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Bill Clinton on Principles & Values

President of the U.S., 1993-2001; Former Democratic Governor (AR)


Conflict makes good politics, but cooperation works

Through my foundation both in America and around the world, I'm working all the time with Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Sometimes I couldn't tell you for the life who I'm working with because we focus on solving problems and seizing opportunities and not fighting all the time.

When times are tough and people are frustrated and angry and hurting and uncertain, the politics of constant conflict may be good, but what is good politics does not necessarily work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation.

What works in the real world is cooperation, business and government, foundations and universities. Now, why is this true? Why does cooperation work better than constant conflict? Because nobody's right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day.

Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn't see it that way. They think government is always the enemy, they're always right, and compromise is weakness.

Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 5, 2012

America is an idea: play by the rules and pursue your dreams

America at its core is an idea--the idea that no matter who you are or where you're from, if you work hard and play by the rules, you'll have the freedom and opportunity to pursue your own dreams.

Work is about more than making a living. It's fundamental to human dignity, to our sense of self-worth as useful, independent, free people.

It's heartbreaking to see so many people trapped in a web of enforced idleness, deep debt, and gnawing self doubt.

Our political system hasn't done a good job of meeting our challenges, and [that's] why government still matters and what it should do. I want American Dreams growth--lots of new businesses, well-paying jobs, and American leadership in new industries, like clean energy and biotechnology.

Source: Back to Work, by Bill Clinton, p. ix-x , Nov 8, 2011

Liberal and Conservations can learn from each other

In a positive political environment, liberals and conservatives could learn from each other and advance the public interest. Liberals want to use the government to solve problems and are usually eager to experiment. True conservatives are more cautious, reminding us that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, or at least mitigate them. Conservatives believe culture, including strong work ethic and stable families, matter more.

Today, our process is too tilted in favor of powerful private interests over the public interest, in favor of short-term financial gains over long-term employment and income growth, in favor of consumption over investment, in favor of pushing more of our national income up to the top 1 percent over increasing the incomes of the middle class and giving poor people a chance to work their way into it.

Source: Back to Work, by Bill Clinton, p. 46-47 , Nov 8, 2011

2012 voters should understand this recession is different

Q: How can President Obama get re-elected with an unemployment rate hovering around 9%?

A: I think the President will be able to rely on the fact that he has tried to come up with a serious and comprehensive plan. The question is, Will voters understan that this was a different sort of recession and then evaluate the competing candidates in terms of whether their ideas are more or less likely to get us out of the fix we're in? You know, I think people are pretty smart once they understand the deal.

Source: Time Magazine on "Back To Work" book tour by Bill Clinton , Jan 21, 2011

2001: outgoing staff removed "W" from computer keyboards

[Entering the White House in January 2001], some of our predecessors had not "honored the House." Members of the Clinton staff had trashed offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Ripped the W's off keyboards, left obscene messages on walls and furniture, scribbled profane graffiti in restroom, poured glue or something sticky on furnishings, broke glass tops on desks, burned furniture with cigars, and left vulgar greetings on the voice-mail system.

The most disruptive thing they did was to remove phones from one office and put them in another. At the White House, each phone is programmed to work at a specific outlet. Plug it in elsewhere and it won't work. Departing Clinton staffers moved about one hundred phones to the wrong outlets and there was no simple way to figure out where each one belonged. Some of my colleagues were without phone service for almost a week as technicians sorted out the mess.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.225 , Nov 2, 2010

OpEd: MonicaGate sin was self-indulgence, not immorality

Mike Bloomberg's' pragmatism seems always to prevail over Mike Bloomberg's emotions, and a cold-eyed discipline over his frailties. Get a hold and get over it, as his parents instructed and he does.

When Bill Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky was entertaining America, Bloomberg was indignant. Casual acquaintances were amazed to hear him vent angrily about the president. Clinton's behavior was not only outrageous, he would say, it was unacceptable; he should resign. Mike Bloomberg suddenly a prig? No way. He saw Clinton's offense not as immoral; it was self-indulgent, lacking self-control. Not the Bloomberg way.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p. 70-71 , Sep 28, 2010

Founders knew that America, to endure, would have to change

In his inaugural speech, Clinton said: "This ceremony is held in the depth of winter. But, by the words we speak and the faces we show the world, we force the spring. A spring reborn in the world's oldest democracy, that brings forth the vision and courage to reinvent America. When our founders boldly declared America's independence to the world and our purposes to the Almighty, they knew that America, to endure, would have to change. Not change for change's sake, but change to preserve America's ideals--life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Though we march to the music of our time, our mission is timeless." Clinton was greatly influenced by President Kennedy and it was the humanity and hopeful vision of earlier presidents that Clinton liked to evoke, saying, for example: "Let us resolve to make our government a place for what Franklin Roosevelt called `bold, persistent experimentation', a government for our tomorrows, not our yesterdays."
Source: The 100 Greatest Speeches, by Kourdi & Maier, p. 63 , Mar 3, 2010

All great contests are head games

"All great contests," Bill Clinton once said, "are head games."

Clinton had always regarded political contests as the greatest contests of all. He loved them, lived for them, mastered them--in no small part because he understood the psychological rules so well. Successful combatants, Clinton said, had to put "distance between them and these withering attacks" they would face. "You just have to know they're coming in different ways and you just can't let yourself be defined by them." You couldn't let them undermine your judgment. Couldn't let yourself be paralyzed. "Only a small percentage of what voters are looking for is whether any of this stuff if true," he said. "What they're really looking for is to see, how is this person going to react?"

[In the 2008 NH primary], Clinton had been playing a head game with Obama and had arguably been winning.

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p.209 , Jan 11, 2010

Exited office with peace, prosperity, & historic popularity

Bush's inaugural will take place against a backdrop of the divisive controversies of the Clinton years, which resulted in only the second impeachment of a president in history. Clinton still ignites Bush's conservative base with anger, but he will be leaving office with an unusually high public approval rating of 65 percent. He also bequeaths favorable conditions to his successor: a nation at peace, facing no visible foreign threats, with projected surpluses for years to come. The rosy forecast for Bush's inauguration day is nearly $6 trillion in surpluses that would accumulate between 2001 and 2011. If a national political consensus can be achieved, America has the ability to do almost anything it wants.
Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 9 , Aug 4, 2009

OpEd: The ultimate surrogate campaigner, popular everywhere

Bill Clinton provided Hillary with an asset no other candidate could employ. He was the ultimate surrogate, popular in virtually every corner of the Democratic Party, an obviously skilled campaigner who could double the reach of the campaign by assuring that the Clintons could be in twice as many places on any given day as Obama. He also was a strategist with few peers in presidential politics. There were limits on his powers, however. This was, after all, Hillary's campaign, not his, and her advisers talked at length about how to make maximum use of him without allowing him to overshadow his wife. Behind the scenes, he was an influential voice on strategy but, as the experience of 2007 had shown, did not get his way on how much Obama should be attacked.

Bill insisted that Hillary compete all out in S.C., against the advice of her top advisers. Bill wanted to demonstrate that he still had political force and influence within the African-American community. [Obama won S.C. overwhelmingly.]

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p.156-157 , Aug 4, 2009

OpEd: Feeds on energy from personal contact with crowds

A Secret Service agent notes, "When presidents get into a crowd, they just seem like they feed on the energy from the people they are shaking hands with. They may be dragging from a long day of campaigning, but when they hit the rope line, they start to get energized all over again. I've seen it time and time again. It seemed to have the strongest effect on Clinton. He'd replenish his energy from theirs and get charged up and ready to continue. They all did it, but it seemed to have the strongest effect on him."

"We had a young, gregarious guy who absolutely thrived on and was energized by being in crowds," another agent says. "We weren't going to have a conversation saying, 'Sir, you're really going to have to change. This isn't presidential.' We really had to redefine the way we did business on the road."

The Secret Service adapted to the fact that Clinton would plunge unpredictably into crowds. They identified places where Clinton could go and allow agents to scout out the areas in advance.

Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by R. Kessler, p.162-167 , Jun 29, 2009

Rebuild the American dream and restore American leadership

Our nation is in trouble on two fronts. The American dream is under siege at home and America’s leadership in the world has been weakened. Middle-class & low-income Americans are hurting, with incomes declining, job losses, poverty and inequality rising, mortgage foreclosures and credit card debt increasing, health care coverage disappearing and a very big spike in the cost of food, utilities and gasoline. Our position in the world has been weakened by too much unilateralism and too little cooperation by a perilous dependence on imported oil; by a refusal to lead on global warming; by a growing indebtedness and a dependence on foreign lenders; by a severely burdened military; by a backsliding on global nonproliferation and arms control agreements; and by a failure to consistently use the power of diplomacy from the Middle East to Africa to Latin America to Central and Eastern Europe. Clearly, the job of the next president is to rebuild the American dream and to restore American leadership in the world.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 26, 2008

Despite critics, fervent believer in policy solutions

The notion of Hillary and Bill Clinton as power-hungry acquisitors with little interest in the public weal save some sort of left-leaning ideology has always been at odds with the facts. In his inaugural address, he proclaimed floridly: “For as long as I can remember, I have believed passionately in the cause of equal opportunity, and I will do what I can to advance it. For as long as I can remember, I have loved the land, air, and water of Arkansas, and I will do what I can to protect them. For as long as I can remember, I have wished to ease the burdens of life for those who, through no fault of their own, are weak or needy, and I will try to help them.“

Over the next two years, Clinton would find himself walking a thin line between implementing policies that could dramatically contribute to the lives of his fellow Arkansans, and attempting not to rattle of the establishment and the good ol’ boys who ran the legislature.

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p.145-146 , Jun 5, 2007

When he set the agenda, he won; but scandals interfered

The greatest power of the presidency and the essential tool put to use by modern American presidents, was the ability to set the national agenda.

The joint Clinton presidency lost the ability to set the national agenda as no other modern presidency had Whenever Clinton was able to regain control of the agenda, he was almost always successful: the economic plan, NAFTA, welfare reform, and a series of orders & actions toward the end of his administration that made higher education available to almost any American. His perseverance in winning the major achievements of his presidency were extraordinary.

From its outset until Clinton’s acquittal in the Senate trial, the terms of the national debate were more often set by the press, the Clintons’ enemies, the Republican opposition, and the special prosecutor. The best efforts of the Clintons, their aides and lawyers were spent in response to investigations. The Clinton presidency was sapped of its almost limitless potential.

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p.350-351 , Jun 5, 2007

OpEd: Fairy tale that Clinton emerged from nowhere in 1992

There's a romantic story people like to tell themselves about this figure named Bill Clinton, whom no one had ever heard of--that he simply emerged from nowhere to be the most talented man in American political life. The point of telling the story this way, obviously, is to reassure us that if we just look around one more corner, we may find his cousin, who is lurking as, say, a governor of some small unnamed state.

Right? Wrong. There are, of course, any number of problems with this story, as there are with any good fairy tale.

First of all, everyone in politics had known, or known of, Bill Clinton for 20 years before he ran for president. He was the boy wonder, for goodness's sakes, not an unknown.

Second, Bill Clinton was the front-runner from the start in 1992. That's why he was on the cover of Time--before the Gennifer Flowers story broke. Clinton recovered, because he was as experienced as you get, and had all the advantages of the front-runner in a front-loaded system.

Source: The Case for Hillary Clinton, by Susan Estrich, p.140-141 , Oct 17, 2005

Republicans have to portray Democrats as unacceptable to win

We Democrats want to build a world and an America of shared responsibilities and shared benefits. We want a world with more global cooperation where we act alone only when we absolutely have to. We think the role of government should be to give people th tools to create the conditions to make the most of their own lives. And we think everybody should have that chance. The Republicans believe American should be run by the right people-their people-in a world in which America acts unilaterally when we can & cooperates when we have to. They believe the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their economic, political and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on important matters like health care and retirement security. Now, since most Americans aren’t that far to the right, our friends have to portray us Democrats as simply unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America. But we don’t.
Source: Speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Strength and wisdom are not opposing values

Strength and wisdom are not opposing values. They go hand in hand, and Kerry has both. His first priority will be to keep America safe. Kerry and Edwards are good people with good ideas, ideas to make the economy work again for middle-class Americans, to restore fiscal responsibility, to make health care more affordable, college more available, to free us from dependence on foreign oil, and create new jobs with clean energy and a cleaner environment, and to make a world with more friends and less terror.
Source: Speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Right wing ideology trumps compassionate conservatism

I had watched the Washington Republicans for eight years and imagined that President Bush would, from the outset of his term, be under pressure to abandon compassionate conservatism by the more right-wing leaders and interest groups now in control of his party. They believed in their ways as deeply as I believed in mine, but I thought the evidence, and the weight of history, favored our side (democratic liberalism).
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.951 , Jun 21, 2004

First president to admit he participated in psychotherapy

Virginia Kelley told me that she and Bill and her younger son, Roger, had gone into family therapy together after Roger was busted for cocaine (while Bill was governor; the surveillance and arrest took place with Bill's prior approval).

The last was an admission that I didn't appreciate sufficiently at the time: Bill Clinton was the first American President to admit that he had participated in a form of psychotherapy.

I asked Clinton what he'd learned in family therapy. "Well," he said without hesitation, "there are different sorts of addictions." By which I assumed he meant--I was too embarrassed to pursue this aggressively--that his addiction was to fame & success & glory.

