The Presidency of Billclinton: The Legacy of a New Domestic and Foreign Policy 9780755622924, 9781848858886

The presidency of Bill Clinton has an intrinsic historical significance: a marker of generational change, as he was the

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NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS

Mark White (editor) is Professor of History at Queen Mary, University of London. He received his doctoral degree from Rutgers University, and has published six books, including Missiles in Cuba: Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro, and the 1962 Crisis (1997), Kennedy: The New Frontier Revisited, ed. (1998), and Against the President: Dissent and DecisionMaking in the White House (2007). He is an Associate Fellow of the Institute for the Study of the Americas and sits on the advisory board to the United States Presidency Centre. John Dumbrell (Ph.D., University of Keele) is Professor of International Affairs at Durham University. He has published five books, including A Special Relationship: Anglo-American Relations in the Cold War and After (2001) and President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Communism (2004), and some twenty-five articles and chapters in edited works. Michael A. Genovese (Ph.D., University of Southern California) holds the Loyola Chair of Leadership, is Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Institute for Leadership Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He has written sixteen books, including The Power of the American Presidency, 1789–2000 (2001) and The Paradoxes of the American Presidency (2004, 2nd ed., with Thomas E. Cronin), both published by

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Oxford University Press. He is Associate Editor of the journal White House Studies, and has frequently appeared as a political commentator on local and national television. Elpida Katsavara (Ph.D., University of Kent) is Lecturer at the University of Winchester, having taught at the University of Kent, the University of Sheffield, and Queen Mary, University of London. Her dissertation was on Bill Clinton’s foreign policy and she has produced several articles, including ‘Congress, President Clinton and Military Intervention in Haiti, 1994,’ in A. Mania et al., eds, US Foreign Policy: Theory, Mechanisms and Practice (2007). Brian S. Miller (Ph.D., University of Mississippi) is Assistant Professor of History at Charleston Southern University. He has taught previously at the University of Arkansas and the University of Mississippi, and has published an article on Russell Keaton. His dissertation was on Bill Clinton’s governorship. Iwan Morgan (Ph.D., London School of Economics) is Professor of US Studies and Deputy Director and Head of US Programmes at the Institute for the Study of the Americas, School of Advanced Study, University of London. He has taught previously at London Metropolitan University and London Guildhall University. He has published five single-authored books, including Beyond the Liberal Consensus: A Political History of the United States since 1965 (1994), Deficit Government: Taxing and Spending in Modern America (1995), and Nixon (2002). He has co-edited several other books, published numerous articles, and has served regularly as a commentator for several major media outlets, including the BBC and CNN. Alex Waddan (Ph.D., University of Manchester) is Senior Lecturer in American Politics at the University of Leicester. He has published two monographs: The Politics of Social Welfare: The Collapse of the Centre and the Rise of the Right (1997), and Clinton’s Legacy? A New Democrat in Governance (2002), and more than twenty academic articles (in such distinguished periodicals as the Journal of American Studies, Journal of

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Social Policy, and Political Science Quarterly) and chapters in edited volumes. He serves as referee for six major journals. Mark Wheeler (Ph.D., Queen Mary, University of London) is Professor of Political Communications at London Metropolitan University. He has written three books: Politics and Mass Media (1997), European Television Industries (2005, with Petros Iosifidis and Jeanette Steemers), and Hollywood: Politics and Society (2006); and has also published numerous articles and chapters in edited volumes. He is the founder of the Political Studies Association Media and Politics Specialist Group, and has served as a research officer for the British Screen Advisory Council. Kevan M. Yenerall (Ph.D., Miami University) is Professor of Political Science at Clarion University. His publications include ‘Executing the Rhetorical Presidency: William Jefferson Clinton, George W. Bush, and the Contemporary Face of Presidential Power,’ in Christopher S. Kelley, ed., Executing the Constitution (2006), and ‘The Presidency as a Cultural Pulpit’, in Ryan J. Barilleaux, ed., Presidential Frontiers: Underexplored Issues in White House Politics (1998). He is also the coauthor of Seeing the Bigger Picture: Understanding Politics Through Film and Television (2004), which was nominated for book of the year by the National Library Association. He serves as chair of the Popular Culture and Politics section of the Northeastern Political Science Association.

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INTRODUCTION MARK WHITE

The presidency of Bill Clinton is an intrinsically important part of modern American history. He was the first man to be elected president in the post-Cold War era. He was the first Democrat to be elected to a second term since Franklin D. Roosevelt, sixty years earlier. He was the first president to balance a budget in three decades. He was unique in that his time in the White House was accompanied by a national obsession with his personal life and character. This work seeks to explore Clinton’s life in politics – from his governorship of Arkansas to the 1992 presidential campaign and on to many of the salient aspects of his presidency. Admittedly, it is an early examination of Clinton in a historiographical sense. If one considers the historical literature on other post-World War II presidents – such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, or Richard M. Nixon – it seems to be the case that it is not until about two decades after a presidency ends that scholarship begins to exhibit a certain rigour, detachment and a willingness to revise initial and perhaps hasty judgements on presidents as they leave the White House. With Ike, it was not until Eisenhower revisionism came to the fore in the early 1980s, with the works of Stephen Ambrose, Fred Greenstein, and Robert Divine, that the chimera that Eisenhower was a largely inept president who was not even in control of policy was revised. With JFK, it was not until the 1980s, when the likes of Garry Wills and Thomas Paterson penned critical works, that the inflated claims made on behalf of Kennedy

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by ‘Camelot’ writers in the 1960s were refuted. It was not until Joan Hoff’s influential 1994 work, Nixon Reconsidered, that an effective attempt was made to look beyond Watergate in order to acknowledge Nixon’s achievements that had hitherto been largely obscured.1 Clinton’s presidency has already generated a significant body of work, including useful studies by scholars, journalists and presidential aides. But it may be a decade hence before the debate on Clinton reaches a phase of mature scholarly reflection. Still, exploring his political career at this point in time is apropos. Firstly, developments since Clinton’s presidency, such as the recent economic crash, the inability of the administration of George W. Bush to balance the budget in the way Clinton had in the late 1990s, and Barack Obama’s passage of universal health care, can be seen to shed a useful retrospective light on key aspects of Clinton’s presidential leadership. Moreover, a more detached view of Clinton’s life in politics is easier to develop now that a decade has passed since he left the White House, and the intense emotions generated by the man have at least partially subsided.2 The essays in this volume examine a wide range of issues with certain key themes to the fore. One of these is character, which has become a major topic in writings on the American presidency. James David Barber has provided a sophisticated and influential assessment of the subject in Presidential Character. As the juicy details of Kennedy’s personal life were revealed, the issue of character became central to the debate on his presidency. In A Question of Character, Thomas Reeves asserted in 1991 that JFK did not possess the moral compass that is the foundation of effective leadership. His lack of character, Reeves maintained, was evident in his dissolute personal life, but could also be seen in his presidency – for instance, in the reluctance with which he promoted civil rights reform. In a collection of essays I edited seven years later, Kennedy: The New Frontier Revisited, I developed a different interpretation, arguing that JFK’s personal life rarely impinged on his public duties, that the recklessness characteristic of his private life was very different to the caution that defined his political role as president, and that ideology rather than character explains the sorts of policy choices he made. Other historians have reflected on the twin issues of

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character and leadership not only in reference to Kennedy, but to other US presidents as well.3 So character has become a major theme in presidential studies, and especially those on JFK. This is despite the fact that during Kennedy’s presidency character was not an issue that caused public debate. The American people and the press remained unaware of his philandering, his drug use and his alleged dealings with the mob. Consideration was given to his policies but not to the question of whether he had the moral fibre to be president. The difference with Clinton is that character was a major topic of debate at the time of his presidency (and of his 1992 presidential campaign), not just retrospectively. The media and the American people scrutinized his womanizing, use of drugs, and his avoidance of military service in Vietnam. As his character was analysed so much at the time, it will inevitably be a key issue for historians in the future. As with the American people in the 1990s, scholars will need to decide whether Clinton’s character was, as his critics alleged, fundamentally flawed. They will need to consider why his character and personal life received so much more attention than those of any previous president. They will also have to analyse the impact his personal life, not least his affair with Monica Lewinsky, did have on his presidency. In anticipation of the centrality of character to the historical debate on Clinton, as it develops, this volume dwells on this question of his character and its significance. In addition to character, this work examines the importance of the political ideology developed by Clinton. Working with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council in the 1980s, defining himself in the 1992 presidential campaign as a New Democrat who embraced neither conservative nor liberal solutions but a Third Way approach, Clinton’s political career had a significance in terms of the perennial discourse in the United States over the appropriate role to be played by the federal government; and, moreover, exerted a considerable influence on centre-left leaders and parties throughout the world, not least on Tony Blair’s New Labour in Britain. How Clinton reshaped the message of the Democratic Party, in the wake of its defeats in five of the six presidential elections since 1968, is a vital issue, one that a number of the essays in this volume explore.

