President Bill Clinton of the USA

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Without remembering William Jefferson Clinton, also named William Jefferson Bly III, we can’t talk about US presidents. In 1992, he became the 42nd US head of state and served until 2001. Born and raised in Arkansas, he attended prestigious colleges, including Oxford University, Georgetown University, and Yale Law School, among others. While at Yale, he met and married his wife, Hillary Rodham. Clinton returned to his home state after graduation from Yale and was elected Arkansas Attorney General, serving in office from 1977 to 1979. (Greenstein, 2004). While in post As Governor of Arkansas, Clinton revamped the state’s education system and also served as a chairman of the National Governors Association.

In 1992, Clinton was elected president becoming the third youngest president with 46 years of age defeating his Republican opponent George H. W. Bush. His win brought to an end the republicans reign of twenty-four years (Kenney & Rice, 1988). The election gave Democrats an opportunity to have a full control of the United States’ Congress; the first time a single party influenced both the executive and legislative branches. A position they held last in the 96th congress during the tenure of president Jimmy Carter.

Clinton’s first term in office saw the enactment of a variety of legislation. Less than a month after his inauguration he passed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 which obligated large employers to give their employees unpaid maternity leave or a severe medical situation. This action had support from both parties and was familiar with the citizens (Simonton, 1993). Clinton upset domestic and international family planning programs that had been implemented by Reagan and Bush. He alleged that abortion was to be kept safe, legal, and rare a slogan that he used during his presidential campaign. President Clinton’s administration contributed to a fall in the rate of abortion to approximately 18.4 percent.

During his first address to the nation, Clinton expressed his bid to raise taxes on a quest to offset a budget deficit in 1993. He unveiled his plan in a national television during a joint session of Congress. The program aimed at covering and reducing the deficit and not on lowering taxes for the middle class which had been higher at the time of his campaign. Clinton signed the Compilation Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which passed Congress on Democrats vote. It reduced taxes for approximately 15 million middle-class families, availed tax cuts to 90 percent of small businesses, and raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2 percent of taxpayers (Nichols, 2012). Also, it directed that the budget be well-adjusted over some years through the implementation of spending fetters.

On November 30, 1993, Clinton brought into law the Brady Bill, which authorized federal background checks on individuals who acquire firearms in the United States. The law also implemented a five-day waiting period on purchases to give room for more inspections, until the NICS system was put in place in 1998. He also extended the Earned Income Tax Credit, a grant for low earners.

Clinton used his first year in office to consistently back endorsement of the The North American Free Trade Agreement treaty by the U.S. Senate. With support from his party, Clinton and most of his allies in the Democratic Leadership Committee strongly stood for free trade measures; though, there was opposition from within the party, from the anti-trade Republicans, supporters of Ross Perot and protectionist Democrats. Amidst all that, the bill went through with 234 votes against 200 opposed. After ratification by the Senate, the bill was signed by the President into law.

President Clinton signed the Omnibus Crime Bill into law in September 1994 causing massive alterations to U.S. crime and law enforcement legislation such as the extension of the death penalty to accommodate offenses punishable with a life sentence, like running a large-scale drug enterprise. In his re-election campaign, Clinton alluded that the crime bill elongated death penalty for offenders including murderers of federal law enforcement officers, drug kingpins, and almost 60 other categories of violent felons (Pfiffner, 2010). Additionally, there was an inclusion of a part of assault weapons ban that would last for a ten-year period.

Under his administration, Bill Clinton also flunked the first official White House website, called whitehouse.gov, on October 21, 1994. Other three versions preceded it paving the way for the final edition that was launched in 2000. The main idea for creating White House website was to enable web-based communication, a broader movement of the Clinton administration (Skowronek, 2011). According to Robert Longley, Clinton and Gore saw to it that almost all federal agencies, the military, and U.S. court system used the Internet, thus enabling more America’s citizens to access the government and its services. On July 17, 1996, Clinton gave an Executive Order 13011 – Federal Information Technology, instructing all federal agencies to fully employ information technology allowing the public access to the information of the organizations.

A Defence of Marriage Act which defined marriage for federal purposes as the legal union of one man and one woman was signed on September 21, 1996, permitting individual states to limit gay marriages in other countries. Clinton signed the Act to prevent constitutional amendment that aimed to ban gay marriage in U.S. a possibility he defined as being in the setting of a conservative Congress. Clinton was the first president to nominate gay persons for an office position in his administration and was acclaimed as being the first president to defend gay rights openly. Moreover, Clinton administration more than doubled federal funding for HIV/AIDS research, prevention, and treatment. Clinton signed hate crimes laws for gays and the private sector Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The backing of these issues and the politically unfamiliar nature of the gay rights crusade at the time were among the reasons for Clinton’s election and reelection by the Human Rights Movement (Skowronek, 2011). Clinton defended gay marriage in July 2009 and advised the Supreme Court to out rule DOMA in 2013. GLAAD then honored him for his efforts of the previous pro-gay stand and for reversing the DOMA.

