton had flaws just as many other presidents did. He made the mistake of perjury, which sullied his presidency along with the affair. Clinton's attempt to reform health care turned into a disaster and had an basically uneventful first term. Surprisingly, with a Republican Congress, Clinton was able to get a lot done, and come out of the presidency with a high approval rating. Clinton helped social groups, raised minimum wage, and helped the economy be it's best since Reagan's early years. These things are often overlooked, and much focus is on his personal flaws.