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This work also seeks to provide an overall assessment of Clinton as a politician and as a president. In recent polls of historians, Clinton has not fared well. In a 2000 C-SPAN survey by American presidential historians his overall ranking was twenty-first, behind the likes of Grover Cleveland and William McKinley. Other recent presidents were more highly regarded: JFK was eighth, Eisenhower ninth, and Lyndon Johnson tenth. In a C-SPAN survey nine years later, Clinton had moved up to a modest overall position of fifteenth. In 2011, for the first time, a poll was conducted among British scholars who work on American history. Once again, Clinton’s overall ranking was mediocre: he was rated nineteenth. Jimmy Carter, who left the presidency in 1981 as a deeply unpopular figure, was one place ahead of Clinton. A closer examination of that poll reveals that it was enduring concerns about Clinton’s character that were chiefly responsible for this low overall evaluation. In terms of moral authority, British historians ranked him thirty-fourth amongst US presidents.4 Unlike these recent assessments, the essays in this volume generally advance the view that Clinton was a highly effective politician and president. Brian Miller shows how Clinton learnt lessons from his defeat in the 1980 race for governor of Arkansas, particularly in terms of how to position himself ideologically, that ultimately helped him reach the White House. In his 1992 bid for the presidency, Mark White argues, Clinton showed himself to be one of the most formidable campaigners in American history. He showed enormous resilience to withstand the generally excessive attacks on his character, displayed an immense and commendable knowledge of the issues, and was adroit in reshaping the Democratic Party so as to make it more appealing to the American people. Iwan Morgan gives Clinton high marks for the way in which his policies helped foster a period of robust economic growth during his eight years in the White House, whilst John Dumbrell and Elpida Katsavara praise his policies towards Northern Ireland and Kosovo respectively. Alex Waddan makes the case that despite his inability to achieve his objective of universal health care reform, the provision of health care was extended – and that, contrary to what his critics claimed, his plan for universal health care was not an anachronistic ‘big government’ scheme but was in

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fact couched neatly within the parameters of his Third Way ideology. Kevan Yenerall commends Clinton for the generally enlightened, and in presidential terms, unprecedented leadership he provided on gay rights. Michael A. Genovese suggests that Clinton did exhibit character flaws but notes that the American people were more interested in his effectiveness than in his personal sense of rectitude. Mark Wheeler examines the close and politically useful links that Clinton developed with Hollywood. Bill Clinton provided the United States, essentially, with eight years of peace and prosperity. He worked hard to unite rather than divide the American people. He was the most politically successful Democratic president since FDR. And the argument can be cogently made that, for the most part, the ‘character’ issues that dominated his race for the presidency and then his presidency itself arose more as a result of the intemperate ferocity with which his opponents attacked him than serious personal deficiencies on his part. In short, this volume seeks to stake out a clear position in the emerging historiography – namely, that Clinton was one of the most effective leaders to occupy the White House since the last indisputably great American president, Franklin Roosevelt.

Notes 1. Ambrose, Stephen E., Eisenhower: The President (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1984); Greenstein, Fred I., The Hidden-Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader (New York: HarperCollins, 1982); Divine, Robert A., Eisenhower and the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981); Wills, Garry, The Kennedy Imprisonment: A Meditation on Power (Boston: Little, Brown, 1982); Paterson, Thomas G., ed., Kennedy’s Quest for Victory: American Foreign Policy, 1961–1963 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989); Hoff, Joan, Nixon Reconsidered (New York: Basic Books, 1994). 2. Skocpol, Theda, Boomerang: Clinton’s Health Security Effort and the Turn Against Government in US Politics (New York: Norton, 1996); Hamilton, Nigel, Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency (New York: PublicAffairs, 2007); Maraniss, David, First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995); Harris, John F., The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House (New York: Random House, 2005); Reich, Robert B., Locked in the Cabinet

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(New York: Knopf, 1997); Stephanopoulos, George, All Too Human: A Political Education (Boston: Little, Brown, 1999). 3. Barber, James David, Presidential Character: Predicting Policy Performance in the White House, 3rd ed. (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1985); Reeves, Thomas C., A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy (New York: Free Press, 1991); White, Mark, ‘Behind Closed Doors: The Private Life of a Public Man’, in White, ed., Kennedy: The New Frontier Revisited (New York: New York University Press, 1998); Wilson, Robert A., ed., Character Above All: Ten Presidents from FDR to George Bush (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996). 4. C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership, http://legacy.c-span.org/ Presidential/Survey/Overall-Ranking.aspx [accessed on 25 March 2011]; UK Survey of US Presidents Results, http://americas.sas.ac.uk/research/survey/ overall.htm [accessed on 24 March 2011].

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1 GR APPLING WITH THE GOVER NOR SHIP: THE FALL AND R ISE OF BILL CLINTON BRIAN S. MILLER

Frank White’s defeat of incumbent Bill Clinton in the 1980 gubernatorial race signalled a change in Arkansas politics: the end of a fourteen-year period in which moderate progressive politicians were to the fore. Clinton’s core problem in his first two-year term in office was pushing the moderate progressive style of politics too far, being too liberal at a time when economic, social and political pressures were making Arkansans and their politicians favour a more economically conservative agenda. Bill Clinton proved to be a politician able to learn from his mistakes, and his defeat in 1980 taught him how to gauge public opinion and to adapt his agenda accordingly (following Alexandre Ledru-Rollin’s apocryphal quote, ‘There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.’). This insight reveals parallel tendencies in Clinton’s presidency, when after his first two years in office he abandoned a liberal position in the face of massive public opposition, and instead embraced a more centrist agenda.1

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Arkansas Politics before Bill Clinton World War II changed Arkansas in many ways, not the least of which was by providing the state with talented veterans who saw that major changes needed to be made in state politics. Sid McMath, a marine who fought at Guadalcanal and a prosecuting attorney in resort town Hot Springs, used his veteran status and newness to politics to be the first of this ‘G.I. Revolt’ to become prominent in Arkansas politics – in 1948 he was elected governor. McMath, as the face of a generation that demanded change, proved to be far more economically progressive and racially moderate than any of his predecessors, and this strengthened the idea that state government could be used to better citizens’ lives. He worked to increase educational opportunities and medical care for Arkansans. His emphasis on road construction – of great interest in a state still largely travelled by dirt roads – won him support from the business community, though his stand against the powerful Arkansas Power and Light Company over the building of a steam plant in the Ozarks made McMath powerful enemies as well. It was that, combined with a scandal over highway construction contracts, that doomed McMath to only two terms in office. He had dared to do much, but had in the end fallen short.2 His immediate successor, Francis Cherry, served a term best noted for its lack of anything to note. Following Cherry, however, was one of the most debated politicians in Arkansas history, Orval Faubus. An administrative assistant to McMath during his governorship and a veteran as well, Faubus brought to the state house a continuation of McMath’s progressive populism by increasing funding for education and the mentally disabled, creating an office for industrial development, and naming six African Americans to the state Democratic Committee. Faubus’ credentials as a liberal, however, were damaged at Little Rock’s Central High School.3 Faubus was in many ways a consummate opportunist, willing to do almost anything to keep his office – this is not surprising, as unlike many of his office-holding peers, Faubus had little in private life (such as a law practice) to fall back on. His effort to halt the integration

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of Central High School was more about getting an unprecedented third term in office than in preserving some ideal of segregation, but it linked Faubus permanently to the demagoguery of the civil rights period. As a consequence, he came across as a segregationist, or at least as a governor with segregationist leanings, regardless of his personal beliefs. By the mid-1960s Faubus had become allied with the racially conservative financial elites of the state, the very group he had worked against in his earlier years. His administration was perceived as more about maintaining the racial and economic status quo than advancing McMath’s progressive vision, and so Arkansas politics remained dominated by the peculiar Southern strain of demagoguery, racism, and conservative populism.4 In this atmosphere, Arkansas in the 1960s embraced a new political agenda, championed by Arkansas émigré Winthrop Rockefeller, scion of the wealthy Rockefeller family and a dedicated Republican. Arkansans in the 1960s were awakening to the idea that the national Democratic Party had shifted in the years since the New Deal, but that realization had little impact at the state level: the Democratic Party, though dominant, remained relatively conservative. Arkansas voters were willing to support national non-Democratic candidates such as George Wallace and Richard Nixon only because their political stances mirrored the state’s core values more closely than did their opponents. Rockefeller’s 1966 gubernatorial victory over Democratic candidate and arch-segregationist Jim Johnson, however, was about a candidate who promised a change from the negative aspects of the past – especially racism – to a brighter future that championed positive, progressive state development such as better prisons and schools. In this, Rockefeller built on the ideas of McMath, which had been derailed by Faubus. Rockefeller’s opponents, on the other hand, promised only an extension of the race-based politics of the Faubus years. While Rockefeller was positively liberal by the standard of ‘old guard’ Arkansas Democrats, he was only moderately progressive in terms of American politics at the national level. But this moderate progressive strain would mark Arkansas politics for the next fourteen years.5

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One reason for the success of this moderate progressivism is that Arkansas, like America at large, found itself reasonably well-off economically, and thus willing to spend money on new social programmes and infrastructure development. More importantly, it was an idea whose time had come. Arkansans had grown tired of an image of economic, racial and cultural backwardness, and wanted to embrace the benefits emerging from Sunbelt growth. Rockefeller singlehandedly brought in a left-leaning progressivism to the Arkansas Republican Party that contrasted not only with the state Democratic Party, but with more conservative Republican parties in other Southern states. It was Rockefeller’s money, to be sure, that had as much to do with his success as any inherent desire among the party faithful to embrace any sort of liberalism.6 But his victory showed more broadly that Arkansas was, in fact, partaking in a trend of Southern states moving away from the race politics of the civil rights era. The state, however, had no new Democratic politicians of sufficient stature to challenge the political ‘old guard’ Democrats. The wealthy Rockefeller, after a successful tour of duty as chairman of the new Arkansas Industrial Development Commission, did.7 Arkansans tended to vote pragmatically by picking the man rather than the party, because for so long there had been in effect only one party to choose from. Rockefeller’s victory was thus more about voters’ perception that he would do a better job than his Democratic opponents than the fact that he was a Republican (the first Republican to become governor since Reconstruction). Voters were willing to ignore his party affiliation as long as there was no Democratic candidate who also embraced this moderate progressivism. That person came along in 1970 when Dale Bumpers ran for governor as a Democratic moderate progressive, and soundly defeated Rockefeller. Pat Moran, who served for a time as Bumpers’ top assistant, remarked that rural Arkansas voters were ‘looking for a way to stay with the Democratic Party; they have to be run off’. Arkansas had been, notes historian V.O. Key, the state that most adhered to the Solid South tradition, and when candidates were otherwise equal, Arkansas voters chose the Democrat over the Republican. When