The conversation did establish an important subtext for Clinton's success as a politician in the 1990s: his thorough mastery of the therapeutic vocabulary and the trompe l'oeil sense of intimacy it provided. I barely knew the man and we were talking, or seeming to talk, about the most ridiculously intimate things.

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p. 24-25 , Feb 11, 2003

Awe & disappointment intertwined in Clinton staff

The President's relationship with his staff was as complicated as the rest of his life. Awe and disappointment were intertwined. The awe was inspired by Clinton's intelligence--particularly, his encyclopedic knowledge of policy questions--his perseveranc and his ability to charm almost anyone under any circumstances; he was, without question, the most talented politician of his generation. At close range, his skills could be breathtaking: He was always the center of attention; he filled any room he entered. But there was a harshness, a certain brute insensitivity that was inextricable part of these fluorescent energies. All of Clinton's emotional sensitivity seemed to be expended in his work, which meant that there was not much decency or graciousness left over for the help. His self-involvement, self-indulgence, and, all too often, self-pity, were notorious. And yet, the staff was intensely loyal, with a deep sense of political mission.
Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p. 3 , Feb 11, 2003

OpEd: Sloppy personal habits reflected in sloppy policy

One of Clintons' alleged women, Paula Jones, was encouraged by conservatives to come forward and tell her story: that the governor of Arkansas had approached her and she had refused him vehemently. The trooper who had originally told this story, Danny Ferguson, had a different version: Jones had visited Clinton in a hotel room and emerged smiling, offering herself in perpetuity as "the governor's girlfriend."

The Paula Jones story had the ring of truth--at least, Ferguson's version did--and it gained great currency in Washington. In a May 1994 Newsweek essay, I argued that Clinton's tendency toward sloppy policy-making, particularly overseas, might be a reflection of his sloppy personal habits. The argument soon was prove wrong-headed (to its author, at least) as the President gradually became far more disciplined in his statements and public actions, but the theory became a staple of the conservative case against Clinton, especially during the Lewinsky scandal.

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p.108 , Feb 11, 2003

Toni Morrison calls Clinton “first black president”

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison came up with the “first black president” concept because, in her view, Clinton displayed ‘almost every trope of blackness.’ These included being raised in a single parent household, poverty, playing the saxophone, and liking junk food, especially from McDonalds. All this dysfunction, victimhood, & sexuality, gave Bill Clinton genuine blackness, she proposed. Clinton echoes Morrison’s sentiments: “That’s why I went to Harlem. Because I think I am the first black president.”
Source: The Final Days, by Barbara Olson, p. 56 , Oct 25, 2001

Future: fiscally responsible; lead world; weave diversity

    Tonight I want to leave you with three thoughts about our future.
  1. America must maintain our record of fiscal responsibility. If we choose wisely, we can pay down the debt, deal with the retirement of the baby- boomers, invest more in our future and provide tax relief.
  2. Because the world is more connected every day in every way, America’s security and prosperity require us to continue to lead in the world. At this remarkable moment in history, more people live in freedom than ever before. Our alliances are stronger than ever. People all around the world look to America to be a force for peace and prosperity, freedom and security.
  3. We must remember that America cannot lead in the world unless here at home we weave the threads of our coat of many colors into the fabric of one America. As we become ever more diverse, we must work harder to unite around our common values and our common humanity. We must work harder to overcome our differences in our hearts and in our laws.
Source: President Clinton’s farewell address , Jan 18, 2001

What’s right with America can fix what’s wrong with America

In an earnest if unremarkable speech--edited, like all his other major addresses, by Hillary--the president speaks of the hopes that have put him in office. “The American people have summoned the change we celebrate today. You have raised your voices in an unmistakable chorus,” he tells the vast throng spread the Capitol down Pennsylvania Avenue. “There is nothing wrong with America,” he assures them, “that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”
Source: Partners in Power, by Roger Morris, p. 8 , Apr 25, 1999

OpEd: Able to make anyone feel comfortable and at home

Pres. Clinton and I are from the same hometown. We were both born in Hope, Arkansas. We went to the same kindergarten--Miss Marie's--9 years apart, then both attended Brookwood Elementary.

Even though we were born in the same town, we grew up in very different environments. The president has told the story of how he grew up with an abusive, alcoholic stepfather. I was fortunate to grow up without that sort of family tension.

Clinton went to college out of state, then on to England as a Rhodes Scholar. He had a secular educational environment. I went to Ouachita Baptist University.

Today the president and I have a cordial, genuinely engaging relationship. He is warm, hospitable, and encouraging to everyone around him. He can make anyone, regardless of who he or she is, feel comfortable and at home. He really enjoys being around people. I admire what he has been able to accomplish. Of course, this doesn't mean I celebrate the president's worldview.

Source: Character IS the Issue, by Mike Huckabee, p.129-130 , Sep 9, 1997

$200 haircut scandal: accused of delaying airline flights

In the midst of the fight to pass the economic plan, 2 media flaps exposed the lack of organization and discipline within the White House. First, the White House had fired some of its travel office personnel, citing "gross mismanagement," and then hired a cousin of Clinton's, prompting accusations of nepotism. Then Clinton delayed his departure on Air Force One from the Los Angeles Airport so he could receive a ridiculously expensive haircut--some reports said $200--from a Beverly Hills stylist. For a while, reports incorrectly said the haircut delayed other flights. Though neither story had long-term implications, they reflected basic management problems that Clinton did not insist be addressed.
Source: The Agenda, by Bob Woodward, p.195 , Jun 6, 1994

Promise of ethical reform invited harsh unceasing scrutiny

The Clintons complained bitterly that from their first days in office they had been singled out and judged by harsher standards than any of their predecessors, and victimized by a consortium of enemies and overzealous press. There is little question that they were treated more harshly, and often pursued with different standards & more relentlessly than any president & his wife of the 20th century.

Moreover, the underlying assumptions of some of the basic charges & assertions that fueled the unceasing investigation--most notably those related to the so-called Whitewater matter--were often contextually misleading, exaggerated in significance, and sometimes factually off-base.

Yet there can be no question that the Clintons had invited unusual scrutiny by their impassioned promises of probity to voters in the campaign of 1992, and an unwavering inaugural theme that stressed the ethical reform they said they were bringing to Washington. There was something of an implicit challenge in their manner.

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p.233 , Jun 5, 2007

Worked several jobs to pay for law school

Bill Clinton at Yale was a bit older than the average law student, and bore more responsibilities. Although he was fortunate enough to be chosen for one of Yale’s few law school scholarships, the money was nowhere near enough to cover even the most meage costs of living. To meet expenses, he was forced to hold as many as three part time jobs at once. In the course of his years at Yale he taught at a small community college, staffed for a city councilman at Hartford, and worked for a lawyer in New Haven.
Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p. 47 , Aug 1, 1999


Bill Clinton on Early Life

1955: attended church on his own accord at age 9

In the midst of household turmoil, Bill found a place of refuge amid the rottenness of Hot Springs: a church.

By the mid-1950s, the only religious education that Bill Clinton had received came from two years in a Catholic grade school, a subject on which virtually nothing has been written. But starting in 1955, the 9-year-old began to wear a suit on Sunday mornings and walk alone to Park Place Baptist Church. The pastor, Reverend Dexter Blevins, said the boy was there “every time the door opened.” The boy sensed, maybe from observing the behavior of the two immature adults in his small universe, that it was important that he go to church in order to “to try to be a good person.”

His mother agreed with her young son’s decision to find God, encouraging him to go every week, even though she and her husband made it only on Christmas and Easter.

The claim will shock his detractors today, but there were some who thought that the young Clinton would grow up to be a minister.

Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p. 41 , Jul 18, 2007

1974:Turned down dairy money because it had strings attached

In the final weeks of Bill’s campaign for Congress, an operative was contacted by a lawyer connected to the dairy industry. He was willing to give $15,000 to be used in Sebastian County, which would “ensure that you are able to win the election.” The unspoken message was that such funds could be used to buy votes. And if Bill won, the dairy interests would expect political payback. At a meeting, the operative explained the deal. Hillary listened to his pitch in silence, then shouted, “No. You don’t want to be a party to this.”

The operative asked Bill, “Do you want to win or do you want to lose?” Hillary said, “If we can’t earn it, we can’t go.” And that was that. On election night, Bill’s opponent won by 6,000 votes.

Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p. 54-55 , Jun 8, 2007

1982 theme: “My daddy never had to whip me twice”

[After Bill’s gubernatorial loss in 1980, polls suggested] an ad in which Clinton apologized for his mistakes, most notably the car tag increase. This led to an ad campaign with the theme, “My Daddy Never Had to Whip Me Twice” Given another opportunity by Arkansas citizens, said Bill, he would pay them heed and not make the same mistakes again. The ads aired in early Feb. 1982, but Bill would not announce his candidacy until Chelsea’s 2nd birthday on Feb. 27. At that press conference, Hillary gave Bill a framed picture of the three of them, with the engraving, “Chelsea’s second birthday, Bill’s second chance.”

The 1982 campaign became the model for their political future, with Hillary assuming a far more direct, hands-on role in terms of policy, strategy, and staff. Hillary was never bashful about telling you when she thought you made a mistake. Bill Clinton would never tell you that, though he might think it. He was the good guy. Hillary was the one that laid the law down.

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p.165 , Jun 5, 2007

From mother Virginia came stamina & gregariousness

Hillary and Bill were asleep when the phone rang in the early morning hours of January 6. Dick Kelley, Virginia’s husband, was on the line to tell the president that his mother had died in her sleep. She had been fighting breast cancer since 1990.

Virginia had been the big influence on Bill’s life. She had persevered through hard knocks, inculcated in him her optimism and drive. She had buried three husbands, two of whom had abused her. She had worked long hours and paid most of Bill’s tuition to Georgetown. “I got my stamina from my mother,” Bill said.

Clinton’s gregariousness, his fun-loving nature, his glad-handing, his hugging, his empathy, his ability to focus on whomever he was talking to, all those were traits he shared with his mother.

Hillary believed that Bill and Virginia shared great optimism, along with a tendency to repress unpleasant thoughts. He had nearly photographic recall, yet for decades had blocked out painful scenes involving his abusive stepfather.

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p.369-370 , Jun 5, 2007

Born in 1946 in Hope Arkansas to a widowed mother

Early on the morning of August 19, 1946, I was born under a clear sky after a violent summer storm to a widowed mother in the Julia Chester Hospital in Hope, a town of about six thousand in southwest Arkansas, thirty-three miles east of the Texas border at Texarkana. My mother named me William Jefferson Blythe III after my father, William Jefferson Blythe Jr., one of nine children of a poor farmer in Sherman, Texas.

My father met my mother at Tri- State Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1943, when she was training to be a nurse. Two months later, they were married and he was off to war. He served in a motor pool in the invasion of Italy, repairing jeeps and tanks. After the war, he returned to Hope for Mother and they moved to Chicago, where he got back his old job as a salesman for the Manbee Equipment Company.

On May 17, 1946, [my father died in a traffic accident] drowned, only twenty-eight years old, married two years and eight months, only seven months of which he had spent with Mother.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, First Chapter , Jun 23, 2004

Father’s death in traffic accident drove Bill to achieve

On May 17, 1946, my father was driving from Chicago to Hope to fetch his wife. Late at night, he lost control of his car, when the right front tire blew out on a wet road. He was thrown clear of the car but landed in, or crawled into, a drainage ditch. He drowned, only 28 years old, married 2 years & 8 months, only 7 months of which he had spent with Mother.

When I was about 12, sitting on my uncle’s porch in Hope, a man walked up the steps, looked at me, & said, “You’re Bill Blythe’s son. You look just like him.“ I beamed for days.

My father left me with the feeling that I had to live for two people, and that if I did it well enough, somehow I could make up for the life he should have had. And his memory infused me, at a younger age than most, with a sense of my own mortality. The knowledge that I, too, could die young drove me both to try to drain the most out of every moment of life and to get on with the next big challenge. Even when I wasn’t sure where I was going, I was always in a hurry.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, First Chapter , Jun 23, 2004

Discovered a half-brother in 1993

In 1993, on Father’s Day, my first as President, [several newspapers ran] investigative stories on my father. The stories turned up a lot we didn’t know, including the fact that my father had probably been married three times before he met Mother, and apparently had at least two more children.

My father’s other son was identified as Leon Ritzenthaler, a retired owner of a janitorial service, from northern California. He said he had written me during the ‘92 campaign but had received no reply. I got in touch with him and later met him & his wife, Judy. We had a happy visit and since then we’ve corresponded in holiday seasons. He and I look alike, his birth certificate says his father was mine, and I wish I’d known about him a long time ago.

Somewhere around this time, I also received information about a daughter, born Sharon Lee Blythe in Kansas City in 1941, to a woman my father later divorced. I’m sorry to say that, for whatever reason, I’ve never met her.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, First Chapter , Jun 23, 2004

Father's early death left me with sense of my own mortality

My father [who died at age 28] left me with the feeling that I had to live for two people, and that if I did it well enough, somehow I could make up for the life he should have had. And his memory infused me, at a younger age than most, with a sense of my own mortality. The knowledge that I, too, could die young drove me both to try to drain the most out of every moment of life and to get on with the next big challenge. Even when I wasn't sure where I was going, I was always in a hurry.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p. 7 , Jun 1, 2004

Father brought date to hospital where he met mother, a nurse

Early on the morning of Aug. 19, 1946, I was born under a clear sky after a violent summer storm to a widowed mother in the Julia Chester Hospital in Hope, a town of about 6,000 in southwest Arkansas. My mother named me William Jefferson Blythe III after my father, William Jefferson Blythe Jr., 1 of 9 children of a poor farmer in Sherman, Texas, who died when my father was 17. According to his sisters, my father always tried to take care of them, and he grew up to be a handsome, hardworking, fun-loving man.

