Are you searching for a good topic for a history or political science research paper? Would you believe that Questia, your online research library and paper writing resource, contains more than 900 books and over 6,000 magazine, newspaper and journal articles on the impeachment of Bill Clinton?
Now, William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States (1993–2001), is a good topic for a history research paper all by himself. However, with Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer saying that potential action by President Barack Obama on immigration may be “an impeachable offense,” impeachment is a good topic for a political science research paper, too.
Presidency of Bill Clinton
In 1992, Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination after a primary campaign in which his character and private life were repeatedly questioned. With running mate Senator Al Gore of Tennessee, Clinton went on to win the election, garnering 43 percent of the national vote, defeating Republican incumbent George H. W. Bush and independent H. Ross Perot. Upon his election, he became the first president born after World War II to serve in the office and the first to lead the country in the post–cold war era.
In his first year in office, Clinton won passage of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the federal deficit. He also proposed major changes in the U.S. health-care system that ultimately would have provided health-insurance coverage to most Americans. Clinton was unable to overcome widespread opposition to changes in the health-care system, however, and in a major policy defeat, failed to win passage of his plan. After this failure, his proposed programs were never as sweeping. The president’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, played a more visibly active role in her husband’s first term than most first ladies; she was particularly prominent in his attempt to revamp the health-care system.
Clashes within the house
After the Democratic Party lost control of both houses of Congress in November 1994, in elections that were regarded as a strong rebuff to the president, Clinton appeared to have lost some of his political initiative. He was often criticized for vacillating on issues; at the same time, he was embroiled in conflict with sometimes radically conservative Republicans in Congress, whose goals in education, Medicare, and other areas often were at odds with his own.
In 1995 and 1996, congressional Republicans and Clinton clashed over budget and deficit-reduction priorities, leading to two partial federal government shutdowns. Perceived as the victor in those conflicts, Clinton regained some of his standing with the public. Allegations of improper activities by the Clintons relating to Whitewater persisted but were not proved, despite congressional and independent counsel investigations.
By 1996, Clinton had succeeded in characterizing the Republican agenda as extremist while himself adopting many aspects of it. Forced to compromise on such items as welfare reform in order to assure passage of any change, Republicans passed bills that often seemed as much part of the president’s program as their own. The welfare bill that he signed at the end of his term revolutionized the system, requiring that recipients work, while providing them with various subsidies to aid in the transition.
Victory for reelection
Clinton won renomination by his party unopposed in 1996. Benefiting from a basically healthy economy, he handily won reelection in November 1996, garnering 49 percent of the vote against Republican candidate Bob Dole and Reform party candidate Ross Perot, and became the first Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt to win two terms at the polls.
In 1997, Clinton and the Republicans agreed on a deal that combined tax cuts and reductions in spending to produce the first balanced federal budget in three decades. The president now seemed to have mastered the art of employing incremental, rather than large-scale, governmental action to effect change, leaving the Republicans, with their announced mandate for fundamental change, to appear extreme. Having taken the center, and with stock markets continuing to boom and unemployment low, Clinton enjoyed high popularity, presiding over an enormous national surge in prosperity and innovation.
At the beginning of 1998, however, ongoing investigations into his past actions engulfed him in the Lewinsky scandal, and for the rest of the year American politics were convulsed by the struggle between the president and his Republican accusers, which led to his impeachment on Dec. 19. He thus became the first president to be impeached since Andrew Johnson.
It was apparent, however, that much of the public, while fascinated by the scandal, held the impeachment drive to be partisan and irrelevant to national affairs. In January 1999, two impeachment counts were tried in the Senate, which on Feb. 12 acquitted Clinton. In the following year, U.S. domestic politics returned to something like normality.
What do you remember most about the Bill Clinton during his presidency? Let us know in the comments.