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Bumpers appeared on the scene, therefore, his victory over Rockefeller was virtually assured.8 After two two-year terms in office, Bumpers successfully ran for the US Senate, and was replaced by David Pryor, whose political stance was almost identical to that of Bumpers. He also followed Bumpers’ example – two terms as governor, and then a move up to the US Senate. Clinton would be the direct inheritor of this Democratic moderate progressivism, the third, with Bumpers and Pryor, of the ‘Big Three’ Arkansas politicians.9

Clinton’s Push into Politics Bill Clinton’s entry into politics came in 1974 when he unsuccessfully challenged Republican incumbent John Paul Hammerschmidt for northwest Arkansas’ Third District House seat. Clinton was at the time teaching at the University of Arkansas Law School in Fayetteville, the economic hub of northwest Arkansas and, in the Ozark Mountains, a small but persistent enclave for Republicans since the Civil War. This would be the first of only two elections that Clinton would lose.10 In 1976 Clinton ran for state attorney general, marking his foray into state politics. Two years later, when David Pryor decided to make his run for the Senate, Clinton was ready to step into the Governor’s Office. He easily defeated his four Democratic opponents in the 30 May primary, and largely ignored his Republican opponent, Lynn Lowe, in the general election.11 At thirty-three, Clinton was the youngest Arkansas governor in history, and the youngest sitting governor in the nation. He was one of a number of progressive Southern governors elected in 1978, all of whom made attacks on various social and economic problems. Hence Arkansas was not the only state where new governors were expanding moderate progressive tendencies originating in the late 1960s. Clinton, though, was the only one of these governors who would be up for re-election in 1980, giving him very little time to recover from any serious mistakes.12 During his campaign in 1978 and throughout his first term, Clinton continually made the self-serving point that while he considered

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himself an activist, he could not be called liberal. In truth, all the moderate progressive governors made a point of their activism; certainly, no one could call them conservatives in the mould of either ‘old guard’ Arkansas Democrats or Frank White. Unlike Bumpers and Pryor, however, Clinton exhibited the boundless enthusiasm of someone who had rarely failed in getting what he wanted. As a result, Clinton focused on developing an activist style of leadership to the exclusion of other aspects of being governor. In an attempt to continue the drive of his three predecessors, Clinton formulated a legislative programme that was ambitious. It pushed the moderate progressive stance to almost unacceptable levels, enough to make rural conservatives leery of their new governor. He came out for local school consolidation (never a popular topic), and accepted a legislative proposal to raise car license and tag fees to finance new highway construction. He changed or started new social service and education programmes, and restructured the governor’s office to make it more efficient. Clinton also created a contentious teacher-testing programme, and backed an Arkansas Education Association plan for a teacher fair dismissal policy.13 This was too strong a liberal agenda at a time when Arkansans were retreating to older, more conservative positions. The national economic downturn hit the state hard, and Clinton’s policies were suddenly out of step. Many who voted for him in 1978 began to wonder if his opponent in that race was correct in labelling Clinton a ‘taxand-spend’ candidate. His choice of ‘Eastern liberal’ advisors – aloof, overeducated out-of-state beard-wearers who had little knowledge of, and little sympathy for, the farmers and workers that made up most of the state’s population – did not help endear him to a rural, culturally conservative electorate, nor did his expensive and glitzy ‘Diamonds and Denim’ inaugural ball.14 Clinton’s personality also caused problems. He was seen as arrogant, uncaring, and increasingly out-of-touch with the hard times of Arkansans. His wife, the Illinois-born (and thus ‘foreign’) Hillary Rodham, ruffled more feathers by refusing to use the Clinton name. Many Arkansans began to consider voting against him in 1980, not as an attempt to permanently end a promising political career, but in an

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effort to ‘teach him a lesson’. It was very apparent that Clinton had lost the sympathy of the Arkansas voter.15 Clinton’s programme alone could not generate enough negative feelings to cost him an election. Arkansas had a tradition of giving governors two terms in office to get their programmes up and running (only two in the twentieth century had been denied that prior to Clinton), realizing that two years, one of which included an intensive and distracting campaign, did not provide much time for anything. Two major issues appeared, however, to serve as lightning rods for protest: his increase in car tag fees, and his acquiescence in the housing of Cuban refugees at the Fort Chaffee National Guard base. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter federalized Fort Chaffee and made it a processing centre for Cubans from the Mariel boatlift. (The fort had previously been used to process refugees fleeing Vietnam.) While Clinton had no choice but to respect federal authority, many Arkansans, portraying a strain of xenophobia, felt Clinton could have done more to keep the Cubans out of the state.16 Clinton also erred in signing a law that would significantly raise car license and tag fees to pay for state services, at a time when Arkansans were beginning to feel the effects of the economic downturn of the late 1970s. Even though the law had been the idea of the state legislature, that body almost to a man let Clinton take the political heat. Since all Arkansans had to pay car tag fees at least once a year, they would be constantly reminded of who was responsible for those higher fees when they looked at Clinton’s picture in the local tax assessor’s office.17

The Campaign of 1980 In the May 1980 Democratic preferential primary, Clinton’s only opponent was quixotic retired turkey farmer Monroe Schwarzlose, who was not viewed as a serious candidate. Schwarzlose had also run for the Democratic nomination in 1978, finishing last in a five-man race and receiving only 5,898 votes (around 1 per cent) out of 571,812 votes cast. While many saw the lack of opponents as mere apathy, others commented that since Clinton had not lived up to his incoming promise, it would be in November that he would face a major protest

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vote. It was no surprise that Clinton defeated Schwarzlose, but eyes were raised when the turkey farmer received 31 per cent of the vote, far greater than expected. Clinton, for his part, did not take the warning seriously enough.18 Expecting a new Republican president, the Arkansas Republican Party in 1980 decided to stop picking candidates based on party loyalty, and sought a candidate – not necessarily a card-carrying Republican – who was well-known, likeable and had views compatible with Republicans. The result was that Republicans turned to Frank White, lifelong Democrat, president of the Capital Savings and Loan Association, and former Arkansas Industrial Development Commissioner. White handily defeated his own Republican primary opponent, Marshall Chrisman, in the 1980 primary.19 White did acknowledge that his decision to run as a Republican came in part from a need for more time to mount an effective campaign against Clinton than the two months provided by the primary campaign period. The primary campaign also found White attacking mainly Clinton, already bringing up the issue of Cuban refugees at Fort Chaffee; in fact White hardly commented on Chrisman at all.20 White’s summer and fall campaign focused on the electorate’s displeasure with the state’s young governor. That summer, Arkansas had record-breaking droughts and heat waves, a mirror of the intense and unrelenting heat of White’s attacks on Clinton. The governor, however, was unprepared for White’s negative campaign, and in fact had no defence planned at all. Arkansas Democrats had become used to the 1970s-style positive campaigns, and Clinton had not expected any serious Republican opposition. White turned the state’s general frustration with Clinton and difficult economic times into a ‘car tags and Cubans’ strategy that gave voters a phrase to rally around. The Republican candidate knew why voters had grown unhappy with Clinton, and tailored a decidedly negative campaign to fit that discontent, slowly drawing in the voters that he needed. White placed the blame for higher license and transfer fees squarely on Clinton, arguing that no tax had even been passed in Arkansas that the governor did not want. The Cuban situation, White also said, could have

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been resolved had Clinton stood up to Jimmy Carter over the placing of refugees at Fort Chaffee.21 White continually beat Clinton over the head with the ‘car tags and Cubans’ slogan, but Clinton, despite all of the polling data he had collected, failed to recognize that the political winds had changed until the very end of the campaign. Arkansas’ moderate progressive period had come to an end, and Clinton had been caught unaware. He had started the summer with a substantial lead over White; a June poll showed Clinton ahead 61 per cent to 21 per cent. A victory for White would mean not only winning over the Republican faithful (including the philosophically opposed, liberal ‘Rockefeller Republicans’) and undecided voters, but also digging deeply into the Democratic voter rolls.22 White was also aided by the ripening Southern political realignment. As the national Democratic Party became more liberal, Southern Democrats (and Arkansas was no exception) found themselves out of step with the Democratic leadership. As a result, Republican presidential candidates had enjoyed substantial success since the 1960s, with Nixon counting on the region for victory. As the media portrayed America as sliding into a decadent immoral lifestyle, conservative Arkansans felt drawn to the morally conservative Republican Party, even as they repeatedly voted Democratic candidates into state office. White also benefited from an increase in the national Republican Party’s aid to state candidates, the growth of an Arkansas business-based middle class with Republican tendencies, an increasingly diverse electorate, and the dying off of an older Solid South generation. All of these together enabled White to be a competitive candidate in an electoral system that would have formerly been closed to him.23 Clinton’s positive-style campaign in the summer of 1980 focused on his achievements, which essentially meant that he was justifying the very decisions and actions White criticized. As summer turned into fall, Clinton began to distance himself from the more liberal elements of the national Democratic Party, and picked up on White’s theme of running the state ‘like a business’. Even so, Clinton’s prospects were clearly hurt by the intensity of White’s campaign, even if voters