He met my mother at Tri-State Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1943, when she was training to be a nurse. He brought a date with some kind of medical emergency into the ward where she was working, and they flirted while the other woman was being treated. The next day he sent the other woman flowers and Mother's heart sank. Then he called Mother for a date, explaining that he always sent flowers when he ended a relationship. Two months later, they were married and he was off to war.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p. 4 , Jun 1, 2004

Knew his father only through stories from family

After serving in the war in Italy, he returned to Hope for Mother and they moved to Chicago, where he got back his old job as a salesman. They bought a little house in the suburb of Forest Park but couldn't move in for a couple of months, and since Mother was pregnant with me, they decided she should go home to Hope.

On May 17, 1946, my father was driving from Chicago to Hope to fetch his wife. Late at night on Highway 60 outside of Sikeston, Missouri, he lost control of his car when the right front tire blew out. He was thrown into a drainage ditch. The ditch held three feet of water. When he was found, after a two-hour search, his hand was grasping a branch above the waterline. He had tried but failed to pull himself out. He drowned, only 28 years old.

That brief sketch is about all I ever really knew about my father. All my life I have been hungry to fill in the blanks, clinging eagerly to every photo or story or scrap of paper that would tell me more of the man who gave me life.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p. 4-5 , Jun 1, 2004

Father had two children from three previous secret marriages

In 1993, on Father's Day, the Washington Post ran a long investigative story on my father, which was followed by other investigative pieces. The stories turned up a lot we didn't know, including the fact that my father had probably been married three times before he met Mother, and apparently had at least two more children.

My father's other son was identified as Leon Ritzenthaler, a retired owner of a janitorial service, from northern California. I got in touch with him and later met him and his wife, Judy. Since then we've corresponded in holiday seasons. He and I look alike, his birth certificate says his father was mine, and I wish I'd known about him a long time ago.

Somewhere around this time, I also learned about Sharon Pettijohn, born Sharon Lee Blythe in Kansas City in 1941, to a woman my father later divorced. She sent copies of her birth certificate; her parents' marriage license; a photo of my father. I'm sorry to say that, for whatever reason, I've never met her.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p. 5 , Jun 1, 2004

OpEd: Virginia an unlikely, but American, presidential mom

Bill Clinton's mother gave me a tour of Hot Springs, Arkansas, the town where she had raised her two boys. Virginia Kelley was an unlikely, but wonderfully American, candidate to be the mother of a President. She was the sort of woman whom proper folks tend to scorn, particularly in the South: a ton of makeup, almost comically applied; a white streak down the middle of her dyed black hair (some of the locals called her "skunk woman"); a passion for the racetrack, for nightlife, and for the wrong sort of men. And yet, Mrs. Kelley was not at all pathetic; she was canny and formidable and charming; an entertaining guide who, in the course of our day together, managed to ask all the right political questions and also to make some very astute predictions. "I think the press is going to give Bill a lot of trouble." She sighed. "Don't you?" At one point she startled me. "That's the church where I go to my A.A. meetings," she said, nodding toward a prim Protestant outpost of recent vintage.
Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p. 23-24 , Feb 11, 2003

Alcoholic dad may have defined Clinton’s personality

Bill Clinton, as the stepchild of an alcoholic father, came into adulthood with a legacy of family dysfunction that he had almost no choice but to re-enact to a certain degree with Hillary. It is also axiomatic that adult children of alcoholics will seek affirmation and approval everywhere they can find it. They lack the inner mechanism that naturally allows them to feel good about themselves, and are cruelly harsh in judging themselves.
Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p.111 , Aug 1, 1999

Half siblings Henry & Sharron, by two different mothers

As in all the bawdy old jokes about traveling salesmen, there were women--especially for Bill Blythe [Bill Clinton’s father; known as “W.J.”]. He married, somewhat furtively, 18-year-old Adele Gash. They were divorced in 1936. Still, he went back to Adele often after the divorce and, the following spring, fathered a baby boy by her, Henry Leon, born in January 1938.

In 1940, he met a dark-haired 17-year-old named Wanetta Alexander. By the end of 1940 Wanetta was pregnant, and Bill Blythe had gone to northern California, supposedly to see Adele and his first child.

But after a few days Bill had suddenly run off with Adele’s pretty younger sister, Minnie Faye. Bill and Minnie Faye Gash were married on December 29, 1940, in Durant, Oklahoma. That too, was soon over.

Under pressure from the Alexander family, his hasty marriage to Minnie Faye was annulled in Little Rock in April 1941. In less than a week, he married Wanetta. His new wife gave birth to a baby girl. They named her Sharron.

Source: Partners in Power, by Roger Morris, p. 19-21 , Apr 25, 1999

His father committed bigamy by marrying his mother

[In 1943 Bill Bythe met] Virginia Dell Cassidy. She was engaged at the time to a high school sweetheart but was immediately taken with Bill Blythe and his striking good looks. [They married in September.]

On April 13, 1944, a Missouri court granted the divorce [for Bill Blythe and Wanetta Alexander, whom he had married in April 1941. That means that on] September 3, 1943, Bill Blythe had committed bigamy by marrying Virginia Cassidy before a justice of the peace in Texarkana.

He joined the army and was sent abroad only five weeks after his marriage to Virginia. He was discharged as a technician, third grade, in December 1945 with a commendation for his service.

Virginia became pregnant [with Bill Clinton] almost immediately. Her conception came at the beginning of the great postwar baby boom. [Bill Blythe died in a car accident that May]

Source: Partners in Power, by Roger Morris, p. 20-22 , Apr 25, 1999


Bill Clinton on Hillary Clinton

1986: Made mocking bumper stickers "For First Lady"

When Clinton ran for governor in 1986, he was facing Gov. Frank White, who had defeated him for reelection in 1980 (and whom he had defeated in his 1982 comeback). White ran a negative ad attacking Hillary for allegedly taking legal fees from the Rose La Firm for a specific piece of state business while Bill was governor. The fees were for representing Arkansas in a utility rate case--and White took money from utility companies in his campaign.

So Clinton answered: "Frank White would let the utility companies raise their rates at will. They are financing his campaign. Now White attacks Hillary Clinton for representing Arkansas in a lawsuit against the utilities. Says she took fees from tax money. But she didn't. She represented the state for free. Hey, Frank: If you want to attack Bill, attack Bill. But not his wife. After all, you're running for governor...not for first lady."

It worked: Clinton festooned the state with "Frank White for First Lady" bumper stickers, & White's campaign was cooked

Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p.290-291 , Apr 13, 2010

Bill’s “let me think about it” meant “I’ll ask Hillary”

Bill and Hillary’s joint decision-making at the beginning of his presidency was as overt as it would ever be in the White House. “He would say, ‘Hillary thinks this. What do you think?’” said White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum. “They really were a partnership. She was the absolutely necessary person he had to have to bounce things up against, and he was that for her. I sensed a tremendous need for each other. They didn’t have to see each other, but they would talk continually every day.“ In deference to her continuing role as Bill’s ”closer,“ staff members called Hillary ”the Supreme Court.“ ”We would always say, ‘Has the Supreme Court been consulted?’“ recalled Dee Dee Myers, the president’s press secretary for two years, now a V.F. contributing editor. Whenever Bill said, ”Let me think about it,“ aides knew he intended to call Hillary.
Source: For Love of Politics, by Sally Bedell Smith, p. X , Oct 23, 2007

Don’t eliminate Hillary over “dynasty”; vote on her merits

Q: Do you ever think of the historical significance, a husband and a wife both being president?

A: Sometimes. I think you asked her last time about how for 28 years...

Q: From 1980 to 2008 there will be a Bush or a Clinton on the national ticket. Two families, political dynasty.

A: She responded, “Well, I think Bill was a pretty good president,” which is a way of saying, “I’m not responsible for 20 of those 28 years.” To be fair, though, when we think of dynasties in historical circumstances, you get it because of who your family is, not because of what your merits are. I think the real question here is not whether she’s establishing a dynasty, but almost whether we should eliminate her because she happens to be my wife if she is otherwise the person who would be the best president. I think she’s the best suited, best qualified nonincumbent I’ve had a chance to vote for for president for this moment in time. So I don’t want to see her eliminated because [of concern over dynasty].

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Sep 30, 2007

1986: Attacked for Hillary working at Rose while First Lady

In Sept. 1986, Frank White, the Republican candidate for governor, began running ads stating that the Clintons had a conflict of interest because Hillary was a member of the law firm that her husband’s administration had hired. Bill and White then argued about the issue in a televised debate. “The money the state paid to the Rose firm was subtracted from the firm’s income before Hillary’s partnership profits were calculated,” Bill said, “so she made no money from it.” Bill also deflected White’s attacks by asking him if he wanted to run for First Lady instead of governor.

These arguments resonated. In the eyes of the voters, the relationship became a non-issue. But previously undisclosed law firm records show that Hillary didn’t ask the firm to segregate her share of the state business until two months after White’s unsuccessful attack. Hillary eventually rectified the situation by repaying her share of past state fees “in any year Bill served as Governor,” which she calculated at $12,235.83.

Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p. 80-81 , Jun 8, 2007

Met Hillary in 1970: impressed with strength, not appearance

Bill Clinton remembers the moment he first set eyes on Hillary. It was toward the end of the fall of 1970. Bill was not initially attracted to Hillary’s appearance. There was something else Bill saw that he liked. It was an attraction to something less obvious and more irresistible. Bill later admitted that Hillary “conveyed a sense of strength and self-possession I had rarely seen in anyone.”

Bill followed Hillary, fully intending to introduce himself. When he came within two feet of her, a force larger than himself stopped him. “It was almost a physical reaction. Somehow I knew that this wasn’t another tap on the shoulder, that I might be starting something I couldn’t stop.”

Bill and Hillary met near the end of their first year. They were inseparable that first week. Over the weekend, Hillary went to see a man she had been dating. Bill spent the weekend fretting. When she returned, he called her but she was sick. Bill brought her soup, and with that, neither was interested in anyone else.

Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p. 44-45 , Jun 8, 2007

Start of “20-Year Project”:Hillary managed Bill’s House race

Hillary & Bill had made a secret pact, one whose importance has remained their secret across all these years. They agreed to embark on a partnership with two goals: revolutionize the Democratic Party and capture the presidency for Bill. They called it their “twenty-year project.” They agreed that the only way they would be able to achieve their goals was to do whatever it took to win elections & defeat opponents. Bill would be the public face, and Hillary would serve as the behind-the-scenes manager.

In a letter to Bill, Hillary laid out some of the details. One of Bill’s ex-girlfriends accidentally stumbled upon the letter. “The note talked about all their future plans. political plans. the letter had everything to do with their careers, there was no talk of a home, family, and marriage.” Having glimpsed the missive Crider was not surprised to see Hillary running Bill’s first campaign for Congress. Hillary did everything. She wrote Bill’s speeches. She even sold sandwiches to raise money.

Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p. 53-54 , Jun 8, 2007

OpEd: Marriage is a jet-set cosmopolitan arrangement

In 1988, Bill broached the subject of divorce with governors from other states who had survived the collapse of their marriages. But he told his friends in Arkansas that he wanted to save his marriage. And Hillary wanted to save it, too. She had invested too much in Bill Clinton.

By now even Clinton true believers are curious about the dynamic of the fractious Clinton marriage. The marriage is a very cosmopolitan arrangement, more typical of European jet-set society than of America. It is a playboy marriage. True, at a certain practical level it is the marriage of convenience, allowing both Clintons to advance their political ambitions as they avail themselves of each other's uncommon political skills. Yet there is an emotional side, too, deeply fulfilling to both parties' idiosyncratic needs. Bill's waywardness gives Hillary ample opportunities to exercise Madame Hillary's indignant bossiness. And Madame Hillary's tireless watchfulness allows Bill exciting opportunities to sneak out on mother.

Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrell, p. 84-85 , Feb 25, 2004

Gave up job with McGovern 1972 campaign to follow Hillary

Bill had signed on to work in Senator George McGovern’s presidential campaign and that the campaign manager, Gary Hart, had asked Bill to organize the South for McGovern. The prospect of driving from one Southern state to another convincing Democrats both to support McGovern and to oppose Nixon’s policy in Vietnam excited him.

Although Bill had worked in Arkansas on campaigns for Senator J. William Fulbright and others, and in Connecticut for Joe Duffey and Joe Lieberman, he’d never had the chance to be in on the ground floor of a presidential campaign.

I tried to let the news sink in. I was thrilled.

“Why,” I asked, “do you want to give up the opportunity to do something you love to follow me to California?”

“For someone I love, that’s why,” he said.

He had decided, he told me, that we were destined for each other, and he didn’t want to let me go just after he’d found me.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, first chapter , Nov 1, 2003

Loves Hillary but has caused pain in their marriage

We appeared on “60 Minutes” right after the Super Bowl to discuss the Gennifer Flowers issue.

The interviewer started with a series of questions about our relationship, adultery and divorce. We declined to answer such personal questions about our personal lives. But Bill acknowledged that he had caused pain in our marriage and said he would leave it to voters to decide whether that disqualified him from the Presidency.