After his re-election, Clinton initiated a new medical initiative that aimed at covering up to five million children in the states. His wife Hillary together with Orrin Hatch—a Republican and Ted Kennedy—a Democrat—succeeded in forming the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which was the most significant and health care reform in Clinton’s tenure. Hillary Clinton also presented to Congress the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and two years later she again managed to pass the Foster Care Independence Act. Clinton negotiated with the Republicans concerning the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 Congress, and in 1999 he converted the Financial Services Modernization Act also known as the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act into law. The signing of the Act revoked a section of the Glass–Steagall Act that had barred banks from providing a full array of investment, insurance services, and commercial banking since it became law in 1933.

Clinton was the first president to visit Vietnam in November 2000, several years after the war ended. He signed US-China Relations Act in October 2000 which permitted China normal trade relations The president stated that free trade would pave the way for China to embrace democratic reform. Under Clinton’s reign, U.S. witnessed a boom in the economy causing a surplus in the federal budget. Clinton’s economic policies gave the country a decade of prosperity such that more jobs were created, the unemployment rate dropped from 7.5 percent to approximately 4.0 percent. Home proprietorship was at its highest rate ever recorded (67.7 percent). Moreover, the budget deficit plummeted from $290 billion to a budget surplus of almost $128 billion. The poverty rate fell to 11.8 percent. Also, President Clinton cut expenditure by reforming the TANF program, customarily known as welfare. A Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act that was signed in 1996 required beneficiaries to be employed within the first two years. It only allowed them to enjoy the benefits for five years resulting in the number of TANF recipients reducing by two-thirds.

Compared with other presidents, Clinton was the first in history to increase the number of women and minority judges in the federal courts. For the eight years, he was in office, 11.6% of the court of appeals nominees and 17.4% of district court nominees were African Americans; 32.8% of the court of appeals nominees and 28.5% of the district court were women. Clinton selected the first black judges to the Fourth and the Seventh Circuit (Nichols, 2012).

Clinton’s presidency was not entirely without scandals. There was an allegation of financial indiscretions that took place in Little Rock; former associates of Clinton were found guilty of crimes. Rumours of sexual indecorum alleged against the president persisted leading to his impeachment. Clinton was removed from office by the House citing perjury and obstruction of justice in the Lewinsky scandal (Miller, 2014). The impeachment made him the second U.S. president to leave office before his term was over. The proceedings were built on allegations that the President had lied about his affair with 22-year-old White House employee, Monica Lewinsky. After the House received Starr Report with credible evidence it concluded that President Clinton Committed Acts that May Constitute Grounds for an Impeachment. The Senate later removed the charges Clinton on both charges after holding a twenty-one-day trial proceeding on February 12, 1999. The vote of 55 against 45 on the perjury charge and 50 against 50 on the obstruction of justice charge lacked the Constitutional two-thirds majority requirement to push for an impeachment.

Throughout Clinton’s Presidency, he received 40s-60s rating for his work. He passed several bills into laws that help propel the country and maintained friendly ties with other nations. For the first time in many years, U.S. economy was the best in the world operating on a budget of surplus. Though Bill had the excellent organizational skill, a vision for his country he was known for his little emotional intelligence.

References

Felzenberg, A. S. (2008). The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn’t): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game. New York: Basic Books.

Greenstein, F. I. (2004). The Qualities That Bear on Presidential Performance. Frontline: The Choice, 2004. Retrieved from:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/choice2004/leadership/greenstein.html

Greenstein, F. I. (2009). The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama. 3rd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Kenney, P. J. & Rice, T. W. (1988). The Contextual Determinants of Presidential Greatness. Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 161-169. Retrieved from:

http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~jcampbel/documents/KenneyRicePresSQ1988.pdf

Landy, M. & Milkis, S. M. (2000). Presidential Greatness. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.

Miller, A. D. (2014). The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Nichols, C. (2012). The Presidential Ranking Game: Critical Review and Some New Discoveries. Presidential Studies Quarterly Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 275-99. Retrieved from:

http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/204052.pdf

Pfiffner, J. P. (2010). The Modern Presidency. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage.

Simonton, D. K. (1993). Putting the Best Leaders in the White House: Personality, Policy, and Performance, Political Psychology, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 537-548. Retrieved from:

http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~jcampbel/documents/SimontonPolPsych1993.pdf

Skowronek, S. (2011). Presidential Leadership in Political Time: Reprise and Reappraisal. 2nd ed. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.

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