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showed no sign of turning away. White continued his anti-Clinton strategy right up to the beginning of November.24 Clinton finally began to campaign energetically in October, making a special effort to refute White’s accusations while still articulating a positive message. In the ten days before the election, Clinton finally realized that, in the past two years, his campaign organization had lapsed to the point of ineffectiveness – overconfidence had bred complacency. Clinton’s intensive barnstorming of the state was too little, too late; White’s aggressive campaign had paid off. On 4 November Frank White did what many in Arkansas had thought impossible, even up to the last moment – he had beaten Bill Clinton, 52 per cent to 48 per cent.25 White had read the mood of the state far more accurately than had Clinton, who campaigned in 1980 as if nothing had changed since 1978. Disregarding any attempt to formulate a precise set of policies, White needed only to speak of general perception, depicting Clinton as a liberal spender (when ‘liberal’ was still a four-letter word) while he himself had a conservative outlook. The themes of the White campaign clearly showed his conservative tendencies, including fiscal prudence, reduction in government size, promotion of big business and private industry, ‘traditional values’, a return to an earlier divisive campaign style, and a willingness to curtail humanitarian public services for the sake of measures that would bring about economic improvement. As a result, he received support from such religious right groups as the Family, Life, America and God (FLAG) organization and the Moral Majority, not to mention Democrats of another age, like Orval Faubus and Jim Johnson. Furthermore, White’s conservative campaign had appealed to a general public worried by the economic downturn, as in tough times most rural voters wanted a conservative government that kept its distance.26 Arkansas voters, as part of the Solid South, had become used to voting for the candidate, rather than the party. Voter distinctions tended to be based on personality, such as rural versus urban, rich versus poor, or demagogue versus moderate. Despite Arkansas’ flirtation with the Republican Party in presidential elections, White’s success, like that of Winthrop Rockefeller in 1966 and 1968, was less about a major

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shift in state party loyalty and more about White’s acceptability in comparison with his opponent. To Arkansas voters, he was simply seen as the better candidate. After a lifetime in the investment and banking business (and a brief stint as Governor Pryor’s director of economic development), White was able to gauge the Arkansas Zeitgeist and weld the two major objections to Clinton – as well as a host of lesser complaints – into an ultimately effective campaign. Republicans in Arkansas tended to be businessmen and lawyers in Little Rock; White fit right in. In one sense, White was out of the same mould as Clinton. Though nearly a decade older, White embraced the ideals of the new Southern governor: younger, better educated, and with a better preparation than his pre-Rockefeller predecessors. Like many of his contemporaries, including Clinton, White reorganized his government (though not to the extent of Dale Bumpers, who carried out the most extensive bureaucratic overhaul of the century), and worked to have a congenial, cooperative relationship with the federal government. Most importantly, he – along with the other Southern governors in the early 1980s – worked to change their fellow citizens’ view of their states.27 Above all, White understood what had happened politically in both the state and the nation, and argued cogently that the ‘policies of former governors’ did not reflect the mind of the state. The people simply could not elect the Clinton of 1978 again, just as the Republicans of 1980 would have had little use for Winthrop Rockefeller. Even leading Democrats such as wealthy businessmen Frank Lady and Witt Stephens willingly voted for White because they liked his conservative philosophy and big business roots. After White’s inaugural address, legislators recognized that the people had mandated a return to conservatism. Complaints against White after the 1981 legislative session stressed only his lack of political acumen, not his conservatism. The Conway Log Cabin Democrat noted that when the White campaign forced the electorate to consider liberal versus conservative, voters rejected the liberal Clinton, as they would have done two years earlier had the vote been put on the same basis. That many in the state had voted for Rockefeller, even though

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he had in fact been a liberal, only made it easier for them to vote for another Republican.28

White as Governor White’s victory also gave evidence for a shift in the Arkansas Republican Party, away from the moderate progressivism of Winthrop Rockefeller, to a party that reflected the more conservative nature of the national Republican Party. It was still somewhat an exception for the South, as most governors were still Democrats. Arkansas – indeed, most of the South – was ripe for the Republican harvest in 1980. Ronald Reagan’s optimistic conservatism attracted Arkansans, and White was able to use the coattail effect of the ‘Reagan Revolution’ to his benefit, as well. With Arkansans already facing the prospect of voting for a Republican for president, voting for a Republican governor was not a difficult thing to do. On a practical level, White credited his victory to hard work during the campaign season, a good and dedicated organization, Clinton’s overconfidence and complacency, and the electorate’s response to his ‘car tags and Cubans’ message.29 In his initial victory and a successful, fiscally prudent legislative session, White fit in well with the mould of ‘new Southern governors’. He was relatively young and well educated, and he understood the nature of the business community that constituted a large part of his personal constituency. Also like his contemporaries, White did not necessarily reflect the demographics of Arkansas, by education, income, or party identification. While is it true that Arkansans historically voted on the basis of their personal response to candidates, the sense of the candidate’s ideology often served as a focal point for that response. For example, Bumpers, Pryor and Clinton made it clear they championed the moderate progressive style; in doing so, they presented a personal ideology for voters to react to, regardless of whether that ideology had anything to do with the Democratic Party in general. The success of the moderate progressives in the 1970s kept Democratic conservatives from reasserting party dominance, and many realized that their time in the Democratic camp had come to an end.

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White’s campaign and subsequent term presented fiscally conservative Democrats with a candidate with an ideology like their own. In the 1970s many of those conservatives had voted for and financially supported the moderate progressive governors, simply to back a winning horse. Financiers and state government king-makers Jackson and Witt Stephens, for instance, deserted Faubus to support Bumpers, then Pryor, and then Clinton. White’s election, however, caused them and other wealthy conservatives to abandon Clinton, and more importantly the Democratic Party, for White, a move they had not made for the excessively liberal Winthrop Rockefeller.30 At the national level, Reagan’s election and early success provided a boost to general Republican fortunes in Arkansas, and to White in particular, by giving a greater air of legitimacy to White’s term. Reagan’s success in office made the GOP more respectable to the average Arkansan, allowing incipient Republicans to come out of the closet. The effect was region-wide: during his presidency, more Southerners began to think of themselves as Republicans than Democrats. Despite Republican success at the presidential level, White ran into difficulties in part because of his political gaffes. Despite White’s claims that he would run the state like a ‘bidness’, he was unable to translate a conservative mandate into a workable programme, especially when Reagan’s federal budget cuts caused Arkansans to face the choice of higher taxes (which they could not afford) or fewer state services (which many relied on). In addition, White had championed a Creation Science Law that many felt brought Arkansas unwanted publicity as a backward state harkening back to the Scopes trial of the 1920s. His re-election campaign in 1982 would be very difficult unless White could maintain the high performance rating needed to overcome his party identification.31

The Campaign of 1982 Immediately after his November defeat, Clinton and his family went on vacation in Mexico to recover from the loss. Then Clinton prepared

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to leave state employment for the first time since being hired as a law professor in 1974. He took a job with a Little Rock law firm, and spent the bulk of 1981 and 1982 running for re-election.32 Almost from the day he left office Clinton began working the telephones in an effort to mend fences. He met with groups, accepted speaking engagements and in general rebuilt his campaign organization. The plan had developed, no doubt, as early as that vacation in Mexico: determine what was needed to retake the governorship, and then make it so. Betsey Wright, long-standing friend and a highly regarded political organizer, came to Little Rock from Texas, ostensibly to get Clinton’s personal files in order but in reality to help him put together the comeback campaign.33 Clinton could gauge the state’s Zeitgeist as well as White had, once he regained his focus after the 1980 defeat. His political instincts led him around the state, quizzing voters in coffee shops and town squares as to what he had done wrong, and what it would take to fix it. The result was a sincere apology to Arkansans, and a new agenda that eschewed moderate-progressivism in favour of a more centrist approach that included some conservative ideas. His platform, based on fiscal responsibility and an endorsement of conservative values that partially echoed the national Republican agenda (strong on crime, weak on social programmes), brought wandering Democrats back into the party fold.34 Before he could hope to take on White in the fall, Clinton first had to make his way through a difficult preferential primary. Now with Clinton no longer seen as invincible, many in the Democratic Party were unwilling to simply acquiesce in his return. So Clinton set out to woo the party faithful by broadcasting a thirty-second ‘apology’ campaign ad explaining that he had learnt his lesson. The ad, first broadcast on 8 February, showed Clinton in close-up, so much so that his face did not fit the screen; speaking directly to the camera, he apologized for raising the license fees, saying he had learnt ‘you can’t lead without listening’. The ad intrigued many of the state’s viewers: an image of a contrite Clinton going straight into the voter’s living room in an intimate way with an apology for letting them down and a plea for another chance.35