Q: You seem to have reached some sort of an understanding or an arrangement.

Bill: Wait a minute. You’re looking at two people who love each other. This is not an arrangement or an understanding. This is a marriage. That’s a very different thing.

Hillary: I’m not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I’m sitting here because I love him and I respect him. If that’s not enough for people, then heck, don’t vote for him.

23 days later, Bill became known as the “Comeback Kid” for his strong 2nd-place finish in N.H.
Source: Living History, by Hillary Clinton, p.106-107 , Nov 1, 2003

Nature of Clinton marriage was abiding mystery of presidency

[The story went], "During a heated political discussion, suddenly, Bill took Hillary in his arms and started kissing her all over her face and he said, 'God, what would I do without you!'"

There are several plausible reactions: One is "Oh, yuck." Another is "Oh, come on." The story conformed to the recollection of a great many people who knew the Clintons well. (And I accidentally witnessed the Clintons in a serious snuggle on a dark pathway after a campaign speech in Columbia SC, in 1992.)

The quality and texture, and the nature, of the Clinton marriage was the great abiding mystery of his presidency. Most of the speculation was vapid, tabloidy stuff.

Over time, I decided that the wisest course regarding the Clinton marriage was to be indiscriminately credulous, to believe ALL the stories. He was chronically unfaithful. They fought like harpies. They were political partners. They were best friends. They loved each other madly, in every sense. None of these were mutually exclusive.

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p.114-115 , Feb 11, 2003

OpEd: Appointing Hillary shows inappropriate boundaries

A further indication of Clinton's difficulty with forming appropriate intimacy boundaries occurred with the selection of his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to serve as chairperson of the commission for health-care reform. Regardless of her educational and other qualifications, her selection raised a number of issues.

If Clinton had become dissatisfied with the action of the commission, would he have fired his wife? Did members of the health reform commission have complete freedom to express their opinions knowing that the chairperson shares a bed with the president? Even if these freedoms exist, such a decision reshapes the role of a nonelected spouse.

When the president was governor of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton also served as chairperson on an important committee reforming educational standards. Clinton's comment at the time was: "This guarantees that I will have a person who is closer to me than anyone else overseeing a project that is more important to me than anything else."

Source: The Dysfunctional President, by Paul Fick, p. 56-57 , Jun 1, 2000

Hillary’s coldness contributed to Bill’s infidelity

Hillary knew Bill too well: his warts and weaknesses alike. She too was disappointed, critical of his first term in office, if not personally of him. It is altogether understandable that, under conditions that would have been so painful to him, he went beyond his marriage to seek the feeling of unconditional love and approval he so needed-the kind of love that, for people with poor self esteem, a spouse cannot provide.
Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p.112 , Aug 1, 1999


Bill Clinton on Impeachment Scandal

Still angry at Ken Starr for tawdry details

The bombshell hit the public on August 17, 1998, with Bill giving public admission in a prime-time speech on national television. Bill Clinton was master of the parsed word. The way he phrased his admission, conceding a “lapse in judgment,” would have allowed for merely a single sexual act. That was all he needed to admit, since there was only one verifiable stain. Moreover, he used the speech to take the offensive against Kenneth Starr, the official independent counsel.

President Clinton did say he was “solely and completely responsible,” though that stand-up statement seemed to fall by the wayside as he tore into Starr.

Yes, Starr had reported some tawdry personal material. Yet, Bill Clinton, publicly and under oath, had denied the relationship with Lewinsky. Starr had a legal and ethical duty to find and report the details. To this day, Bill Clinton remains angry at Starr.

Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p.163-165 , Jul 18, 2007

1996: faith community most scandalized by Easter liaison

The 1998 Starr Report had one item focusing on Bill Clinton’s faith and the public’s perception of him as a religious or nonreligious man--the tale of Clinton’s sexual exploits with Monica on Easter Sunday, 1996, when Bill, who had spent the morning at church, had an afternoon liaison with Monica in the Oval Office. This liaison was perhaps the most scandalous of them all, having commenced in the hallway before moving to Bill’s private study, whereupon the president received oral sex from the intern as he simultaneously conducted business over the phone.

The incident has hardly been forgotten, especially among observant Christians. Detractors and skeptics of Bill’s faith never cease to bring it up, always eager to denounce Bill as a hypocrite.

Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p.166 , Jul 18, 2007

“What the meaning of is, is” became symbol of hairsplitting

[On 8/17/98, Bill Clinton testified before a grand jury.] When asked directly whether he was “physically intimate with Monica Lewinsky,” he read a written statement acknowledging “inappropriate intimate contact,” but he repeatedly said that this “did not consist of sexual intercourse,” nor did it “constitute sexual relations” under the 3-pronged definition he had been given during the Jones deposition.

The prosecutor pointed to a passage in the Jones deposition when his lawyer had assured everyone that there is no sex of any kind in any manner, shape, or form between the president & Lewinsky. The prosecutor asked the president whether he agreed that this “was an utterly false statement.”

With a wan smile, the president said, “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’... is. If ‘is’ means is, and never has been, that is one thing. If it means, there is none, that was a completely true statement.” The quotation came to symbolize Bill’s hairsplitting obfuscation, and infuriated the prosecutors.

Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p.191-192 , Jun 8, 2007

Expanding Whitewater to Lewinsky was a perjury trap

Linda Tripp had a riveting tale that implicated the president in an affair with a White House intern. In 1998, the president was scheduled to be deposed by Paula Jones’s lawyers in a sexual harassment lawsuit. During that session, he would be asked, unde oath, about the nature of his relationship with Lewinsky.

The deposition amounted to nothing less than an elaborate perjury trap designed to catch the president in an under-oath lie. The trap by Jones’s lawyers was intended to harm Bill politically and possibly drive him from the presidency.

Kenneth Starr sought permission to extend the Whitewater inquiry into Tripp’s allegations. The thinking was that the president’s alleged attempt to “buy” Lewinsky’s silence through a job in NY was tantamount to the same sort of obstruction of justice. By virtue of the wording of the independent-counsel statute, he was within his rights to follow nearly any lead. It was not surprising that Attorney General Janet Reno granted Starr’s request to investigate it.

Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p.171-172 , Jun 8, 2007

Monica affair was “inappropriate” but not sex in legal terms

In the Paula Jones deposition, Clinton’s lawyer represented to the judge that “there is no sex of any kind in any manner, shape, or form” between the president and Monica Lewinsky. [In the Starr inquiry], Clinton was asked by a prosecutor “Wouldn’t you agree, this was an utterly false statement?” Clinton smiled. “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.... If ‘is’ means is and never has been, that’s one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.” A few minutes later, “I was not trying to give you a cute answer to that.“

Clinton read from a prepared statement in which he admitted ”inappropriate intimate contact“ with Lewinsky, which ”did not consist of sexual intercourse,“ and did not ”constitute sexual relations“ as defined in a long list of terms he had read at his deposition. He said, ”I’ll bet the jurors, if they were talking about a sexual relationship, they meant they were sleeping together; they meant they were having intercourse“--not oral sex.

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p.514 , Jun 5, 2007

$52M Whitewater investigation began on real estate; not sex

Upon the Clinton’s arrival at the White House, the notion that their failed $100,000 investment in an old real estate deal would lead to the president’s impeachment for lying about his sexual conduct was inconceivable. The “Whitewater story” became overblown almost from the moment the NY Times first wrote about it, during the 1992 campaign. The Clintons’ response was not straightforward, & served only to create more suspicion.

It was a reasonable issue to explore in a presidential campaign: the governor of a state who had regulatory authority over a savings-and-loan was in business with the owner of an S&L, jointly owning a piece of land. But in retrospect, it’s shocking how much was made out of that mistake.

After 6 years of investigation, $52 million, and a Senate trial, the special prosecutor was forced to acknowledge that there had been no violation of law by either Hillary or Bill surrounding the land transaction. The allegation that stuck was that Bill Clinton lied about sex.

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p.348-349 , Jun 5, 2007

Monica & impeachment propelled him to highest approval

During the Monica Lewinsky episode, Hillary appeared on the Today show and said, “I do believe that this is a battle. I mean, look at the very people, who are involved in this. They have popped up in other settings. The story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.”

A week after her appearance on the show, a poll showed that 59% believed that “Clinton’s political enemies are conspiring to bring down his presidency.” Bill had achieved the highest approval ratings of his presidency--67% of Americans approved of his performance.

The impeachment locomotive was gathering steam. Hyde would have doubts about the wisdom of continuing down the impeachment track, especially because Bill’s popularity remained high, but Gingrich had no hesitancy.

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p.498-505 , Jun 5, 2007

1994 Lincoln Bedroom Memo: "start overnights right away"

I had written [a memo to Clinton] just after my breakfast with the President in late December 1994, when he was dejected after the midterm loss. [The press was very interested]. "Okay, I'm fine with that," I said. "So what?"

"Well, unfortunately for you, Terry, the President turned the memo over and wrote a note on the back saying, "Ready to start overnights right away,'" she said. Thus the famous Lincoln Bedroom Memo.

"Okay, but it doesn't have anything to do with me," I said. "He didn't write that note to me. I didn't even get a copy of the memo back."

"Terry, I know you didn't get it back," she said. "I'm just letting you know this is going to be news." An AP reporter was about to move a story saying that I wrote a memo to the President recommending that he use the Lincoln Bedroom for fund raising. I have never written the words 'Lincoln Bedroom' in my life.

Source: What A Party!, by Terry McAuliffe, p.131-132 , Jan 23, 2007

Asks forgiveness from Monica and her family

I said that I was sorry for all who had been hurt--Monica Lewinsky and her family; that I had asked for their forgiveness:-- a willingness to give the very forgiveness I seek.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.810 , Jun 21, 2004

Cites John 8:7 as defense against impeachment

I have two stones with the New Testament verse John 8:7 inscribed on them. In what many people believe was Jesus’ last encounter with his critics, the Pharisees, they brought to him a woman caught in the act of adultery and said the law of Moses commanded them to stone her to death. Jesus responded ‘He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.’ My sense of my own mortality and human frailty and the unconditional love I’d had as a child had spared me the compulsion to judge and condemn others. And I believed my personal flaws, no matter how deep, were far less threatening to our democratic government than the power lust of my accusers.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.846-7 , Jun 21, 2004

OpEd: too unconcerned with money to care about Whitewater

In 1989, Al From [the president of the DLC] went to Little Rock and offered Clinton the chairmanship of the Democratic Leadership Council. There followed a halting, anguished mating ritual of the sort that has now become Bill Clinton's signature in both life and politics. The governor seemed to love the idea, but... he didn't quite accept the post.

Months passed, and there was still no firm commitment. "I've got a big decision to make," Clinton told Al From. "I've got to decide whether I'm going to ru for governor again. If I don't do it, I'm going to have to figure out some way to make $100,000 a year to support my family." Al From responded, "You stupid son-of-a-b*, I'll pay you $100,000 right now to be chairman of the DLC!"

Al From later recalled with a laugh. "That's why I never believed he was money-corrupt during the Whitewater business--the guy had no sense of his own worth." In time, Clinton chose to do both: He ran for reelection as governor and became chairman of the DLC (without pay).

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p. 30-32 , Feb 11, 2003

OpEd: 1998 scandal: surplus of libido & deficit of integrity

On January 21, 1998, after five tumultuous, sloppy, often brilliant, exhausting--and elusive--years as President of the United States, Bill Clinton finally landed in a political mess from which he seemed unlikely to extricate himself. That morning, the Washington Post reported the President apparently had been intimate with a White House intern, a young woman named Monica Lewinsky--and that he had lied about this relationship under oath (in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a second woman, a former Arkansas state employee named Paula Corbin Jones).

These charges combined the President's most commonly assumed depravities: a surplus of libido and a deficit of integrity. The surplus had been expended upon an employee the approximate age of his daughter, and the deficit involved untruthfulness of a potentially criminal sort. Furthermore, there appeared to be solid evidence of Clinton's guilt.

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p. 1 , Feb 11, 2003

1998: Lewinsky affair upset GOP & press more than the public

To Clinton's circle of friends and employees, his habits, excesses, and eccentricities had become both legendary & entirely predictable over the years. The Lewinsky affair was shocking & disgraceful but not unpredictable. The reaction of the press, the Republicans, and the public had gone pretty much as expected (the press and the Republicans were a lot more upset than the public seemed to be). That the President would somehow survive the squalid moment seemed likely, too. He always did. But there would be a difference this time. In the past there had always been a certain exhilaration inherent in watching the President elude the posse.

He would survive yet again--but he had damaged himself irrevocably. His behavior, during the affair and after, was both outrageous and pathetic. He had lawyered his way through an act of passion, redefining what "sex" was and what "is" is; but he would survive--but there would be no joy in watching him elude the posse this time. Just embarrassment and disgust.

