Those of us born in the early 90s didn’t have to major in Political Science or read the newspaper every day to know that former President Bill Clinton has a bevy of women surrounding his name.
Most would even be able to link the names Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones to Clinton’s namesake, maybe even before they link Hillary Clinton and Bill.
What the ‘Millennial’ Generation Knows About Clinton
It is well known that Clinton was tied to affairs with Gennifer Flowers in the early 90s, but these allegations didn’t keep him from being elected to office in November 1992.
A Washington Post Special Report published an interview with Bill and Hillary Clinton on Jan. 26, 1992, where Clinton famously skates around the questions, neither denying nor admitting an affair with Flowers.
Fast-forward six years. The 90s kids were starting school and learning about the Presidents, while President Clinton learned that fooling around with interns has major consequences.
Clinton was accused of having an affair with White House Intern Monica Lewinsky in 1998 when the Starr Report was released to the public.
He became the second President to be impeached by the House of Representatives. His impeachment was on the grounds of obstruction of justice and perjury after lying under oath regarding his affair with Monica Lewinsky during a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by Paula Jones yet another female he had indiscretions with.
With this accusation, newspapers flourished with witty Pro- and Con-Clinton columns and tabloids exploded with vulgar details of the affair.
Most of the millennial generation was in elementary school, and they weren’t able to comprehend an extra-marital affair. I imagine most conversations between parents and children went like this:
Kid: “Mom, my teacher said the President was impeached. Why?”
Mom: “Because of Monica Lewinsky. The President lied about spending too much time with her.”
The millennial kids grew up. They understood what affairs were and learned jokes told in school from older kids about Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky and her black beret and infamous blue dress.
Now fast-forward to 2008. Hillary Clinton ran for president, and Bill Clinton served as a supportive husband. Although not in the presidential hot-seat anymore, Clinton managed to make The KoldCast TV’s top-10 most embarrassing presidential moments when he fell asleep during a MLK Day talk in Jan. 2008.
Once again, the former president was popular topic amongst the millennial generation, but for mockery rather than for political reason.
What we should know (to catch our generation up with our parents’)
What my generation didn’t learn about Clinton were his accomplishments and failures as president of the United States.
According to Biography.com’s report on Clinton, the president’s first two years of presidency proved unsuccessful, largely due to a failed healthcare bill headed by First Lady Hillary Clinton.
In 1994, Clinton passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which added 100,000 policemen and increased the level of punishment for a variety of crimes (including the Death Penalty). Additionally, he signed a law that increased minimum wage by ninety cents.
By increasing his popularity in the second half of his first term, Clinton was reelected for a second term.
During his time in office, the economy flourished. According to The White House’s Clinton Biography, the nation “enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history.”
The nation experienced the lowest unemployment and inflation rates in recent history, and the highest homeownership rates in history.
A Forgotten Blemish (By every generation)
The United States experienced a time of peace and prosperity during the Clinton administration, but there is great controversy over Clinton’s handling with the Rwandan Genocide that occurred in the 1990s.
Stories of the horrific Rwandan Genocide have leaked to the United States in recent years. Hotel Rwanda, Left to Tell and Running the Rift are among various media publications that tell of the events that occurred in Rwanda between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes.
According to an article by The Guardian, President Clinton chose not to intervene in Rwanda, even after the term “Genocide” was used by Senior officials.
“Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president had been told of a planned “final solution to eliminate all Tutsis” before the slaughter reached its peak,” The Guardian reported.
Although it isn’t possible for the United States to solve every world crisis, it is unsettling that the United States didn’t intervene when over 800,000 people were killed in a span of 3 months in Rwanda.
Good deeds now
Even after his Lewinsky scandal and ignorance to the Rwandan Genocide, Clinton has remained a political figure, supporting Hillary as the Secretary of State and working with former president George H.W. Bush to create the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
With political parties currently so divided over the federal budget, Bush and Clinton have set an example for the rest of the nation of how Democrats and Republicans can work together.
Perhaps that’s what makes Clinton unstoppable. He’s highly likeable and has an ability to consistently prove that he is genuinely trying to improve America, even after scandals that would demolish the average politician’s reputation. If my generation would focus on his unfaltering spirit-his American Spirit-we would see how he can be a role model for our lives by working through embarrassment and political scandal and still succeeding to improve the lives of others.