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In the 1982 primary season, Arkansans were treated to a replay of the 1980 primaries, but with a larger cast of characters. White had to face not only Marshall Chrisman, but neophyte Barbara Voll; he largely ignored them and spent the primary campaigning against Bill Clinton. For his part, Clinton had to focus on his own competition, especially Jim Guy Tucker, a former House representative who many expected to defeat the ex-governor. No one expected, however, that the quiet former attorney general and lieutenant governor Joe Purcell would prove to be Clinton’s most serious primary opponent. Monroe Schwarzlose and Kim Hendren (a former state representative), the other two Democratic candidates, provided the primary with not much more than comedy relief.36 All the candidates had learnt from the surprising election of White in 1980. During the 1982 campaign season virtually all traces of moderate-progressivism vanished, replaced by strident promises of fiscal accountability and only vague hints at a tax rise. The success of the conservative revolution made any type of progressive tendencies unacceptable to many state voters. Instead, the major Democratic candidates embraced a centrist position in an effort to find the balance that appealed to conservatives, liberals and independents. White used the term ‘liberal’ as a bludgeon in his attacks against the assembled Democrats, while Clinton especially attempted to overcome the perceived liberalism of his earlier term. As a result, he made himself into a hard-hitting campaigner, determined never again to pull punches. Despite the fact that many state leaders had campaigned for Clinton, he did not enjoy rock-solid support from the party regulars. One party member acknowledged, ‘A lot of people are old Clinton people and they’re still for him, but at the same time they are still mad at him about some of the stunts he pulled.’ That erosion of support started at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, where Clinton spent most of his time rubbing elbows with the party elites from other states while Arkansas’ delegates had trouble finding him for such things as floor passes and other favours. His defeat marked him as ‘damaged goods’ in the eyes of many, who felt he should perhaps have set his sights on a House seat in Washington.37

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Primary seasons can be more dangerous to a party than the general election. The factionalism of the solid South political process kept its hold on Arkansas Democrats in 1982, resulting in five candidates vying for the nomination. In the past, non-serious, or an absence of, Republican opponents meant the Democratic gubernatorial primary in large part sewed up the general election. In that case, a primary where factional rivalry got ugly and feelings were hurt did not matter in November. Voters had no other real alternative, and if a losing faction from the primary did not vote, it made little difference. With a competitive Republican opponent to face in the fall, however, an acrimonious factional war in the spring could cost critical votes in the autumn.38 The three major Democratic candidates – Clinton, Tucker and Purcell – differed in terms of personality and ideology, with Clinton the repentant pseudo-conservative, Tucker the still-liberal pseudoconservative, and Purcell, whose personality and ideology were both simply summed up by the Arkansas Gazette as ‘inoffensively genial’. Class did not enter into the factions, nor did home region, despite Purcell’s extremely hard-core following in his native south Arkansas. All three had the goal of recapturing the traditional Southern Democratic bedrock, the conservative white vote.39 Clinton, Tucker and Purcell had to achieve a balance between being liberal enough to attract more of the liberal Democratic voters than their opponents, while proving conservative enough to bring back those who had defected to White. It was no easy task, and served to give White plenty of ammunition. Based on what any opponent might say, White could easily put a hex on the Democrats, especially Clinton and Tucker, by using their name and ‘liberal’ in the same sentence and hoping the conservatives who had put him in office in 1980 took the hint. Despite White’s attempts to hark back to 1980, the ‘bread and butter’ issues of jobs and wages dominated the primary season. Candidates also put great emphasis on ‘crime and punishment’, with each major candidate promising to be tough on prisoners and obliquely promising to execute as many death-row inmates as possible.40 While the four leading candidates of the primary (Clinton, Tucker, Purcell and the Republican, White) attempted to cloak their true

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political beliefs behind masks of campaign expediency, it is instructive to note that the less serious candidates (Democrats Kim Hendren and Monroe Schwarzlose; Republicans Marshall Chrisman and Barbara Voll) were much more willing to speak candidly about their agendas, whether liberal or conservative. Despite party affiliation, the group whose hearts and minds each candidate had to capture were the middle class voters who formed the core labourers in any campaign.41 Despite Tucker’s position as a household name, his last statewide success had been his run for attorney general in 1975. Purcell had a victorious statewide track record, but had last run in 1978 (as had Tucker, defeated by David Pryor for the open United States Senate seat). Clinton, on the other hand, had run in 1980, and still had a hold on much of the Democratic organization.42 In the end, superior organization and financing ensured a Clinton victory. No one else could match the money he could spend on campaign materials, and his personal charisma won new campaign workers at every stop. Tucker, for his part, relied too much on his endorsement from the state’s teachers’ union, the Arkansas Education Association, to provide support from teachers, who were instead more likely to wind up in the Clinton camp. This became apparent when a 23 May ad supporting Clinton, and signed by 500 educators, appeared in the Arkansas Gazette.43 Purcell, while universally considered a nice guy, also could not match Clinton’s organizational ability. In refusing to play roughand-tumble with his fellow candidates, Purcell failed to show voters that he could step into the trenches of political life and fight for what he believed in against canny state legislators and unscrupulous Washington bureaucrats.44 The campaign, however, had to resolve a much more serious question. Clinton, in that summer, could have chosen to re-embrace the moderate progressivism that had brought him into office in 1978, and then to find a way to bring the state back to the moderate tendency that Rockefeller had first championed. Instead, Clinton took the easier, and admittedly much more realistic, path of embracing the state’s conservatism, a reflection of regional and national sentiments. Clinton’s choice finally consigned the moderate progressive style to history.

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Defining the new conservatism was not a problem for Clinton, or any of his opponents – that had been settled in 1980. Clinton’s problem in the campaign was to turn that concept into workable policy proposals. That problem led Clinton to focus more on the attack than on any specifics, and many complained that he had become almost evasive in outlining any possible budget and legislative programmes. Well aware that the economy was the main concern for Arkansas voters, many of the proposals he did make focused on that area; job creation became a major speaking point, as did the question of future utility rate increases. While not promising to raise taxes, Clinton advocated an ‘advisory referendum’ of the people to get a firm sense of the state’s wishes on the matter. During the primary campaign especially, crime and punishment, particularly the latter, became a key part of the year’s campaign rhetoric, with Clinton speaking out for tougher sentencing and fewer commutations. Campaigning produced its own set of risks, however, and experienced politicians knew enough never to paint themselves into a corner. On the whole, Clinton eschewed making many concrete campaign proposals, saying, ‘I’m not going to make a bunch of promises based on money that I don’t know will be there.’ 45 The 1982 campaign was far more aggressive than the previous Clinton–White contest, and the summer and fall turned into a mudslinging battle of epic proportions. Both trumpeted their conservative natures, but each also had weaknesses. White attacked Clinton’s term, but Clinton now had White’s term to use as well, and Clinton’s new strong-defence strategy gave White little rest. Clinton still had to convince the state he had changed, while White kept returning to issues of two years earlier. In the end, the general campaign was not about who would do the best job as governor, but who could best convince voters that he and not his opponent best epitomized the state’s conservative spirit. White did not promise new programmes or major changes in state government if re-elected; he felt that this stand constituted one of his strongest selling points. White counted on the conservative, antigovernment, anti-tax increase sentiment remaining as strong in 1982 as it had been two years earlier when he and Reagan won using the

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same rhetoric. White also struck out at Clinton’s alleged national political ambitions, and swore that this was his own last campaign.46 Clinton, in 1982, reinvented himself in an effort to reconnect with the state’s voters. The young and allegedly arrogant aides were replaced by older, less naive politicians, and Clinton himself was influenced by the conservatism that the state’s electorate demanded. He was also prepared to resort to the sort of negative campaigning that had been used against him in 1980, vowing never again to be hit without hitting back harder. The summer and fall saw one of the most vicious campaigns in memory. White and Clinton attacked each other intemperately, but it was Clinton who would once again win the hearts of the people. Clinton expertly used his centrist-conservative stance to wage a successful campaign against White, and in so doing accomplished what many had thought highly unlikely – retaking the governorship. Clinton won his historic victory by 55 to 45 per cent, with a margin of more than 70,000 votes. This comeback victory constituted the platform on which his future political success would be built.47 Then, however, Clinton had to translate that centrist-conservative agenda from stump rhetoric into a new legislative programme. That translation caused Clinton to display none of the vigour of his first transition period in 1979. Many complained that the governor-elect had actually become evasive in outlining possible budget and legislative programmes, and seemed almost hesitant, as if unsure what this change would mean in practice. One commentator noted, ‘Clinton’s second-term legislative programme was a pale shadow of what he had offered in 1981’. An even more striking example of his changed approach was the comparison between the very staid and calm 1983 inauguration with the gala event of four years earlier. Clearly, Clinton had realized that this was no time for celebration.48 In reflecting on why Clinton triumphed in 1982, several factors can be seen to have made a difference. First was the favourable voter response to his televised apology for having raised motor vehicle license fees and to his apparent humility in asking for a second chance. Second, Clinton set up a statewide campaign organization that worked harder and more effectively than it had in 1980. Third, the campaign successfully courted county Democratic committee members, whom