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p.162-163 , Feb 11, 2003

OpEd: Bill’s infidelity was enabled by state troopers

After the election, Arkansas troopers told reporters for the American Spectator, the Los Angeles Times, and CNN that they had procured more than 100 women for Bill Clinton, at his request, during the campaign and after the election. One of those mentioned turned out to be Paula Corbin Jones, a 24-year-old secretary. The governor directed a trooper to bring her to his hotel room where Clinton made an indecent and lewd proposition, complete with lowered trousers.
Source: The Final Days, by Barbara Olson, p.107 , Oct 25, 2001

Loses Supreme Court on sexual harassment lawsuit

After seeing her name in one of the Troopergate stories, Paula Jones brought suit in federal court for sexual harassment by her then superior, the governor of Arkansas. The stakes were now astronomical. Clinton was president, and he could not afford to answer questions about liaisons with women, particularly unwelcome approaches to young employees. He fought the suit all the way to the United States Supreme Court, losing 9-0.
Source: The Final Days, by Barbara Olson, p.107-108 , Oct 25, 2001

Accepted 5-year law license suspension in Paula Jones case

Clinton’s Court Statement in Paul Jones Case: “Today I signed a consent order in the lawsuit brought by the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct, which brings to an end that proceeding. I have accepted a 5-year suspension of my law license, agreed to pay a $25,000 fine to cover counsel fees, and acknowledged a violation of one of the Arkansas model rules of professional conduct, because of testimony in my Paula Jones case deposition. The disbarment suit will now be dismissed.”
Source: The Final Days, by Barbara Olson, p.100 , Oct 25, 2001

Clinton disbarred from Supreme Court

The Supreme Court said today that a lawyer who was disciplined in his home state of Arkansas cannot practice law before the High Court. The action was totally unremarkable, except that the lawyer in question is former President Bill Clinton.

The justices’ action followed Clinton’s acceptance earlier this year of a five-year suspension of his law license in Arkansas and his payment of a $25,000 fine to the Arkansas Bar Association [stemming from a sexual-harassment suit filed in 1994 by Paula Corbin Jones].

The high court’s rules call for it to suspend a lawyer who has been disbarred or suspended by a lower court from practicing before the United States Supreme Court. The rules also give the lawyer 40 days to respond to final disbarment from the high court. No further punishment is involved but, since it is an honor for a lawyer to be admitted to practice before the high court, losing that privilege could be seen as an embarrassment, especially for a former president.

Source: David Stout, New York Times , Oct 1, 2001

Acknowledges wrongdoing; pays fine; seeks closure

Today, I signed a consent order in the lawsuit brought by the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct which brings to an end that proceeding.

I have accepted a five-year suspension of my law license, agreed to pay a $25,000 fine to cover counsel fees, and acknowledged a violation of one of the Arkansas model rules of professional conduct because of testimony in my Paula Jones case deposition. The disbarment suit will now be dismissed.

In this consent order, I acknowledge having knowingly violated Judge Wright’s discovery orders in my deposition in that case. I tried to walk a fine line between acting lawfully and testifying falsely, but I now recognize that I did not fully accomplish this goal and that certain of my responses to questions about Ms. Lewinsky were false.

I have apologized for my conduct and I have done my best to atone for it with my family, my administration and the American people. I hope my actions today will help bring closure and finality to the matters.

Source: Statement on conclusion of Whitewater investigation , Jan 19, 2001

OpEd: Monica opened discussion of Clinton's compulsions

Since the 1996 edition of The Dysfunctional President, new allegations of serious sexual misconduct by President Clinton have come to light that reinforce the book's original thesis. The Monica Lewinsky bombshell finally spurred the media to take seriously allegations that the president had been leading a very active extramarital sex life that could compromise his ability to govern the country. Almost overnight, the president's personal weaknesses, which were self-evident and detailed several years ago in this book, ceased to be a media taboo.

Media attention was long overdue, though it is tempting to retort, "Where were you when The Dysfunctional President was initially released? However, what is truly important is that the impact of the president's psychology and sexual compulsion can now be subject to reasoned discussion.

Source: The Dysfunctional President, by Paul Fick, p. v-vi , Jun 1, 2000

Tendency to lie results from being adult child of alcoholic

Ronald Reagan was also an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA). In his autobiography, Reagan expanded on the role that his mother, Nelle, played in forging his perception of his father. "When Nelle thought we were old enough to know, she sat us down and explained why my father sometimes disappeared. She said Jack had a sickness that he couldn't control--an addiction to alcohol."

It is important to stress that a significant difference exists between Reagan and Clinton. Reagan did not repeatedly demonstrate the effects of his background as an ACOA. Clinton, on the other hand, did.

The discrepancies in Clinton's statements are the clearest examples of such behavior. Clinton frequently exhibits the process of denial and automatic lying. Following Clinton's election, the lies have become legendary. As a nation we are experiencing the replay of the dysfunction inherent in Pres. Clinton's childhood.

Source: The Dysfunctional President, by Paul Fick, p. 34-37 , Jun 1, 2000

Betsy Wright: Bill had female ‘fan base’ nationwide

Betsy Wright [Chief of Staff while Clinton was Arkansas Governor and campaign staffer] on Bill Clinton’s female ‘fan base’: “They were on the streets, sidewalks, in choirs, singing at his church. They were in the walls here. And nationwide! We’d go to a National Governors Association meeting and there’d be women licking his feet. There were always so many women who were throwing themselves at him.”
Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p.110 , Aug 1, 1999

The Star paid Gennifer Flowers for affair story

The Star agreed to pay [Gennifer Flowers] a considerable amount of money for the tapes and her statement that she had been Clinton’s lover for twelve years. The Star shortly after published a rehash of the Nichols suit.

In the story, Flowers claimed she had begun to see Clinton in 1977 and continued an affair with him even after she had moved to Dallas in the early 1980s. She had told friends then about special visits from a ‘Bill’ from Arkansas.

Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p.178 , Aug 1, 1999

Evidence disappeared in Whitewater scandal

Many other questions could not be answered, because Whitewater’s records could not be located. Jim McDougal said that at the Governor’s request they had been delivered to the mansion years earlier. The Clintons said that many of them had simply disappeared.

No evidence of wrongdoing ever emerged. Federal regulators finally took the savings and loan away from McDougal, and a federal grand jury charged him with fraud.

Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p.184 , Aug 1, 1999

1995: Budget impasse caused federal shutdown & MonicaGate

In Nov. 1995, the federal government literally shut down because of a budget impasse between Clinton and the Republican Congress. It was the biggest gamble of Clinton's presidency. On Nov. 15, amid the chaos of having no regular employees on duty, Clinton wound up alone in the chief of staff's office with a young intern who caught his eye. They began flirting.

She told Clinton she had a crush on him. He laughed. Would you like to see my private office? Clinton asked? She nodded. Clinton took her through his private dining room toward his study. They kissed passionately. Before leaving, she wrote on a piece of paper her phone number & her name: "Monica Lewinsky."

He told Lewinsky he liked her smile and her energy. "I'm usually around on weekends, no one else is around, and you can come and see me," he told her. Lewinsky was on cloud nine, but she was worried that perhaps Clinton's regular girlfriend was furloughed and would be back as soon as the government shutdown ended.

Source: Shadow, by Bob Woodward, p.292-293 , Jun 15, 1999

Arkansas trooper declined to cover up for Governor Clinton

Clinton's lawyer Bennett [for MonicaGate did] final preparation. Every case, every witness, every client had a point of greatest vulnerability--an Achilles heel. Locating it was a lawyer's, and ultimately the client's, insurance policy. Of the nine women on the list he had located the real problem. It was not Monica Lewinsky.

No, Bennett believed, he had smoked out the real liability on the list--Marilyn Jo Jenkins, a beautiful marketing executive whom Clinton had known for more than a decade.

Danny Ferguson, the Arkansas trooper who was Clinton's codefendant in the Jones case, had sworn under oath that he had brought Jenkins four times for private basement office visits with Clinton at the Governor's Mansion. Ferguson had brought gifts to Jenkins from Clinton.

Bennett had learned from another lawyer that Clinton had asked Ferguson to cover for him; the trooper had declined. "It's tough to be in love with two different women," Ferguson quoted Clinton as saying.

Source: Shadow, by Bob Woodward, p.373 , Jun 15, 1999

There IS no relationship with Monica, and WAS none

PBS NewsHour asked about Starr's investigation of the Lewinsky allegations. Clinton's eyes were baggy, and he was tightly wound. "There is not a sexual relationship," the president said, "an improper sexual relationship, or any other kind of improper relationship."

It seemed that Clinton was leaning heavily, even exclusively, on the present tense "is." Reporters accustomed to parsing Clinton's language would seize on it. "Look," an aide said, "you used the present tense, were you meaning to communicate anything?"

"Oh, no, no, no, no," the president said.

"WAS it in any way sexual?" another aide asked, leaning hard on the 'was.'

"The relationship WAS not sexual," the president replied.

Source: Shadow, by Bob Woodward, p.389-394 , Jun 15, 1999

Grounds for impeachment: lying & obstructing justice

Source: The Starr Report, p. 21-22 , Sep 11, 1998

1987: Delayed presidential run to get their house in order

In Sept. 1987, Bill Clinton declined to run for the presidency. He said it was because of Chelsea--that she was too young to be left behind during a campaign.

But the talk was of something less noble. Senator Gary Hart had seen his political career derailed when he was caught in an affair with a young woman. The rumors about Bill had been rampant for years--he was a man with an appetite; he couldn't pass up a pretty face. I had other friends like the Bill Clinton of those rumors--except their lived

Source: , Nov 1, 1997

OpEd: Whitewater? No; Clinton distrusted Jim Guy Tucker

Jim Guy Tucker and I were nothing alike, but initially I had a very good working relationship with him [when I was Tucker's Lt. Governor]. In fact, I had much better working relationship with Tucker than he had experienced with Gov. Clinton. The two of them had been rivals for years. I know a person doesn't understand Arkansas politics when I hear him talking about how Tucker and Clinton were tied together in a Whitewater conspiracy. Tucker and Clinton mistrusted each other far too much to be partners in any sort of business deal. Privately, neither would say a nice thing about the other. They barely spoke, much less worked together. Their rivalry went back to 1978 to Clinton was the attorney general running for governor and Tucker was a congressman running for the Senate. Tucker lost. In 1982, when Clinton was making his comeback after having been voted out of office in 1980, Tucker ran against him in the Democratic primary. Clinton beat Tucker & the bitterness between them intensified.
Source: Character IS the Issue, by Mike Huckabee, p. 62-63 , Sep 9, 1997

1992: Left AR financial mess for successor to clean up

I've heard people say they suspect Clinton and Tucker made some sort of deal: "Back off and let me get reelected, then you can move up when I become president." They would never have trusted each other enough for that.

When Clinton became president, Tucker was thrust into the governor's office; but even before that, during the 1992 presidential campaign, Tucker was the de facto governor because Clinton was never there. Clinton was not terribly interested in staying governor after 1990. He was running for president the whole time.

What really bothered Tucker was that Clinton would hand unfinished business to him but never give him the inside information he needed to handle it well. It was a tough time. Increasingly as Clinton got into the presidential campaign, Tucker had more day-to-day impact on managing the government.

When Clinton moved to the White House after the 1992 election, Tucker was furious with him. Clinton left the state in a financial mess, which Tucker had to clean up.

Source: Character IS the Issue, by Mike Huckabee, p. 64 , Sep 9, 1997


Bill Clinton on Personal History

OpEd: America elected Clinton knowing his personal history

I've heard many people blame the sordid transgressions that marred Bill Clinton's presidency for causing a moral decline in America. But I don't think one person can cause a moral decline, nor can one person improve our society's moral condition.

Unethical behavior sometimes comes out of the blue. But in the case of Bill Clinton, for example, Americans already knew a lot about his...er...unusual personal history during his first presidential campaign--and we elected him anyway.

Source: Leadership and Crisis, by Bobby Jindal, p.151 , Nov 15, 2010

"Clinton Standard Time": late to most appointments

Secret Service agents refer to what they call Clinton Standard Time. That is a reference to the fact that Bill Clinton is often one to two hours late. To Clinton, an itinerary with scheduled appointments was merely a "suggestion." Sometimes Clinton was late because he was playing a game of hearts with his staff. Other times he ignored his schedule because he wanted to chat with a janitor or hotel worker he happened to meet. Like Clinton, Gore was often late.
Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by R. Kessler, p.145&148 , Jun 29, 2009

Clinton mystique: generates excitement & also generates cash

The Clinton Mystique: How do two people control the oldest and largest party in the country? What are their levels of control? On the surface, of course, it is their extraordinary appeal. Bill Clinton remains a mesmerizing figure to those he does not thoroughly repel. He still brings out the crowds, generating excitement like no former president since Teddy Roosevelt. No other ex-president has ever been such an inexhaustible ham. What is more, no white politician has ever developed a stronger hold on the loyalties of African-American voters than Bill Clinton.

Hillary's appeal, by contrast, is almost metaphysical. She represents the transcendent dreams of the feminist, the gay rights advocates, the eco-activist. But she also connects with the murky dreams of millions of suburban women who quietly enter the ballot booth and assert their independence from their family's party affiliation. But there are other levers, the most important of which is the lever releasing the quantities of money.

Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrell, p. 21-22 , Feb 25, 2004

OpEd: Denied problem of father's alcoholism

One can draw an interesting parallel between Reagan and Clinton. It serves as an example of how two presidents, both ACOAs, adult children of an alcoholics, can be perceived in strikingly different terms. It is my contention that the difference between the two exists because of the different ways alcoholism was addressed within each of their families. Reagan's mother dealt directly with his father's alcoholism. In the case of Clinton, denial of the problem and of anything unpleasant was the means by which the alcoholism was avoided. One cannot use the various forms of denial frequently without being perceived as inconsistent.

