Bill Clinton. Great guy right there. Wait…right? Is that okay to say? According to Audie Cornish of NPR in an interview with documentarian Barak Goodman in his new documentary “Clinton,” everybody seems to have an opinion about the 42nd president. Yeah, a lof of people do care and there is somewhat of a stigma attached to his name and his presidency. But when Cornish says everyone, who is she really referring to? Obviously, my parents’ generation has an opinion to express. Some might say that all they can remember about him is his scandals, but some might remember (and rightfully so) the fact that the Congressional Budget Office reported an actual American budget surplus in his last three years in office, 1998-2000, which is crazy to even consider today.
Despite what he has done, who cares now? My generation? I’m not really sure that we do. I mean, I can barely wrap my mind around the fact that I have a black president!
My generation was young when all of this was going on. He was hated on, he was praised, but we were too young to care at that time. I do vaguely remember hearing my parents talk about him and what he was doing, but not enough to have their opinion sway mine. What I learned about him I, mostly, learned on my own. However, I did learn a bit in my history classes growing up. It’s interesting to think about how the majority of what I learned about him in a school setting was about his scandals (more about Monica Lewinsky and the Starr Report than Gennifer Flowers). Come to think of it, a lot of what I think my generation remembers about presidents and other major public figures is the scandal, the crime, the hate. But what about all of the other stuff?
A Washington Post page dedicated to Clinton describes it perfectly: “Clinton, a Democrat and the 42nd President of the United States, presided over the longest peacetime economic expansion in American history only to have a series of personal scandals, including an affair with a White House intern, lead to his impeachment by the House of Representatives, the first such proceedings against a president since Andrew Johnson 131 years earlier.”
Hey, give him a chance, college students. He is still a political figure. I mean Hillary was campaigning for the presidency in 2008! And in 2010, right after the earthquake in Haiti, President Obama asked former Presidents George W. Bush and Clinton to work together in a “major fundraising effort” to help the people in Haiti, according to Clintonbushhaitifund.org. The group works for long-term reconstruction of the company. See? Clinton is still around, people. But of course, the most recent item to put him in the news is, of course, this new documentary that focuses in large part on his scandals.
I don’t think he’s such a villain, but I don’t necessarily think he’s a hero either. Honestly, I just don’t think that college students think about him that much. But when we do, the novelty factor plays in way more than thinking of his actual political career – we just love a good scandal.