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the party leaders persuaded to be loyal to the party and work hard for the party nominee after widespread mutiny two years earlier. Clinton also garnered large support from African Americans and women, groups whom the Republicans made very little effort to court. Finally, the Clinton campaign made a successful money-raising effort, allowing Clinton to match White in negative television advertising which, his polling revealed, had a dramatic effect on voters. A wider issue at work was the mid-term reaction against Reagan, which hampered all Republicans running in 1982.49 The single largest factor, however, in Clinton’s victory was his turn towards a centrist philosophy with conservative elements. It made him more palatable to more Arkansans. It was also the case that as long as the Democrats could field a reasonably able, focused candidate against a weak Republican candidate, victory was very likely. An example of this can be seen when, during Clinton’s 1982 campaign, schoolteacher Karlene Budman, after a rally, approached Clinton and said, ‘Put me on your mailing list. I’m begging to be convinced’. She later told a reporter, ‘What really makes me mad about Bill Clinton is that he forced me to vote for Frank White. For a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, it was very hard for me to vote Republican.’ Budman clearly represented the majority of Democrats who had defected to White in 1980 and needed only to see that Clinton had changed to fit the times. Once Clinton presented himself as a moderate, his election was all but assured.50 Underlying trends in Southern politics also aided Clinton in 1982. V.O. Key noted in the middle of the twentieth century that several factors prevented two-party politics from taking hold in the South: disenfranchisement, segregation, malapportionment, Democratic dominance. The strength of these factors dwindled in late twentiethcentury Arkansas. Unexpectedly, it was Clinton who received a boost from this change, not White. Suffrage and desegregation provided Clinton with a key constituency, the African American voter. White made the same mistake as his Republican peers across the region in virtually ceding the African American vote to his opponent. In addition, the end to absolute Democratic dominance gave the Clinton campaign the underdog’s incentive to work hard at getting out the vote,

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making use of still-powerful local Democratic organizations combined with his own personal campaign machine.51 Arkansas Democrat columnist Meredith Oakley, in giving her final evaluation of the 1982 campaign, said Clinton won because he needed to win. Unlike White, who had years of experience in the private sector, Clinton had geared his entire life to public service. Knowing he had a fall-back position, White was less motivated than Clinton, who no doubt believed the 1982 campaign to be his last chance to retake the path to fulfilling his life’s ambitions.52 The Clinton victory was due not only to the strengths of his campaign and to underlying trends in Southern politics, White also had flaws that cost him greatly. He proved unable to draw voters from outside his own business-oriented conservative group. While Clinton changed by becoming more conservative in order to move to the centre, White failed to appeal to the centre, and so lost votes from women, blacks, and those less conservative than himself. White also lacked a strategy for the final week of campaigning – a capacity to develop fresh ideas that added to, rather than merely repeated, the arguments he had been making since the spring. The absence of key advisers from two years earlier meant that White lacked the strength in talent and organization that he had enjoyed in 1980. Finally, White ran with the handicap of simply being a Republican. When presented with a favourable Democratic alternative, many voters needed little convincing to return to the Democratic fold. Despite the deficiencies of his campaign, White deserves credit for polling 45 per cent; had any of these deficiencies been rectified, the election would have been far closer, and White might even have pulled off another come-from-behind victory over Clinton.53 Clinton’s commitment to the sort of centrist-conservative politics that he embraced in 1982 might seem dubious given the liberal impulse evident in his first term in the White House. As the consummate politician, however, Clinton knew that if he ever wanted to retake the governor’s office and use that as a springboard to higher office, he had to sacrifice his moderate progressive heritage to the socioeconomics of the time and the will of the people. The Bill Clinton who emerged from the crucible was a ‘New Democrat’, one of a breed

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of centrist politicians who sought to bridge the electoral gap between liberal and conservative voters. This New Democrat political style became Clinton’s hallmark, and would go on to shape much of his presidency.54

What 1980 Taught Bill Clinton The ‘new and improved’ Clinton of 1982 learnt his lesson well, and his shift away from the activist ideas of his first term would become even more pronounced during his second term in office. It is this change – made not because of a personal ideological transformation but because of a pragmatic approach to achieving re-election – that defined Clinton’s next ten years as governor: he never again attempted as progressive a legislative programme as he did in his first term. Clinton achieved what had never been done in Arkansas before, retaking the governor’s chair after losing it. Through his defeat in 1980 he had acquired more humility, a need always to be in touch with the people, and he found a new strength of character. In winning re-election, Clinton honed his raw political talent to reach out and touch the individual voter, and sometimes an opponent. While the future would hold dismissive labels like ‘Slick Willy’, Clinton in fact had that gift, that indefinable measure of charisma and mesmerism seen only in a few politicians in a generation, that enabled him to succeed. Defeat changed Clinton in less positive ways, however. The progressive drive had been replaced by a conservative circumspection. The progressive trend that had brought Arkansas out of its segregationist past had come to an end, stopped by the conservative realities of Reagan’s America. Even though White had been defeated, his platform remained, keeping the state in a web of low taxation and few benefits, with no politician, including Clinton, willing to risk his own chances for re-election by even suggesting anything different. In his first term, Clinton frequently said that his willingness to throw political caution to the wind showed that he had no desire for a higher office. After 1982, infected by the dream of the presidency, he became the very thing he had sworn he was not, a rather expedient

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politician unwilling to do anything that would imperil a future bid for the White House. Clinton’s switch in style becomes important when one looks at his first term as president. For the first two years in office Clinton again championed an ambitious social policy agenda, that he could not politically sustain, similar to his first term as governor. This time, Clinton could not take two years ‘off’ to remake himself, and so scrambled to find a new, more cautious approach. The end result was much the same: a more moderate and more successful Clinton emerged. Clinton the president relived the ambition, failure, and remaking of Clinton the governor.

Notes Gellen, David, Bill Clinton As They Knew Him: An Oral Biography (New York: Gellen Publishing Group, 1994), p. 86. 2. Johnson, Ben F., Arkansas in Modern America: 1930–1999 (Fayetteville, AR: The University of Arkansas Press, 2000), pp. 102–103. 3. Bass, Jack, and DeVries, Walter, The Transformation of Southern Politics: Social Change and Political Consequence Since 1945 (New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1976), pp. 90–91; Blair, Diane, and Barth, Jay, Arkansas Politics and Government, 2nd ed. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2005), p. 16. 4. Bass and DeVries, The Transformation of Southern Politics, p. 93. 5. Urwin, Cathy Kunzinger, Agenda for Reform: Winthrop Rockefeller as Governor of Arkansas, 1967–1971 (Fayetteville, AR: The University of Arkansas Press, 1991), p. 203. 6. Tucker, David M., Arkansas: The People and Their Reputation (Memphis, TN: Memphis State University Press, 1985), p. 105; Hathorn, Billy Burton, ‘The Republican Party in Arkansas, 1920–1982’ (Ph.D. diss., Texas A&M University, 1983), pp. 180–182. 7. Swansbrough, Robert H., and Brodsky, David M., eds, The South’s New Politics (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1988), p. 126; Bass and DeVries, The Transformation of Southern Politics, p. 106. 8. Lamis, Alexander Peter, ‘Southern Two-Party Politics: Dynamics of Electoral Competition in the South Since the Early 1960s’ (Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt University, 1982), pp. 153–154; Peirce, Neal R., The Deep South States of America: People, Politics, and Power in the Seven Deep South States (New York:

1.

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9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

15.

16. 17. 18.

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21. 22.

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W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1974), p. 150; ‘Hard to Take’, Arkansas Democrat, 3 October 1980, p. 13A. Blair and Barth, Arkansas Politics, p. 46. Ibid., pp. 79, 81, 84–85. ‘Light Turnout is Anticipated at State Polls’, Arkansas Gazette, 5 November 1978, p. 1A. ‘5 New Southern Governors Seek Bold Changes Despite the Risks’, New York Times, 25 February 1979, p. 1A. Tucker, Arkansas, p. 105. ‘Clinton Blames “Fundamental” Error’, Arkansas Gazette, 21 November 1980, p. 1A; ‘Clinton takes oath of office as governor for second time’, Arkansas Democrat, 12 January 1983, p. 1A. Tucker, Arkansas, p. 105; Bill Simmons, letter to author, 19 July 2004; Black, Earl, and Black, Merle, Politics and Society in the South (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1989), p. 284. ‘Clinton Blames “Fundamental” Error’, Arkansas Gazette, 21 November, 1980, p. 1A Ernest Dumas, letter to author, 16 July 2004. ‘Schwarzlose to Face Clinton’, Arkansas Gazette, 19 March 1980, p. 2A; ‘Schwarzlose Makes Formal Announcement of Race for Governor’, Arkansas Gazette, 20 March 1980, p. 3A; ‘Editorial from the Pine Bluff Commercial’, Arkansas Gazette, 30 March 1980, p. 3E (note: the Arkansas Gazette regularly published editorials taken from smaller state newspapers); ‘Schwarzlose Gets 31%; Doesn’t Worry Clinton’, Arkansas Gazette, 29 May 1980, p. 1A. ‘Recruiting Republicans’, Arkansas Gazette, 23 March 1980, p. 1E; ‘Low Turnout Forecast in State Primary’, Arkansas Democrat, 22 May 1980, p. 1A. ‘White Criticizes Clinton Methods of Funding Roads’, Arkansas Gazette, 8 May 1980, p. 6A; ‘White Tells City, “It’s Time to Deal”’, Arkansas Democrat, 14 May 1980, p. 17A. ‘White Criticizes Clinton, Advocates Conservative Method of State Spending’, Arkansas Gazette, 23 July 1980, p. 9A. ‘Clinton Spends $74,560 in Primary; White Uses $29,817 in GOP Contest’, Arkansas Gazette, 27 June 1980, p. 7A; ‘An Early Report: Clinton Over White’, Arkansas Gazette, 2 July 1980, p. 17A. Black and Black, Politics and Society, pp. 7, 22; Hadley, Charles D., and Bowman, Lewis, eds. Party Activists in Southern Politics: Mirrors and Makers of Change (Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee Press, 1998), pp. xx–xxiii.