Reagan did not repeatedly demonstrate the effects of his background as an ACOA. Clinton, on the other hand, did.

The discrepancies in Clinton's statements are the clearest examples of such behavior. Clinton frequently exhibits the process of denial and automatic lying.

Source: The Dysfunctional President, by Paul Fick, p. 37&109 , Jun 1, 2000

OpEd: Clinton's love goes hand-in-hand with abuse

Dick Morris helped orchestrate Clinton's rise in Arkansas politics going back to 1977. Morris had come to realize that the dynamic on the relationship included periods in which Clinton showered love, punctuated by periods of intense abuse.

A defining moment in Morris's understanding of Clinton's personality dated back to the 1990 governor's race. Clinton felt Morris was neglecting him and his campaign. "You're screwing me!" Clinton shouted at Morris. Morris stormed out.

Hillary then walked Morris around the grounds and apologized on her husband's behalf. She made three points--forgive him, he didn't mean it and he needs you. She offered Morris a telling explanation for Clinton's behavior. "He only does that to people he loves," she said. In other words, the love went hand in hand with the abuse. You buy in for one, you get the other. Morris was not sure whether abuse was a form of love or how they fit together, but taking the abuse was certainly the price of admission to Clinton's inner circle.

Source: Shadow, by Bob Woodward, p.331-332 , Jun 15, 1999

OpEd: Rise to power epitomizes the American dream

Although President Bill Clinton and I obviously differ greatly on political issues, in many ways the president represents what Republicans promote in their public policy: self-determination, setting goals, and overcoming adversity on your own.

Young Bill Clinton was poor and disadvantaged; but from the time he was young, he was focused like a laser on becoming president of the US. It's what he wanted; it's what he worked for and sacrificed for, and through the years he managed to remove all the barriers to his goal. While there are 260 million Americans who can say whatever they want about him, he'll sleep in the White House tonight and the rest of us won't. In that way, Bill Clinton's rise to success epitomizes the American dream.

Source: Character IS the Issue, by Mike Huckabee, p.125-126 , Sep 9, 1997

Attended Yale on a law school scholarship

Bill Clinton at Yale was a long-haired, bearded Rhodes Scholar. Although he had been fortunate enough to be chosen for one of Yale's few law school scholarships, the money was nowhere near enough to cover even the most meager costs of living. To meet expenses he was forced to hold as many as three part-time jobs at once. In the course of his years at Yale, he taught at a small community college, staffed for a city councilman in Hartford, and worked for a lawyer in downtown New Haven.

Like Hillary, he had clearly not come to law school to prepare for a career on Wall Street. Politics was his destiny. During his first three months of law school, he worked full-time on a political campaign, only starting to study for his classes after the November election. He then amazed his worried friends by acing all his finals.

Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p. 47 , Aug 1, 1993


Bill Clinton on Political Philosophy

I should be the favorite of the Tea Party!

Q: You balanced the budget and cut the size of the government. How come you're not a hero of the Tea Party?

A: I thought I should've been their favorite politician. I think because I didn't do it according to the ideology. I raised taxes and cut spending. I did it with a mix of policies that also left us money to invest in our future and in our quality of life.

Source: Time Magazine on "Back To Work" book tour by Bill Clinton , Jan 21, 2011

Don't go to sleep with an unanswered negative out there

It's important for candidates to answer every negative attack ad their opponents run against them. If a candidate doesn't answer an attention-getting ad, the public has to assume it's true. Voters look to the candidates themselves for answers--to "say it ain't so, Joe," and give them the truth.

Bill Clinton's political career thrived because he lived by one rule: "Don't go to sleep with an unanswered negative out there. Always, always answer!" Clinton's ability to parry negatives--right down to surviving a presidential impeachment--was largely due to his speed in answering attacks and his inventiveness in discrediting his attackers. It's like the old political saying: Deny the allegation--and then shoot the alligator!

The key to answering an attack quickly & effectively is to anticipate the attack before it's made. It takes time to dig up the kinds of old records that can disprove an attack. So all candidates must do their own negative research--not just on their opponents, but on themselves

Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p.286-287 , Apr 13, 2010

OpEd: Triangulation worked but set up defeat in 2000

As an anti-party president, Clinton weakened his own capacity to deliver--and strengthened the opposition party by becoming reliant on its votes, its ideology, or both. Triangulation may have helped Clinton personally, but by disparaging his own party and its core worldview, Clinton's strategy helped set up the Democrats for a defeat in 2000, a year of peace and prosperity that should have produced a strong Democratic win. Like Typhoid Mary, Clinton survived while infecting his community. As an anti-party president, Clinton weakened his own capacity to deliver--and strengthened the opposition party by becoming reliant on its votes, its ideology, or both. Triangulation may have helped Clinton personally, but by disparaging his own party and its core worldview, Clinton's strategy helped set up the Democrats for a defeat in 2000, a year of peace and prosperity that should have produced a strong Democratic win. Like Typhoid Mary, Clinton survived while infecting his community.
Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p.193 , Aug 25, 2008

Self-styled ‘New Democrat’ to separate himself from liberals

Bill shrewdly styled himself as a ‘New Democrat’ who could broaden his appeal to include independent voters and Republican moderates by shifting away from the Democratic liberal orthodoxy that has consistently lost elections. He advocated ideological flexibility and a smaller but more open government that would provide opportunity for those who assumed responsibility.
Source: For Love of Politics, by Sally Bedell Smith, p. 5. , Oct 23, 2007

You can't win talking just to people who agree with you

"You can't win," Clinton said, "talking just to people who agree with you." You have to meet the arguments of people who start out on the other side.

When Bill Clinton got in trouble, I did my best to defend him. I thought the Republicans were going way too far, but mostly because in Boston that's what's known as loyalty. When a friend is in the right, it isn't a matter of loyalty to support him. That's easy. It's when somebody screws up that they need their friends. That's when loyalty kicks in.

Source: The Case for Hillary Clinton, by Susan Estrich, p. 2-3 & 7 , Oct 11, 2005

Developed the New Democrat Philosophy for 1992 campaign

By the end of 1986, I had formed some basic convictions about the nature of the modern world, which was later developed into the so-called New Democrat philosophy that was the backbone of my 1992 campaign for President. These are the new rules that I believe should provide the framework within which we make policy today:
  1. Change may be the only constant in today’s American economy
  2. [Human capital] is probably more important than physical capital now.
  3. A more constructive partnership between business and government is far more important than the dominance of either.
  4. As we try to solve problems which arise out of the internationalization of American life and the changes in our own population, cooperation in every area is far more important than conflict. We have to share responsibilities and opportunities--we’re going up or down together.
  5. Waste is going to be punished [especially corporate debt].
  6. A strong America requires a resurgent sense of community.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.326-7 , Jun 21, 2004

Regained popularity via "triangulation" with GOP Congress

Dick Morris, before his reincarnation as a television political analyst, was the political wizard who rescued the Clintons from the policy disasters and faux pas of their first term in the White House, just as he had rescued them from the similar disasters of Bill's first term in the Arkansas governor's mansion. After Republicans captured both houses of Congress, causing woebegone President Clinton to protest that he remained "relevant," it was Morris who coached Clinton in asserting managerial ambivalence ("Triangulation" is the esoteric term they applied to it) and thereby regaining his popularity with contented voters.
Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrell, p. 73 , Feb 25, 2004

DLC echoed in U.K. by Tony Blair's "Third Way"

Tony Blair was trying to devise alternatives to traditional liberal rhetoric, assumptions and positions in the hope of finding ways to advance economic growth, individual empowerment and social justice in the global informative age.

Whether you call it New Democrats, New Labour, the Third Way or the Vital Center, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton clearly shared a political vision. But the question confronting each of them was how to invigorate a progressive movement that had lost steam through much of the 1970s and 1980s, giving rise to Reaganism in the US and Thatcherism in Britain.

Shocked by the margin of their party's losses in 1964, several Republican multimillionaires embarked on a strategy to seed conservative, even right-wing political philosophy, and to develop and advance specific policies to further it. They funded think tanks, endowed professorships and seminars and developed media channels for communicating ideas and opinions.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p. 423 , Nov 1, 2003

Recruited in 1989 as chair of Democratic Leadership Council

I'd first met Clinton at a meeting of the Democratic Leadership Council in 1989. We were introduced by Al From, the president of the DLC, who hooked a thumb in Clinton's direction and said, "This guy delivers our message better than any other politician. The Democratic Leadership Council had been formed in 1985, as a moderate, mostly Southern response to the leftward rush--and attendant electoral failures--of the Democratic Party since the 1960s. The group was derided as the "Southern White Boys," or, in Jesse Jackson's phrase, "Democrats for the Leisure Class."

Al From believed that the only way to reinvigorate the Democratic Party was to reinvent liberalism; he was very much in the market for new ideas and new leaders. In 1989, the Democratic Leadership Council launched a small think tank called the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI). This turned out to be Al From's second most important initiative that year: The first was to recruit Bill Clinton to become the chairman of the DLC.

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p. 28-29 , Feb 11, 2003

Third Way Principles: opportunity, responsibility, community

In his 1998 State of the Union speech, he recited the three principles of The Third Way: opportunity, responsibility and community--words that Clinton had made the slogan of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council when he became its chairman in 1991. Ever since, politicians from Tony Blair in England to George W. Bush has used the same words to win elections; by 1998, however, the formulation was beginning to seem hackneyed. He made a last attempt to summarize his governing philosophy, offering a three-point "strategy for prosperity: fiscal discipline to cut interest rates and spur growth; investments in education and skills to prepare our people for the new economy; new markets for American products and American workers."

There was no applause The words were too abstract; there was nothing stirring or controversial about them. The Third Way--which challenged both liberal and conservative orthodoxies--could sound like Everyone's Way when massaged into platitudes by a decent speechwriter.

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p. 17-18 , Feb 11, 2003

New Democrat from the New South

The Governor of Arkansas is on his way to Washington to become the 42nd president of the United States. His own bus bears the license plate HOPE 1, after the small town where he was born in southwestern Arkansas. A reportedly prodigal young governor, wha he calls a New Democrat from the New South, he is the first of his party to win the White House in a dozen years and, at 46, the 3rd-youngest chief executive in American history. He is not alone, just as he has never been alone in an unswerving 20-year political career since law school. At his side is the woman who has been there from the beginning, 18 years as his wife. A year younger than the new president, Hillary brings her own vivid history to this moment. If the new president carries hope, so does she, the symbol of a matured liberation and equality of women. For now at least, on the eve of her husband’s inauguration, she promises to become the most powerful and significant First Lady in American history.
Source: Partners in Power, by Roger Morris, p. 1-2 , Apr 25, 1999

1986 initiative: Good beginnings, Good schools, & Good jobs

Bill Clinton had successfully reinvented himself as Boy Wonder, and in November 1986 he again beat Frank White to win the state's first four-year term as governor. In his inaugural speech, he presented a comprehensive set of initiatives for "Making Arkansas Work--Good Beginning, Good Schools, and Good Jobs." Hard economic times and slumping tax revenues might once have suggested cutting back on education and human development spending, he said. "But that will not work today. In our highly integrated, highly competitive world economy, either we press ahead or we are pushed back. There is no status quo." It was a brilliant speech, delivered well. Time and again he was interrupted by applause.
Source: Friends in High Places, by Webb Hubbell, p.129 , Nov 1, 1997

Character isn't the issue

Responding to questions regarding his personal character, Bill Clinton once told his audience, "Character isn't the issue." Yet our character defines the world we live in. Our government, welfare programs, schools, & everything else in our lives are shaped & directed according to our character. It's commonly said that "you can't legislate morality," but, in fact, every law in the country is a reflection of our moral values. Over the past 30 years, a decline in moral character has produced a decline in the character of our society. Everything hinges on the men & women we choose to establish public policy. And their character depends on you. There IS something you can do: you can live a God-centered life of high moral character, and you can support candidates who share your Christian standards.

Character is the issue, and your character makes a difference every day--in the work you do, the people you vote for, the people you look to for leadership.

Source: Character IS the Issue, by Mike Huckabee, p. 1-2 , Sep 9, 1997

America stands today between hope and history

When I visited Ireland last year, I met with Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Prize-winning poet, a man who has chronicled Ireland’s long struggle and his own fight against cynicism and defeat. I was particularly moved by some words he had written, which I quoted in my speeches to the Irish people. Later, he was kind enough to write them out for me. That piece of paper now hangs in my study at the White House, and I look at it often. One line always leaps out at me-the moment when “hope and history rhyme.“

I believe that America today stands between hope and history-at the edge of a moment when these two powerful forces are as one, when we can embrace the dawn of the new century, drawing strength and guidance from our past, filled with confidence that in this new age of possibility, our best is yet to come.

Source: Between Hope and History, by Bill Clinton, p.175 , Jan 1, 1996

New Covenant: responsibility, citizenship, opportunity

We all gain when we give. We reap whatever we sow. That’s at the heart of the New Covenant: Responsibility. Citizenship. Opportunity. They are the virtues by which we can fulfill ourselves and our God-given potential-the virtues by which we can live out the eternal promise of America, the enduring dream of that first and most sacred covenant: ‘that all men are created equal.’

We need to forge a New Covenant that will repair the damaged bond between the people and the government and restore our basic values-the notion that our country has a responsibility to help people get ahead. That citizens have not only the right but a responsibility to rise as far and as high as their talents and determination can take them, and that we’re all in this together.

