Clinton wins his first political race to become Attorney General of Arkansas.
Elected Governor of Arkansas, making him the youngest state governor in the U.S. at that time. He is defeated after just one term.
|1982:||Elected governor again, where he remained for five more consecutive terms.|
Clinton wins the presidential election after defeating George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot, running on a platform that stressed domestic issues, notably a sagging economy.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is ratified, allowing freer trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The midterm elections give the Republicans control of both the Senate and the House for the first time in 40 years, causing a fierce fight over the budget and resulting in a series of brief governmental shutdowns.
Clinton organizes the Dayton Peace Accords in Ohio, bringing a temporary cease-fire to the Balkan States."For the quickest descent into the ethical quagmire, the Clinton administration has set a new indoor record." --Howard Kurtz column, The Washington Post, March 26, 1995
Clinton is elected to a second term after defeating Bob Dole and Ralph Nader."America demands and deserves big things from us--and nothing big ever came from being small. Let us remember the timeless wisdom of Cardinal Bernardin, when facing the end of his own life. He said: 'It is wrong to waste the precious gift of time, on acrimony and division.'" --Second Inaugural Address of President Bill Clinton, January 20, 1997
On December 19, Clinton is impeached by the House of Representatives on the grounds of perjury, abuse of powers, and obstruction of justice regarding matters related to his affair with White House aide Monica Lewinsky.
In February, in a Senate vote basically along party lines, Clinton is spared impeachment.
|2000:||After protracted political wrangling by Clinton, China is accepted into the World Trade Organization, opening that vast market to goods from the U.S. and around the world.|
The William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation is created to help people around the world meet the challenges of global interdependence.
Clinton approaches the story of his youth with gusto, sharing tales of giant watermelons, nine-pound tumors, a charging ram, famous mobsters and jazz musicians, and a BB gun standoff. He offers an equally energetic portrait of American history, pop culture, and the evolving political landscape, covering the historical events that shaped his early years (namely the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK) and the events that shaped his presidency (Waco, Bosnia, Somalia). What makes My Life remarkable as a political memoir is how thoroughly it is infused with Clinton's unassuming, charmingly pithy voice:
I learned a lot from the stories my uncle, aunts, and grandparents told me: that no one is perfect but most people are good; that people can't be judged only by their worst or weakest moments; that harsh judgments can make hypocrites of us all; that a lot of life is just showing up and hanging on; that laughter is often the best, and sometimes the only, response to pain.
However, that same voice might tire readers as Clinton applies his penchant for minute details to a distractible laundry list of events, from his youth through the years of his presidency. Not wanting to forget a single detail that might help account for his actions, Clinton overdoes it--do we really need to know the name of his childhood barber? But when Clinton sticks to the meat of his story--recollections about Mother, his abusive stepfather, Hillary, the campaign trail, and Kenneth Starr--the veracity of emotion and Kitchen Confidential-type revelations about "what it is like to be President" make My Life impossible to put down.
To Clinton, "politics is a contact sport," and while he claims that My Life is not intended to make excuses or assign blame, it does portray him as a fighter whose strategy is to "take the first hit, then counterpunch as hard as I could." While My Life is primarily a stroll through Clinton's memories, it is also a scathing rebuke--a retaliation against his detractors, including Kenneth Starr, whose "mindless search for scandal" protected the guilty while "persecuting the innocent" and distracted his Administration from pressing international matters (including strikes on al Qaeda). Counterpunch indeed.
At its core, My Life is a charming and intriguing if flawed book by an equally intriguing and flawed man who had his worst failures and humiliations made public. Ultimately, the man who left office in the shadow of scandal offers an honest and open account of his life, allowing readers to witness his struggle to "drain the most out of every moment" while maintaining the character with which he was raised. It is a remarkably intimate, persuasive look at the boy he was, the President he became, and man he is today. --Daphne Durham
It shows us the progress of a remarkable American, who, through his own enormous energies and efforts, made the unlikely journey from Hope, Arkansas, to the White House--a journey fueled by an impassioned interest in the political process which manifested itself at every stage of his life: in college, working as an intern for Senator William Fulbright; at Oxford, becoming part of the Vietnam War protest movement; at Yale Law School, campaigning on the grassroots level for Democratic candidates; back in Arkansas, running for Congress, attorney general, and governor.
We see his career shaped by his resolute determination to improve the life of his fellow citizens, an unfaltering commitment to civil rights, and an exceptional understanding of the practicalities of political life.
We come to understand the emotional pressures of his youth--born after his father's death; caught in the dysfunctional relationship between his feisty, nurturing mother and his abusive stepfather, whom he never ceased to love and whose name he took; drawn to the brilliant, compelling Hillary Rodham, whom he was determined to marry; passionately devoted, from her infancy, to their daughter, Chelsea, and to the entire experience of fatherhood; slowly and painfully beginning to comprehend how his early denial of pain led him at times into damaging patterns of behavior.
President Clinton's book is also the fullest, most concretely detailed, most nuanced account of a presidency ever written--encompassing not only the high points and crises but the way the presidency actually works: the day-to-day bombardment of problems, personalities, conflicts, setbacks, achievements.
It is a testament to the positive impact on America and on the world of his work and his ideals.
It is the gripping account of a president under concerted and unrelenting assault orchestrated by his enemies on the Far Right, and how he survived and prevailed.
It is a treasury of moments caught alive, among them:
Here is the life of a great national and international figure, revealed with all his talents and contradictions, told openly, directly, in his own completely recognizable voice. A unique book by a unique American.
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