When Bill Clinton served as President of the United States, my generation was to busy learning the alphabet to focus on politics. Personally, I knew little more about Bill Clinton other than the title he held. Now that we have all grown into young adults, we are knowledgeable enough to form our own opinions about his presidency.
Though Clinton retired from public office over 10 years ago, he certainly hasn’t left the public eye.He continues to do speaking engagements across the world and campaigns for democrats seeking positions in public office today. His wife, Hilary Rodham Clinton, currently holds the position as Secretary of State. My generation’s interest in Clinton grew following his presidency, because most of our lives were spent with him as a major public figure.
While my generation feels the stress of the economic hardship taking place in the United States, we are able to make a comparison to the country’s well being during Clinton’s presidency. President Clinton proposed the first balanced budget in 30 years that increased Federal spending 4 percent, hired 100,000 new teachers, provided more child care, bolstered scientific research and offered narrowly distributed tax incentives. In addition to his proposal, the largest budget surplus in U.S. history was achieved. For the fiscal year 2000, it amounted to at least $230 billion. Today, the U.S. has a budget deficit of more than 1.6 trillion dollars, which is equal to about 11 percent of the overall economy. This difference makes it is easy for my generation to look back on Clinton’s term in a favorable light. According to whitehouse.gov,
“He could point to the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country’s history, dropping crime rates in many places, and reduced welfare rolls.”
In a recent Gallop poll, 60% of Americans say that Clinton will go down in history as an outstanding president.
Many of the people who were old enough to comprehend Clinton’s political actions during his presidency, see him as a failure simply because his personal life didn’t meet moral standards. During his second term in the white house, Clinton came under fire for a possible affair with 22 year-old white house intern, Monica Lewinsky. Congress
immediately took action to see if the allegations were true. They appointed Kenneth Starr to investigate and he published a detailed account of the scandal, known as the Starr Report. The House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice regarding his affair, but the senate acquitted him on all charges. However, Clinton’s reputation was damaged and many of his supporters felt betrayed.
Later Clinton dispatched peacekeeping forces to war-torn Bosnia, became a global proponent for an expanded North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and launched a world wide campaign against drug trafficking. But it didn’t mater what motions for peace and prosperity he made, Clinton had lost his dignity in the eyes of Americans. Anne Coulter, writer and legal correspondent, wrote the following in a June 28, 2004 article titled “How Bill Clinton Will Be Remembered,”
“What actually happened during Clinton’s presidency? No one can remember anything about it except the bimbos, the lies, and the felonies. Fittingly, in the final analysis, Clinton will not be remembered for what he did as president, but for who he did.”
I think my generation has developed an appreciation for Clinton’s presidency that older generations haven’t. We were too young to understand the world of politics during his term and therefore too young to feel betrayed when the Lewinsky sex scandal broke out. Those who despise Clinton and his presidency fail to recognize his legacy, because they can’t overlook that feeling of betrayal.
On january 18, 2001 President Bill Clinton stated in his farewell address,
“In all the work I have done as president, every decision I have made, every executive action I have taken, every bill I have proposed and signed, I’ve tried to give all Americans the tools and conditions to build the future of our dreams, in a good society, with a strong economy, a cleaner environment, and a freer, safer, more prosperous world.”
If one can overlook the mistakes he made in his personal life, perhaps they can see that Clinton ultimately wanted the best for his country.