Make no mistake: This New Covenant means change-change in our party, change in our national leadership, and change in our country. People have lost faith in the ability of government to change their lives for the better.

Source: Clinton on Clinton, p. 65&156, State of the Union speech , Jan 24, 1995

New Covenant: Opportunity and responsibility go hand in hand

Tonight we must forge a new social compact to meet the challenges of this time. As we enter a new era, we need a new set of understandings, not just with Government but, even more important, with one another as Americans.

I call it the New Covenant. But it's grounded in a very old idea, that all Americans have not just a right but a solemn responsibility to rise as far as their God-given talents and determination can take them and to give something back in return. Opportunity and responsibility: They go hand in hand. We can't have one without the other. And our national community can't hold together without both.

Our New Covenant is a new set of understandings for how we can equip our people to meet the challenges of a new economy, how we can change the way our Government works to fit a different time, and, above all, how we can repair the damaged bonds in our society and come together behind our common purpose. We must have dramatic change in our economy, our Government, and ourselves.

Source: Pres. Clinton's 1995 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 24, 1995

Hope and opportunity: broad themes for presidency

Clinton arranged to have his entire cabinet and senior White House staff gather at Camp David for their retreat the weekend of January 30-31. "We've lost track of why we ran," Clinton said.

Clinton turned to some of the broad themes for his presidency. He spoke of hope and opportunity, and the difference between them: Opportunity, he said, was an objective reality. Hope was the faith that things could be better. FDR created hope long before he created opportunity. Clinton talked about "making change our friend." He reminded everyone that things were worse than he had thought before taking office, that the American people had been misled, and that the economic situation had deteriorated. He wanted to keep faith with the middle class. "It's scary to be a little person," he said someone had told him in the line at the White House. But more important, he said, "the eyes of our children are upon us." If we do our jobs, and reform health care, he said, "We'll return to office."

Source: The Agenda, by Bob Woodward, p.108-109 , Jun 6, 1994

1991: Led "New Democrats" who rejected liberal orthodoxy

On May 13, 1991, Clinton visited Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, with some ideas. He had been formulating what he felt was a powerful critique of the economics and the values of President Reagan and Bush. Too many feared for their jobs, their health care, the educational opportunities of their children, their retirement.

Though not well known on the national stage, Clinton was a leader in a movement of self-styled "New Democrats" who rejected the party's liberal orthodoxy. Mostly Southerners, they were trying to convince the middle class that the Democratic Party could be strong on foreign and defense policy, moderate in social policy, and disciplined in spending tax money and taming runaway government. While retaining the ideals of the New Deal and the Great Society, New Democrats sought more efficient activism. Clinton had been traveling the country saying that these ideals were neither liberal nor conservative, but both, and different. He cast his ideas in the loftiest terms.

Source: The Agenda, by Bob Woodward, p. 19 , Jun 6, 1994

Time for a change from the last 12 years

Q: What do you believe is the single most important separating issue of this campaign?

CLINTON: The most important distinction in this campaign is that I represent real hope for change: a departure from trickle-down economics, a departure from tax-and-spend economics, to invest and grow. But before I can do that I must challenge the American people to change, and they must decide. Tonight I say to the President: Mr. Bush, for 12 years you've had it your way. You've had your chance, and it didn't work. It's time to change. I want to bring that change to the American people, but we must all decide first we have the courage to change for hope and a better tomorrow.

BUSH: I think one thing that distinguishes is experience. Change for change's sake isn't enough. We saw that message in the late seventies when we heard a lot about change. And what happened? That "misery index" went right through the roof.

Source: The First Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential Debate , Oct 11, 1992


Bill Clinton on Post-Presidential Legacy

Greatest legacy: set standard for connecting with electorate

Compared with many other contemporary political leaders of his time (such as Al Gore and Bob Dole in the USA), the others were often regarded as stiff and a little uncomfortable when facing various audiences. Emotion was lacking. Clinton also pioneered the use of technology and the internet to raise funds and to communicate with people in his election campaigns, a technique that has been taken much further by other politicians in the 21st century, notably Barack Obama. In fact, other leaders, including the UK's Tony Blair and the USA's Barack Obama, owe much to Clinton's natural style. Without doubt, one of Clinton's greatest legacies was the standard he set for connecting with the electorate and communicating clearly, in a way that supports strong, reassuring leadership. He ended his inaugural speech with poetic language and people drew huge strength from his allusions to the scriptures."
Source: The 100 Greatest Speeches, by Kourdi & Maier, p. 64 , Mar 3, 2010

Why Harlem? "We won't let anything happen to that man"

After Clinton left the presidency, "Anywhere he went, he shook hands; he'd go out of his way to shake the hand of a worker," says a Secret Service agent. "On a tarmac, he's walking around a plane to shake the hand of a worker. Or going through the hotel' restaurant, he's in the back in the kitchen shaking people's hands and taking pictures."

Clinton's office is in Harlem, where a woman on the street told the agent, "Honey, you can take the day off. We're not going to let anything happen to that man."

Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by Ronald Kessler, p.171 , Jun 29, 2009

Opens post-Presidential office in Harlem

In front of the building [in Harlem in which he will set up his post-Presidential office], Mr. Clinton said that “I feel wonderful about it” and “I hope we can work the lease out in the details.” Mr. Clinton said that Harlem had long held a special attraction for him, first when he was a university student in England and then later when he became president. The building, which may be the best privately owned office building in Harlem, is in an economic empowerment zone that Mr. Clinton helped create in his first term. Aides have added that Mr. Clinton is also grateful that African-Americans stood by him in the bleakest moments of his presidency.

Should Mr. Clinton eventually settle on office space in Harlem, it would settle the storm of criticism that has followed him since he first planned to move into the 56th floor of [a midtown office tower]. The lease for that space was estimated from $738,700 to $811,000 a year. The asking annual rent for the 14th floor in Harlem would be $210,000

Source: NY Times, p. A22 , Feb 13, 2001

Turns over reins of leadership with America at its strongest

I’m very grateful to be able to turn over the reins of leadership with America in such a strong position to meet the challenges of the future.
Source: President Clinton’s farewell address , Jan 18, 2001


Bill Clinton on Previous Campaigns

1990: opponent's ad repeated Bill stating "raise and spend"

When Clinton ran for governor in 1990, his opponent, Sheffield Nelson, took a tape of Bill's own voice saying "raise & spend" and put it in a negative ad: "What did Bill Clinton do to us in 1983?" the ad asked. "'Raise & spend.' And in 1987? 'Raise & spend.' And if we give him another term what will he do? 'Raise & spend.'" Clinton's vote share tanked.

Clinton's reply: "Here's what I actually said to the legislature. 'Unlike our friends in Washington, we can't write a check on an account that is overdrawn. Either we raise and spend or we don't spend.' All I was doing was fighting for a balanced budget. But Nelson went to work and cut out the words 'raise and spend' from my speech to give you the wrong impression." Clinton regained the lead and won.

See what Clinton did? He didn't deny that he'd raised taxes twice before. (He had.) He didn't say he wasn't going to raise them if he got reelected. (He did.) What he did was dismantle Nelson's gimmick, discrediting the attack--and the attacker!

Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p.289-290 , Apr 13, 2010

GOP lost when they put faith voter out of way in '92 & '96

In 1980, the "Christian right" became an army of citizens that was instrumental in motivating an entirely new constituency to support and help elect Ronald Reagan as the 40th president. I remember when Ronald Reagan embraced these spiritual leaders well known within the community of faith but largely unknown by the general public and told them, "I'm not here for you to endorse me; I'm here to endorse YOU." In the elections since 1980, when this constituency was energized and turned loose, they made the difference in elections. When they were discouraged or driven to the sidelines, elections were lost.

The energy of this group of voters made the difference for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, and for George Bush in 1988. In 1992 and 1996, when the GOP somewhat put us back in the attic and out of the way, we lost. In 2000 and in 2004, the faith community was again activated, and I believe it provided the votes that put the GOP back in the White House.

Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p. 52-53 , Nov 18, 2008

Spend retirement giving; politics is a "getting" business

When I left the White House, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life giving my time, money, and skills to worthwhile endeavors where I could make a difference. I didn't know exactly what I would do, but I wanted to help save lives, solve important problems, and give more young people the chance to live their dreams. I felt obligated to do it because of the wonderful, improbable life I'd been given by the American people and because politics, which consumed so much of my life, is a "getting" business. You have to get support, contributions, and votes, over and over again. If you serve well, it's probably a fair trade, but no sensible person can do it as long as I did without thinking you still have to give more to balance the scales. Besides, I thought I'd enjoy it.
Source: Giving, by Bill Clinton, p. ix , Sep 4, 2007

Founded “New Democrat” message in 1980 Convention speech

At the 1980 Democratic convention in New York, Bill was chosen by the Democratic governors to deliver a prime-time speech as their representative. [Bill said in his speech that] the time had come to find “more creative and realistic” solutions than the old Democratic coalition had been recycling for two generations.
“We were brought up to believe, uncritically, without thinking about it, that our system broke down in the Great Depression, and was reconstructed in the New Deal and WWII, and would never break down again. But the hard truth is that for ten long years through Democratic and Republican administrations alike, this economic system has been breaking down. We have seen high inflation, high unemployment, large government deficits, the loss of our competitive edge.“
That synthesis would be the foundation of the ”New Democrat“ movement in politics that Bill Clinton would come to symbolize over the next ten years.
Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p.158-159 , Jun 5, 2007

1987: Declined chance to run; some say due to affairs

[In the wake of Gary Hart’s withdrawal from the 1988 presidential race, due to an affair, Bill Clinton became the subject of presidential speculation.] An advisor reviewed names to evaluate which women were most likely to seek out the press, and the advisor said that it would be disastrous to declare his candidacy. Hillary wrote many years afterward that Bill was still undecided the day before his announcement. The next day, Bill announced he would not be a candidate in 1988.

Bill would later say of the decision, “Finally I felt as though the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I was free to be a father, husband, and governor and to work and speak on national issues unencumbered by immediate ambitions.”

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p.179-180 , Jun 5, 2007

1980: Became youngest ex-governor in US history

One of the big surprise losers of 1980 was the young governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton. No one had thought he was vulnerable, but he raised fees on the state car tags, and Carter put him in a terrible position by reneging on a promise not to send more Cuban refugees to Arkansas. Clinton was still looking shell-shocked that December and nobody was quite sure he would be able to overcome the tough loss, which made him the youngest ex-governor in US history. How's that for a distinction?
Source: What A Party!, by Terry McAuliffe, p. 35 , Jan 23, 2007

1996: Legislative alliance with GOP Senate Leader Trent Lott

In 1996, Bill Clinton hired Dick Morris as his reelection campaign strategist. "I can tell you what one of your biggest problems is," Morris said of Clinton; "You're not getting enough done. And the public is aware of that. But I have a plan." Morris's plan centered on two unlikely partners: me and Bill Clinton.

What Morris proposed was a highly unusual alliance between the president of the US and the majority leader of the opposing party, with himself serving as clandestine intermediary. It may have been unique in the history of American politics.

Morris's plan was stunning in its audacity. He wanted me to forge a working relationship with Bill Clinton to enact a series of landmark bills. As Morris pointed out, both the Republican Senate Conference and Clinton would benefit from a series of legislative coups. Morris embraced my suggestions for major welfare reform, a balanced budget act, that would include Medicare cuts, and immigration reform.

Source: Herding Cats, by Trent Lott, p.130-131 , Aug 29, 2006

Bush believes in his way, but history favors Clinton’s

I thought about the note to President Bush I would write and leave behind in the Oval Office, just as his father had done for me eight years earlier. I wanted to be gracious and encouraging, as George Bush had been to me. Soon George W. Bush would be President of all the people, and I wished him well. I had paid close attention to what Bush and Cheney had said in the campaign. I knew they saw the world very differently from the way I did and would want to undo much of what I had done, especially on economic policy and the environment. But those were not my calls to make anymore. I had watched the Washington Republicans for eight years and imagined that President Bush would, from the outset of his term, be under pressure to abandon compassionate conservatism by the more right-wing leaders and interest groups now in control of his party. They believed in their way as deeply as I believed in mine, but I thought the evidence, and the weight of history, favored our side.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.951 , Jun 21, 2004

Key to 1992 success was timing of entry into race

"The most brilliant decision the Clintons ever made was to get into the 1992 race when they did," says a major national political correspondent. "In 1991, candidates stayed out of it, thinking that [the first] President Bush was unbeatable. The Clintons shrewdly picked a time to run when the [Democratic] field was open. She was the one who told Bill, 'You can take this guy. You've got to go now.' "

After deciding to launch Bill toward the presidency in 1991, Hillary made another shrewd decision in 1999. Hillary decided to run for the Senate, and not from Arkansas, but from New York, where big media and big money come together. 4 years later, Senator Hillary was surrounded by people telling her the same things she had once told Bill, things like , "The second Pres. Bush is another paper tiger." They reminded her that Gore beat Bush by 539,947 votes in the popular tally. Bush, they said, is suffering from jobless recovery syndrome and Iraqi fever. In short, "Hillary, go for it!"

Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrell, p. 7-8 , Feb 25, 2004

OpEd: 1994 loss resulted in adoption of GOP rhetoric

Our two political parties are increasingly polarized on cultural issues and the Republican electoral victory of 1994 surely reflected dissatisfaction with the degenerate culture liberals have made. Clinton's subsequent adoption of Republican rhetoric and policies as his own, however insincere, is another sign that a conservative cultural & political revival is probably underway. It is quite possible, however, that the party of cultural conservatism will be defeated by the public appetite for entitlements and benefits.

