Bill Clinton William Jefferson Clinton  Term Paper

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 8
  • Subject: Government
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #94594795

Excerpt from Term Paper :

As a result, by the late 1980s, the job-creation rate in Arkansas was among the highest in the country.

During all this time, Clinton never left sight of his life-long ambition of getting to the highest political office in the country. He methodically prepared himself for the job by learning the ropes and by gradually assuming a number of national leadership roles, e.g., in 1985 and 1986 he served as chairman of the Southern Growth Policies Board, became chairman of the National Governors Association in 1986 and 1987, led a movement to change the nation's system of providing welfare to poor people, and headed the Democratic Leadership Council 1990 and 1991.

Risk Taking

Calculated risk-taking ability is one of the key characteristic of a successful leader. In 1990 / 91, the incumbent President, George H.W. Bush enjoyed very high approval ratings in the wake of the First Gulf War. Not many politicians were keen to risk their political careers by taking on the President in the upcoming 1992 Presidential elections. Bill Clinton believed that Bush was vulnerable despite the polls due to a weak economy and announced his intention to contest the elections. His lengthy tenure as the governor of Arkansas, chairmanship of the National Governor's Association as well as the leadership of the Democratic Leadership Council had enabled him to develop a network of friends and supporters in important places and he faced little difficulty in raising the required election funds. From then onwards, he ran a campaign which focused on domestic issues, particularly the economy.

It's the Economy, Stupid"

The famous sign "It's the economy, stupid" that adorned the Clinton campaign headquarters and was the primary slogan of his 1992 election campaign; it has since become almost a cliche. At the time, it signified the importance of the economy for the ordinary voter as well as the main thrust of Clinton's campaign strategy, with the candidate further promising the voters that he would concentrate "like a laser beam" on the economy.

Luckily, Clinton's leadership was not just about slogans and promises. He quickly identified two areas of the economy, which he would have to set right. His top priority would be to control the ballooning budget deficit as he realized that once the budget deficit was controlled, other benefits such as low inflation, reduced unemployment and higher economic growth due to availability of low-cost capital would follow. After being elected as the President, Clinton as he had promised indeed "focused like a laser beam" on reducing the budget deficit. In the very first year of office, he presented a balanced budget with a $500 billion price tag and managed to get it passed by the Congress even with every single Republican voting against it. (Fallows and others, 45-46). Balancing the budget proved to be the single biggest achievement of his presidency; one that enabled Clinton to preside over the longest period of economic growth in the country's history. According to Leon Panetta, his economic record with achievements such as "the first balanced federal budget in 30 years, the largest surplus ever, the most new jobs created under a single administration, the lowest unemployment in 30 years, the lowest inflation since the 1960s, the highest homeownership rate on record, the largest U.S. exports ever, the largest drop in poverty in nearly 30 years" reads like "Ripley's Believe it or Not" (Panetta).

Positioning Himself as the New Democrat

Before Clinton's election to the Presidency in 1992, the conservatives had turned the political tide almost decisively in their favor. Since the disastrous Presidency of Jimmy Carter, no Democratic candidate had been able to offer a credible challenge for the Presidency in the United States. Republicans had successfully destroyed the candidacies of Walter Mondale in 1984 and Michael Dukakis in 1988, when Democrats were portrayed as the party of high taxes and deficits, flag-burning protesters, and alternative lifestyles (Campbell and Rockman 259). In other developed countries of the world too, the left-liberal ideology was on the retreat. Clinton, therefore, realized that the big-government, high-spending policies of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party did not appeal to most voters. He, therefore, cleverly presented himself as a "New Democrat" -- one who was not addicted to raising taxes or deficit spending; was not hostile to the family; was willing to be critical of their core constituencies such as the African-Americans and trade unions; and was certainly not "unpatriotic" as many left-liberals were painted to be.

Clinton shrewdly realized that the Republicans and the right wing need not have a monopoly over issues such as law and order, being tough on crime, and protecting the institution of the family. Going one step further, Clinton's "third way" or policy of "triangulation" as it was sometimes called, effectively painted both the Republicans as being too far to the right and the "old" Democrats as being too far to the left, with himself (the "new" Democrat) as the sensible moderate in the center. He did so by retaining the most popular of the "big government" initiatives of the left such as the Social Security program while agreeing to cut "welfare" expenditures that were considered as an unacceptable dole out to the "lazy and the poor" from their pockets by the middle class.

This "Clintonian" strategy of a move by the liberal-left to the center, not only took the wind out of the right wing sails in the U.S., but also showed the way to the struggling liberals in other Western democratic countries. Tony Blair, for example, adopted the same "positioning-to-the-center" strategy in the 1997 British elections to out-maneuver the Conservatives (Ibid. 260)

Brilliant Intellect

Everyone who has worked closely with Bill Clinton acknowledges that he possessed a razor sharp mind and brilliant intellect: characteristics of most great leaders of the world. Leon Panetta, who served as Clinton's advisor on economy and later as his chief of staff, recalls that whenever he presented detailed and complex numbers on issues as varied as defense, agriculture, energy, transportation, taxes, health, Social Security, law enforcement or education, Clinton quickly grasped both the policy and political implications of each area. (Panetta) Panetta also recalls "with awe," Clinton's ability to work through full days with little rest and remember every detail "from scheduling, to politics, to who picked what playing card in the staff game of hearts we played on every Air Force One trip." (Ibid) to supplement his brilliant intellect, Clinton also had the rare quality of being open to the "other" viewpoint and the flexibility to accommodate it.

Great Communicator / Listener

Bill Clinton's communication skills were outstanding. He had the unique ability to "connect" with the audience while speaking as he always spoke fluently, with energy and passion, and without any nervous mannerisms. His communication style was different from that of Reagan -- the other great communicator among recent Presidents -- as he did not excel in effective one liners or entertaining story telling. However, Clinton's mastery of communication skills was a combination of both verbal and non-verbal factors. He had the ability to engage his audience in an interactive, mediated setting so that he could connect with them and at the same time fulfill the public's need for involvement and participation (Denton and Holloway 32).

Clinton was also a great listener. Osama El-Kadi narrates an example of his extra-ordinary listening skills, which he demonstrated during a recent "Leaders Conference" in London. After Clinton's speech, a lady who didn't speak good English asked a rambling, incoherent question during which the audience started to laugh, and boo, asking for her to stop. A full thirty minutes after the incident spent in responding to questions by others, Clinton astonished the audience by volunteering to answer the seemingly unintelligible question by the lady and even summarized the lady's question for the rest of the audience (El-Kadi).

The Negatives

At the beginning of this paper, it was suggested that Clinton was a paradox which means that apart from his considerable positive leadership qualities, he also had his negative side. Suspicions about his intemperate sex life, and his tendency to explain his past with apparent half-truths dogged him from the start and, in the end, resulted in his impeachment. It earned him the less than flattering nickname of "slick Willie" and the reputation of someone who could not be trusted. Questions were raised about the Clintons' investment in the Whitewater Development Corporation -- a land-development venture. During investigations into the allegations, the special prosecutor unearthed Clinton's sexual affair with a 24-year-old White House intern. At first Clinton denied that the affair took place before a grand jury. Confronted with mounting evidence, the House of Representatives decided to impeach the President on counts of perjury before the grand jury and obstruction of justice. (Campbell and Rockman 334-335)

Throughout the long-drawn out controversy, a vast majority of the American public, however, felt that Clinton should not be impeached or removed from his office, even if…

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