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24. ‘Arkansas’ Liberal Democrats Take Faubus Route’, Arkansas Democrat, 20 August 1980, p. 17A; ‘White, Clark Stress Need For Return To Tradition’, Arkansas Democrat, 5 October 1980, p. 12A. 25. ‘Clinton Responds to White Charges on Radio Program’, Arkansas Gazette, 18 October 1980, p. 1A; ‘Clinton Urges Voters Not To Be Complacent About Reelection Bid’, Arkansas Gazette, 22 October 1980, p. 1A; ‘White Makes Good In Bid For Governor’, Arkansas Democrat, 5 November 1980, p. 1A. 26. Black, Earl, and Black, Merle, The Rise of Southern Republicans (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 70–71. 27. Sabato, Larry, ‘New South Governors and the Governorship’, in James F. Lea, ed., Contemporary Southern Politics (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1988), p. 213. 28. ‘White Urges ‘More Taxes’ For Prisons’, Arkansas Gazette, 12 March 1982, p. 1B; Rob Wiley, email to author, 15 November 2004. 29. Black and Black, The Rise of Southern Republicans, pp. 205–206; ‘Calls Election “A Victory for the Lord”’, Arkansas Gazette, 6 November 1980, p. 1A. 30. Blair, Diane D., and Savage, Robert L., ‘The Appearances of Realignment and Dealignment in Arkansas’, in Robert H. Swansbrough and David M. Brodsky, eds, The South’s New Politics (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1988), pp. 138–139; Bass and DeVries, Transformation of Southern Politics, p. 97; Dumas, Ernest, The Clintons of Arkansas: An Introduction By Those Who Knew Them Best (Fayetteville, AR: The University of Arkansas Press, 1993), p. 156. 31. Steed, Robert P., Clark, John A., Bowman, Lewis and Hadley, Charles D., eds, Party Organization and Activism in the American South (Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 1998), p. 151. 32. ‘Clinton Studies, Discards Session Call’, Arkansas Gazette, 18 November 1980, p. 1A. 33. ‘Clinton Being Considered for Democratic Chairman’, Arkansas Gazette, 12 November 1980, p. 1A; ‘The Race Goes to the Wire: Clinton’, Arkansas Gazette, 23 May 1982, p. 1A. 34. Black and Black, Politics and Society, pp. 313–316. 35. ‘Clinton Makes It Official, Uses Taped Television Ad’, Arkansas Gazette, 9 February 1982, p. 1A; ‘Clinton’s Television Ad Sparks Interest; Apology Appropriate, Tucker Asserts’, Arkansas Gazette, 10 February 1982, p. 1B. 36. ‘The Race Goes to the Wire: Schwarzlose, Hendren’, Arkansas Gazette, 23 May 1982, p. 1A. 37. ‘Upcoming Primary Battle Has Party Leaders Wary’, Arkansas Gazette, 7 February 1982, p. 4H.

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38. Steed, Clark, Bowman, and Hadley, eds, Party Organization and Activism in the American South, p. 150. 39. Hadley and Bowman, eds, Party Activists in Southern Politics, p. xviii. 40. ‘Stop Using Executions As Issue, Clergy Ask’, Arkansas Gazette, 27 May 1982, p. 1B. 41. Seagull, Louis M., Southern Republicanism (New York: Schenkman Publishing Company, Inc., 1975), p. v. 42. ‘Tucker Advises Clinton to Oppose Bethune, Not White’, Arkansas Gazette, 4 January 1982, p. 9A. 43. ‘Gov. White panicking, Clinton Says’, Arkansas Democrat, 21 May 1982, p. 9A; ‘The Race Goes to the Wire: Clinton’, Arkansas Gazette, 23 May 1982, p. 1A.; Clinton Campaign Ad, Arkansas Gazette, 23 May 1982, p. 11A. 44. Miller, Brian Stanford, ‘Car Tags and Cubans: Bill Clinton, Frank White, and Arkansas’ Return to Conservatism’ (Ph.D. diss., University of Mississippi, 2006), p. 256. 45. ‘Clinton Plans Aggressive, Tough Race’, Arkansas Gazette, 21 February 1982, p. 1B; ‘Hendren Backs Executions’, Arkansas Gazette, 25 February 1982, p. 3B; ‘Clinton Announces For “Hot” Campaign’, Arkansas Gazette, 28 February 1982, p. 1A; ‘Wouldn’t Reopen Office In Capital, Clinton Says’, Arkansas Gazette, 4 March 1982, p. 3B; ‘Clinton Officially Enters Race, Says Issues on His Side’, Arkansas Gazette, 25 March 1982, p. 6B; Clinton Calls Purcell Plan “Unrealistic”’ Arkansas Gazette, 5 June 1982, p. 1A; ‘An Obsessed Clinton Led the Devoted In Near-Perfect Return to Political Glory’, Arkansas Gazette, 7 November 1982, p. 1A. 46. ‘White Says Arkansas Taxpayers Can’t Afford Clinton’s Promises’, Arkansas Democrat, 24 October 1982, p. 1B; ‘White Ads Speculate On Political Ambition Of Gubernatorial Foe’, Arkansas Democrat, 27 October 1982, p. 4B; ‘White Promises No Big Changes’, Arkansas Gazette, 28 October 1982, p. 8A; ‘Arkansas Gubernatorial Candidates in Close Race’, New York Times, 28 October 1982, p. 10B. 47. ‘An Obsessed Clinton Led the Devoted In Near-Perfect Return to Political Glory’, Arkansas Gazette, 7 November 1982, p. 1A. 48. ‘“Wait and See,” Clinton says of plans’, Arkansas Democrat, 4 November 1982, p. 1A; ‘Legislative Council O.K.’s state budgets’, Arkansas Democrat, 7 January 1983, p. 14A; ‘Governor Will Focus on 3 Areas’, Arkansas Democrat, 9 January 1983, p. 1A; ‘Clinton Announces Appointment Of Five To Staff Positions’, Arkansas Democrat, 10 January 1983, p. 10B. 49. ‘Black Vote Is the Key To Clinton’s Victory’, Arkansas Gazette, 11 November 1982, p. 23A; ‘Women Voters, a New Political Power, Help Clinton Beat White’, Arkansas Gazette, 21 November, 1982, p. 1A; ‘Riviere Certifies

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Voting Results; No Surprises’, Arkansas Gazette, 21 November 1982, p. 2A; ‘Clinton, ALC to Meet’, Arkansas Gazette, 4 November 1982, p. 1A; ‘Democrats Gain On All Fronts’, New York Times, 4 November 1982, p. 24A. Black and Black, Rise, pp. 172–173; Lamis, ‘Southern Two-Party Politics’, pp. 153–154; Blair and Barth, Arkansas Politics, pp. 63, 68; Gellen, Bill Clinton As They Knew Him, p. 109. Steed, Robert P., Moreland, Laurence W., and Baker, Tod A., eds, Party Politics in the South (New York: Praeger, 1980), p. xi; Black and Black, Politics and Society, p. 289; Prysby, Charles L., ‘Electoral Behavior in the US South: Recent and Emerging Trends’ in Steed, Moreland and Baker, eds, Party Politics in the South, p. 103. ‘It’s over now! Frank White Loses Race With Grace’, Arkansas Democrat, 4 November 1982, p. 9A. ‘Unlike Clinton, White Wouldn’t Change Positions’, Arkansas Gazette, 7 November 1982, p. 11B. Hadley and Bowman, eds, Party Activists in Southern Politics, pp. xxii–xxiii; Hale, Jon F., ‘The Making of the New Democrats’, Political Science Quarterly 110/2 (1995), p. 207; Shafer, Byron E., ‘The Partisan Legacy: Are There Any New Democrats? (And By The Way, Was There A Republican Revolution?)’, in Colin Campbell and Bert A. Rockman, The Clinton Legacy (New York: Chatham House Publishers, 2000), p. 34.

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2 VICISSITUDES: 1992 AND THE ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE MARK WHITE

The presidential campaign of 1992 has become a legendary part of recent American political history. With its mixture of sexual scandal (Gennifer Flowers), colourful characters (such as Ross Perot) and national crisis (the deep recession of the early 1990s), the campaign had the ingredients of a paperback bestseller or a Hollywood blockbuster. Indeed, it did inspire a successful novel and film, Primary Colors, as well as an Oscar-nominated documentary, The War Room. From Bill Clinton’s perspective, the 1992 campaign represented the trial by fire he had to survive in order to secure the presidency. The campaign would expose his shortcomings, as well as test his resilience and his political dexterity. Clinton’s journey from the New Hampshire primary at the start of the year to Election Day in November also foreshadowed his presidency: like his time in the White House, the electoral road to it was dominated by issues of character and by his attempt to fashion an effective Third Way brand of politics. And as with his presidency, Clinton’s ability to succeed in the 1992 campaign

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hinged on perceptions of the state of the American economy and his ability to strengthen it. This essay has four principal objectives: firstly, to review the essential narrative of the 1992 campaign; secondly, to consider how Clinton prevented attacks on his character from derailing his presidential bid; thirdly, to examine Clinton’s attempts at shifting the Democratic Party, ideologically, from a quintessential liberalism to the Third Way; and finally, to provide an overall assessment of Clinton’s ability as a campaigner.