But it is well to remember the limits of politics. The political nation is not the same as the cultural nation; the two have different leaders and very different views of the world. Even when conservative political leaders have the votes, liberal cultural leaders operate and exercise influence where votes do not count. Institutions that are overwhelmingly left-liberal (89% of journalists voted for Bill Clinton in 1992) will continue to misinform the public and distort public discourse.

Source: Slouching Towards Gomorrah, by Robert Bork, p.338-339 , Dec 16, 2003

OpEd: 1992 election represented moral & cultural sea change?

Clinton epitomizes the leading edge of the trends this book has discussed. The London Spectator, shortly after the 1992 presidential election, saw the election result as representing a moral and cultural sea change in the US:

"The election of Clinton i nothing less than a cultural revolution. America of the Baby Boomers is a radically different place from the American of their parents. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that a large part of the American people have turned their backs on that old-fashioned quality: Virtue--private and public Virtue."

Thirty years ago, Clinton's behavior would have been absolutely disqualifying. Since the 1992 election, the public has learned far more about what is known, euphemistically, as the "character issue." Yet, none of this appears to affect Clinton's popularity. It is difficult not to conclude that something about our moral perceptions and reactions has changed profoundly. If that change is permanent, the implications for our future are bleak.

Source: Slouching Towards Gomorrah, by Robert Bork, p.341 , Dec 16, 2003

Nominated Dukakis at 1988 Convention; turned into fiasco

Although Bill decided not to run in 1988, the nominee, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, asked him to give the nominating speech at the Democratic Convention in Atlanta. It turned into a fiasco. Dukakis and his staff had reviewed and approved every word of Bill’s text ahead of time, but the speech was longer than the delegates or the television networks expected. Some delegates on the floor began yelling at Bill to finish. This was a humiliating introduction to the nation, and many observers assumed Bill’s political future was over. Eight days later, though, he was on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, making fun of himself and playing his saxophone. Yet another comeback.
Source: Living History, by Hillary Clinton, p. 98 , Nov 1, 2003

Worked for Joe Lieberman's Senate campaign in 1970s

[During Monicagate], Joe Lieberman admonished him publicly. Lieberman, who had been a friend since Bill had worked on his first campaign for the Connecticut state senate in the early 70s, took to the Senate floor to denounce the President's conduct as immoral and harmful because "it send as message of what is acceptable behavior to the larger American family."

When Bill was asked to respond to Lieberman's speech, he replied: "Basically I agree with what he said. I've already said that I made a bad mistake. It was indefensible, and I'm sorry about it. I'm very sorry about it."

It was the first of many unconditional public apologies my husband would make on his long journey of atonement. But I realized that apologies would never be enough for hardcore Republicans and might not be enough to avert a meltdown within the Democratic Party. Other Democratic leaders condemned the President's personal actions and said he should in some way be held accountable. None, however, advocated impeachment.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.473 , Nov 1, 2003

Employed Dick Morris for gubernatorial & presidential races

Bill and I considered Dick Morris a creative pollster and a brilliant strategist, but he came with serious baggage. First of all, he had no compunction about working both sides of the aisle and all sides of an issue. Although he had helped Bill win five gubernatorial races, he also worked for conservative Republican Senators.

Morris's specialty was identifying the swing voters who seesawed between the two parties. His advice was sometimes off-the-wall; you had to sift through it to extract the useful insights and ideas. And he had the people skills of a porcupine. Nonetheless, I thought Morris's analysis might be instructive, if we could involve him carefully and quietly. With his skeptical views about politics and people, Morris served as a counterweight to the ever optimistic Bill Clinton. Where Bill saw a silver lining in every cloud, Morris saw thunderstorms.

Starting in 1978, Morris worked for Bill on all his gubernatorial campaigns except the one he lost in 1980.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.251 , Nov 1, 2003

1992 staff called him "The Natural" after Redford movie

The Clinton campaign appeared to exist entirely, and very comfortable, within the grammar of popular culture--a cross between a disaster movie and a country music song. The governor roused his languishing campaign by playing the saxophone on Arsenio Hall's television program: he distanced himself from Jesse Jackson by attacking a rap singer named Sister Souljah; his wife compared herself to Tammy Wynette. He traveled by bus. His staff called him Elvis--and, more privately, "The Natural," after the character played by Robert Redford in the film adaptation of Bernard Malamud's baseball novel. He was, quoting the film, "the best there ever was." It was all great fun, and the distant, patrician President George Bush provided a perfect foil.
Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p. 41-42 , Feb 11, 2003

1992: opponents failed to find disloyalty in Bill in Moscow

Bill Clinton’s ties to the intelligence community go back all the way to Oxford and come forward from there, says a former government official who claims to have seen files long since destroyed. The subject of sharply varying accounts, the future president’s final months in England were indeed shrouded in some mystery and in inconsistencies never explained--though the very polarity of the suspicions and allegations seem only to obscure what really happened.

Republican aides rifled passport file in vain for some evidence of Clinton disloyalty while abroad. Trailing in October, George Bush himself tried almost pathetically to impute something subversively, unpatriotically sinister to Clinton’s 1969-70 trip to Moscow or his role in antiwar rallies demanding that Clinton tell voters “how many demonstrations he led against his own country from a foreign soil.” [Others claimed that Bill Clinton] was a full-fledged CIA “asset,” who informed on his American friends in the peace movement in Britain.

Source: Partners in Power, by Roger Morris, p.102-103 , Apr 25, 1999

1987: Delayed presidential run to get their house in order

In Sep. 1987, Bill Clinton declined to run for the presidency. He said it was because of Chelsea--that she was too young to be left behind while her parents went off to campaign.

But the talk was of something less noble. Sen. Gary Hart had seen his political career derailed when he was caught in an affair with a young woman. The rumors about Bill had been rampant for years--he was a man with an appetite, people said.

I never asked Bill or Hillary about the truth of those rumors. I knew both of them too well to ask. Bill and I never once talked about the rumors until after he was elected President. Hillary never came to me and said, "Bill and I are having trouble."

But what I think was happening was that Bill & Hillary had decided that before a presidential run, they had to get their house in order--in whatever ways it needed ordering. Something she said later also seemed to shed light on Bill's decision not to run. One day, I overheard Hillary say, "We've got to straighten up Whitewater."

Source: Friends in High Places, by Webb Hubbell, p.136-137 , Nov 1, 1997

1991: Torn by promise not to run for president

Bill wasn't sure he could even run for the President. Arkansans are touchy about being used, and everybody knew Bill really wanted to be President. To head off such speculation, he foolishly promised during the gubernatorial campaign that if they elected him governor, he would serve out his four-year term. It was the classic catch-22: He had to be governor to run for President, but he couldn't be governor unless he promised not to run for President. He was torn as only he can be. Around this time I was part of a series of strategy meetings being held at the Governor's Mansion, where most of the discussion centered around what had become known as the Pledge--his promise not to run for President if elected governor. I didn't even think he should run in 1992, but my reasons weren't so much about the pledge as George Bush's perceived invulnerability. He asked me once, and I advised him against it. I thought Bush was too formidable.
Source: Friends in High Places, by Webb Hubbell, p.154 , Nov 1, 1997

1991: Urged by AR Sen. David Pryor to run for president

The moment I knew Bill was going to run was during a trip the two of us made to Vince's father's funeral. It was the summer of 1991. During the funeral service, we were settled on the same pew as Senator David Pryor. Hillary, who had been driven down, was sitting between Pryor and Bill, and I was on Bill's other side. Sometime during the service, I saw Pryor lean over and hand Bill a folded piece of paper. Bill unfolded it and read the message. Then he handed the paper to me. Pryor, the most revered politician in Arkansas, had scribbled a single word" "RUN."

On the way home, Bill was upbeat, excited energized. Pryor's advice carried a lot of weight. They had talked following the service, and the senator had told Bill, "The ones who love you will be with you, anyway. The ones who are against you won't change their minds. Bush is vulnerable. This is the time."

Source: Friends in High Places, by Webb Hubbell, p.154-155 , Nov 1, 1997

OpEd: 1988 DNC speech fiasco was to not overshadow Dukakis

Bill Clinton's summer of discontent came in 1988, at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. Positioning himself for next time, he landed the job of introducing the Democratic candidate for President, Michael Dukakis.

It was a wonderful opportunity, and his friends gathered around their television sets to watch him dazzle a national audience. What we saw was the potential derailment of a brilliant career. A speech that was supposed to last 15 minutes droned on for 32 minutes. Bill Clinton was finally booed off the stage.

I later heard from someone who was there that Dukakis's staff was worried about the nominee being overshadowed by Clinton. They had already been upstaged by Jesse Jackson, so they encouraged the length of the speech and the failure of the dim lights. I have no idea whether or not that's true.

Fortunately, Bill had media-savvy friends who advised him to head off the crisis by poking fun at himself in a very public venue: Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.

Source: Friends in High Places, by Webb Hubbell, p.144-145 , Nov 1, 1997

First Arkansan to run for President; set AR turnout record

During the 1992 race, the Clinton Presidential race dominated media coverage that year. His national campaign headquarters was in Little Rock, which meant reporters from around the world were camped out there to cover the campaign. It was the first time an Arkansan had ever been a major party nominee for president, and voter turnout in the state was off the charts.
Source: Character IS the Issue, by Mike Huckabee, p. 59 , Sep 9, 1997

1988: Stayed neutral on Al Gore vs. Mike Dukakis primary

In 1987, when Gore was running for president, he had visited Clinton in Little Rock ostensibly to solicit the governor's endorsement, though his real purpose had been simply to keep Clinton from endorsing his fellow governor and friend Michael Dukakis. Gore had presented to Clinton what he considered a theory of the mutuality of their interests. When the histories of late 20th-century American politics were written, Gore believed, they would show that the only politicians capable of uniting the Democratic coalition were Southern moderates such as Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and, Gore argued, himself and Clinton. If Gore succeeded in his bid, Democrats would build on this pattern of success and turn to those like Clinton. Gore said that the two of them should regard themselves not as rivals or antagonists but as allies, working toward the same goals, able to succeed together. Gore sensed that Clinton shared his outlook. In the 1988 primaries, Clinton remained neutral.
Source: The Agenda, by Bob Woodward, p. 52-53 , Jun 6, 1994


Bill Clinton on Religion

Part of his “New Democrat” included religious Democrats

The Clinton strategy for 1992 was to run Bill as a “New Democrat,” a moderate Democrat. This was well planned: From 1990 to 1991, Bill chaired an important group called the Democratic Leadership Council, a collection of Democrats who understood that if their party was ever again to win the White House, they would need to stop running ultraliberals at the time of the ticket. There, he was joined by a onetime moderate, the pro-life senator from Tennessee, Al Gore.

A moderate Democrat must, of course, be a religious Democrat. Bill Clinton noted during the campaign that he was such a Democrat. “I pray virtually every day, usually at night, and I read the Bible every week,” he said. He added that he believed strongly in “old- fashioned things” like the “constancy of sin, the possibility of forgiveness, the reality of redemption.” While these words might sound hollow from some candidates, from Clinton they were in line with his long-established beliefs and life experiences.

Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p. 95 , Jul 18, 2007

Familiar with Bible & has genuine faith, say his pastors

Philip Wogaman became part of what became known as the “God Squad”--the trio of ministers that began counseling Bill during the intern scandal. He was joined by Tony Campolo and Gordon MacDonald.

In an interview for this book, Wogaman confirmed that Bill, not Hillary, was the impetus. Wogaman confirms that Bill, in addition to his regular church attendance, was meeting once a week with personal spiritual counselors.

Even before the Lewinsky scandal, Campolo says he and Clinton “would get together about once every five or six weeks for a couple of hours.“

Wogaman said they discussed how important faith is in forming our lives. The minister said that through these experiences, he learned that Clinton’s faith was genuine, though Wogaman did carefully concede that ”you can never entirely read into the heart of a person.“

In his first session with the God Squad, Bill opened his Bible and read his favorite passage from Isaiah. Wogaman perceived that Clinton was ”very familiar with the Bible.

Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p.171-173 , Jul 18, 2007

Learn from Creation what one must be

According to Ernest Becker [a philosopher who wrote The Denial of Death], as we grow up, at some point we become aware of death, then the fact that people we know and love die, then the fact that someday we, too, will die. Most of us do what we can to avoid it. Meanwhile, we embrace identities and the illusion of self-sufficiency. We pursue activities, both positive and negative, that we hope will lift us beyond the chains of ordinary existence and perhaps endure after we are gone. Whether we succeed or fail ,we are still going to die. The only solace, of course, is to believe that since we are created, there must be a Creator, one to whom we matter and will in some way return. Becker seemed to have met Immanuel Kant’s test of life : ‘How to occupy properly that place in creation that is assigned to man, and how to learn from it what one must be in order to be a man.’ I’ve spent a life time trying to do that. Becker’s book helped convince me it was an effort worth making.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.235 , Jun 21, 2004

Supports Hyde Park Declaration of "Third Way" centrism.

Clinton adopted the manifesto, "A New Politics for a New America":

As New Democrats, we believe in a Third Way that rejects the old left-right debate and affirms America’s basic bargain: opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and community of all.