Discovering Bill Clinton: fails and successes in his presidency

Photo of William J. Clinton

Caspar W. Weinberger (2003) wonders  in his review of the book “Losing bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror”  how could a saxophone player become President of the United States, this is a question that many people posed when Bill Clinton reached the White House in 1993. There are many things that people don’t know about him, let’s start with his biography: William Jefferson Clinton was born on August 19th of 1946 in Hope, Arkansas. His first plans for his future were becoming a professional saxophone player, but his mind changed when he met President John Kennedy. He realized that he wanted to be like him, charismatic and attractive for the public so this meeting made him want to work on public service.

He graduated from Georgetown University and also received a law degree from Yale University in 1973. After this, he returned to Arkansas and taught law there.But his life changed in 1975, when he married Hillary Rodham, a law student he met at Yale University. In 1980 they had their only child, Chelsea.

One year after becoming professor in Arkansas, a democratic Bill Clinton presented his candidacy for the House of Representatives in 1974, but he did not win. In 1976, with no opposition at all, he was elected General Attorney of Arkansas. Two years later, he was elected Governor of Arkansas, being the youngest governor in the country (aged 32). He lost the re-election in 1980, but he won the gubernatorial elections again in 1982, which lasted ten years.

In 1992, just after the Cold War, Clinton won the presidential election defeating George H. W. Bush. This way, he became the 42nd President of the US. He was president for two terms, 1993-1997 and 1997-2001. In the second term, he defeated Bob Dole with the 49.2% of the votes.

Clinton’s foreign policy was based on the premise that United States should stop solving all the conflicts in the world. In fact, his Secretary of State W. Christopher said that they would need help from other countries to achieve foreign policy objectives. The House of Representatives and the Senate, which had a Republican majority, rejected this idea.

Clinton’s politics had both successes and failures. On the one hand, we can enumerate some of the successes:

·         In Washington, 1993, he signed the Gaza-Jericho I agreement.

·         Dayton agreement in 1995, in which peace was signed in the former Yugoslavia.

·         Economic growth. The economic recession got over and several agreements are made on this point:

o   Creation of the Asia-Pacific cooperation forum. They pursued the creation of a free trade area before 2020.

o   NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement): signed by Bush but approved by Clinton, looked for the creation of a free trade area before 2005 among Mexico, Canada and the US.

o   Japan: a trade agreement was signed in 1995. Until 1993, Japan was protective, especially in the automobile sector, so he began to negotiate. Finally, Clinton had to threaten with imposing 100% tariffs on Japanese cars, so Tokyo accepted.

o   Conversations for disarmament: they started in September 1990 with the Summit in Helsinki between USSR and US. In theory, they were about the Gulf War, but also both sides promised to write up a strategic and conventional agreement before the end of 1990. In November of that year, the CSCE Summit (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) was celebrated, where the agreement on reduction of conventional armament was signed.

o   Kosovo (1999): The American troops took part in the war and managed to defeat the Milosevic regime.

o   Improved relations with China: in 1999, Clinton signed an agreement with China by which they commit to be open to importation in exchange for joining the WTO (World Trade Organization).

o   Plan Colombia: Initiative that consisted of sending 1300 million dollars aid to Colombia to fight against guerrilla groups and drug trafficking. This was heavily criticized when it was introduced, because people were afraid that it would bring US to an internal conflict as Vietnam.

His proponents contend that under his presidency the US enjoyed the lowest unemployment and inflation rates in recent history, high home ownership, low crime rates, and a budget surplus. They give him credit for eliminating the federal deficit and reforming welfare, despite being forced to deal with a Republican-controlled Congress.

El análisis que realiza Klein de la presidencia – y la biografía – de Clinton incide también en sus problemas para enfrentarse a una oposición republicana feroz – véase el caso de Newt Gingrich -, que desde un principio no le dio cuartelillo, las malas relaciones con la prensa y la pésima gestión de la imagen personal de un presidente, Clinton, que, no obstante, gozaba del favor de la mayoría de la población, a pesar de sus deméritos, desastres personales y fracasos. Klein no hace un relato exhaustivo de la presidencia de Clinton, ni estructurado en áreas, aunque hay elementos destacables en los que se centra: la fracasada reforma sanitaia, el bagaje ideológico de Clinton en el seno del partido demócrata, las vilezas de la política legislativa en Washington, las relaciones de Clinton con sus asesores y su esposa Hillary, y, cómo no, el escándalo Lewinsky.

According to Richard Miniter’s new book” one of the main failures  had to do with terrorism :

It is sad, infuriating history of the number of opportunities President Clinton had to capture and imprison or kill the terrorist Osama bin Laden. Instead, we are still hunting. Bin Laden is still at large and alive enough to sponsor and concoct the details of the worst attack on America in our history — the destruction of the World Trade Center and the bombing of the Pentagon. What other horrors he is planning we do not know, simply because he is still uncaptured.

After leaving the White House, Bill Clinton founded the Clinton Foundation with four main missions: to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote health and wellness, and protect the environment. In twelve years, the Bill Clinton Foundation has worked to bring help and commitment to causes and problems all around the world, having staff and volunteers working hard to improve lives.
What is clear, whether you liked Bill Clinton or not, is that he did not leave anybody indifferent. Furthermore, we cannot deny that he tried, by leaps and bounds, to change the U.S which, according to many, did.


White house ( 2006)  Bill Clinton’s biography published in 2006 . Retrieved November 6 from

Bill Clinton Foundation, (2011) More details about Clinton’s biography 2011. Retrieved November 6 from

Farsalia (2009) Contains review of the book Clinton: una presidencia incomprendida 2009 Retrieved November 6 from

Caspar W. Weinberger (2003),  Bill Clinton’s failure on terrorism, review of Richard Miniter’s book, “Losing bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror”  1/9/2003 Retrieved November 5 from


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