The Campaign The origins of Clinton’s quest for the presidency go back not to 1991–92 but to four years earlier; for in 1987 he had thought seriously about declaring his candidacy for the following year’s presidential campaign. With the Reagan era drawing to a close and the Republicans’ reputation for rectitude damaged by the Iran-Contra scandal, the 1988 election campaign seemed to represent a good opportunity for ambitious Democrats. The young Arkansas governor came very close to throwing his hat into the ring, but at the last minute he decided against it. For one thing, Hillary Clinton was sceptical about the idea, partly because she thought George W. Bush would win what in effect would be Ronald Reagan’s third term. For another, Bill Clinton’s close aide Betsey Wright warned him that his sexual transgressions might well derail his campaign and disrupt his family life. With the recent precedent of Democratic frontrunner Gary Hart being forced out of the 1988 race before it had even begun because of an affair reported in the press, Clinton decided to bide his time. However, the interminable, soporific nominating speech he delivered for Michael Dukakis at the 1988 Democratic Convention appeared to damage severely his presidential aspirations. But an effective appearance on the Johnny Carson show shortly thereafter allowed Clinton to stage what his wife described as, ‘Yet another comeback.’1 Following his landslide re-election in 1990 and with his performance as governor receiving national attention and praise, Clinton seemed handily placed as he mulled over his chances of winning the

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Democratic presidential nomination and the presidency itself in 1992. Two other factors enhanced Clinton’s potential. The first, paradoxically, was Bush’s success in early 1991 in prosecuting the war against Iraq following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. That military triumph raised Bush’s approval rating to a historically unprecedented 91 per cent, which in turn created a strong but ultimately misguided consensus around the idea that Bush was unbeatable in 1992. As a result a number of prominent Democrats – such as Lloyd Bentsen, Al Gore, Richard Gephardt and Bill Bradley – decided against entering the presidential race; and they would have provided sterner opposition in the campaign for the Democratic nomination than that which Clinton ultimately faced.2 Not only were Clinton’s prospects aided by the impact of the Persian Gulf War on the field of Democratic candidates, they were also assisted by the recession that had begun in 1990. That recession served to obscure Bush’s foreign policy accomplishments, transfer the national focus to domestic issues, and to make Bush vulnerable in 1992 in the same way that economic malaise had imperilled the presidencies of Herbert Hoover in 1932 and Jimmy Carter in 1980. What would weaken Bush’s position further was political commentator Pat Buchanan’s announcement that he would challenge the president for the Republican nomination. This put the spotlight on what had long been a problem for Bush: his uneasy relationship with the right of his own party, who viewed him as excessively moderate and hence an unworthy successor to Reagan. Bush’s decision in 1990 to renege on his 1988 campaign promise not to increase taxes, in order to deal with the growing deficit, had angered many conservatives, thereby making them potentially receptive to the sort of challenge from the right posed by Buchanan.3 It was on 3 October 1991, in front of the Old State House in Little Rock, that Clinton officially declared that he was a candidate for president. ‘I refuse to be part of a generation,’ he stated in explaining the rationale behind his presidential bid, ‘that celebrates the death of communism abroad with the loss of the American Dream at home.’ During that autumn, Clinton assembled an effective campaign team of predominantly young operatives who saw in the Arkansas governor

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a candidate capable of loosening the longstanding Republican grip on the presidency. Most notably, Clinton secured the services of James Carville and Paul Begala, the team that had just masterminded Harris Wofford’s surprise, come-from-behind victory in the Pennsylvania Senate race against GOP rival Richard Thornburgh, who had served as Bush’s attorney general. Following Wofford’s victory, Carville and Begala were the hottest property in the world of political consultancy. That they plumped for Clinton rather than the other Democrats who courted them did not escape the attention of the press. George Stephanopoulos, who had built a strong reputation working for Richard Gephardt in the House of Representatives, came on board the Goodship Clinton and would emerge as one of the candidate’s key campaign aides. Dee Dee Myers was appointed as Clinton’s press secretary, whilst Stanley Greenberg served as pollster. Rahm Emanuel proved to be an effectively aggressive fundraiser. Frank Greer, Mandy Grunwald and Bruce Reed also played important roles in the campaign.4 By December 1991, then, Clinton had assembled a formidable campaign team. The potential of his candidacy was underscored that month when he won the Florida delegate straw poll. Another piece of good news that arrived just before Christmas was New York Governor Mario Cuomo’s announcement that he would not be a candidate for president. Cuomo was viewed as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, if he decided to seek it. His name recognition far exceeded Clinton’s. He would have been best placed of all the Democratic candidates to raise funds for a presidential campaign. He was probably the greatest orator America had seen since the days of Martin Luther King. The argument can be made than Cuomo would have found it difficult, as someone perceived as a traditional, New Deal-type Democrat, to compete in the South against a centrist Southerner like Bill Clinton. But given the scandals that beset Clinton’s campaign in early 1992, it seems certain that Democrats would have turned in even greater numbers to a Cuomo candidacy. Bush’s success in the Persian Gulf War was Clinton’s first stroke of luck; Cuomo’s non-entry into the race was his second.5 With Cuomo disappointing millions of liberals by staying on the sidelines, and with other prominent Democrats deciding that Bush’s

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post-Persian Gulf War poll ratings made him unbeatable, the field facing Clinton was far less daunting than it would otherwise have been. Nebraska Senator and Vietnam War hero Bob Kerrey appeared to provide the sternest opposition. But he flattered to deceive: his campaign lacked both energy and a strong theme. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin was a traditional liberal who attracted strong union support. Douglas Wilder, who in 1990 became in Virginia America’s first elected black governor, posed a potential threat to Clinton in the South. But he bowed out before the New Hampshire primary had even taken place. Former California governor Jerry Brown developed a rather eccentric brand of populist politics, though he would prove the most durable of Clinton’s rivals. In the early part of the campaign, though, Clinton’s main opposition was provided by Paul Tsongas, a former Massachusetts senator who had courageously won a personal battle against cancer, because – as Clinton later explained – he was the one other Democrat competing seriously in the realm of policy ideas.6 By early January 1992 Clinton had moved ahead of Tsongas in the polls for what would be the key early test in the Democratic primaries, New Hampshire. That same month an ignominious episode at a state dinner in Japan appeared to accentuate Bush’s vulnerability: he collapsed, with his head resting in the lap of the Japanese Prime Minister. It was due to flu, but that did not prevent rumours of a heart attack from being spread by the media. This incident was, as Bush’s Vice President Dan Quayle recalls, ‘the worst kind of symbolism for a country that was becoming ever more anxious, even paranoid, about Japanese economic strength and business practices.’7 Promising beginnings for Clinton, then. But his past was about to catch up with him. Just as he was outshining his Democratic rivals, two scandals threatened his campaign. The first was the allegation, made in the Rupert Murdoch-owned Star tabloid, that he had cheated on his wife with Gennifer Flowers, a sometime TV reporter and parttime singer. The second was that he had avoided military service in Vietnam. Sex and war – unsurprisingly, it was grist to the media mill. Thus it was in this inauspicious way that Clinton was introduced to the majority of the American people. With the support of his wife,

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most notably in a television interview on 60 Minutes, he survived the sex scandal. The Vietnam issue, however, was more damaging. His poll ratings in New Hampshire dropped precipitously. Campaigning indefatigably through the final stretch of that primary campaign, he managed to come second behind Tsongas. Given that Tsongas was from neighbouring Massachusetts and that the weeks preceding the vote had been dominated by an assault on Clinton’s character, it was an impressive result, justifying the candidate’s description of himself as the ‘Comeback Kid’ in his election-night speech.8 Though Clinton had survived the buffeting of New Hampshire, things did not go swimmingly thereafter. Tsongas won the Maine caucus, and in the South Dakota primary Kerrey and Harkin eclipsed him. In March, Brown won Colorado and Tsongas triumphed in Maryland. That made the Georgia primary crucial for Clinton, as he had still not won a primary. He prevailed there with 57 per cent of the vote, then won even more convincingly in South Carolina. Kerrey dropped out after Georgia, as did Harkin following the South Carolina primary. In the collection of primaries on Super Tuesday, Clinton strengthened his grip on the nomination. Tsongas won in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and in the Delaware caucuses, but Clinton prevailed elsewhere. He went on to win in Illinois and Michigan. Tsongas dropped out in late March, leaving Jerry Brown as Clinton’s one remaining opponent. Brown inflicted some damage on the Clinton campaign, winning the Connecticut primary. But after a harsh examination by the media in the Big Apple, in which the character issue was used again to damn him, Clinton won in New York. Other primary successes followed, and in June he clinched the nomination with victory in a number of states, including California.9 Two factors cast a shadow over Clinton’s sequence of primary successes in the spring of 1992. The first was the emergence of a strong third party candidate in the form of Texan Ross Perot. With his emphasis on the scale of the national debt, Perot’s incipient campaign had focus. His quirky personality, quotable one-liners, palpable dismay at the president’s performance, and background in business rather than politics gave him an intriguing outsider status at a time when many Americans felt cynical about conventional politics and

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politicians. Polls at the end of April put him ahead of Bush, with Clinton in third place. Exit polls at the end of the primary season in June indicated that a good many Democrats planned to vote for Perot in November.10 The second factor to take the gloss off Clinton’s primary victories was the continuing concern over his character. There was a distinct sense that the Democrats were nominating a man whose personal shortcomings made him unelectable. Exit polls taken at the time of the New York primary, for instance, showed that only 49 per cent of voters thought he had the integrity to be president.11 Beginning in the spring, the Clinton campaign mounted a rearguard action to rehabilitate his image and transform his poll ratings. Aide Stan Greenberg devised the Manhattan Project in order to present Clinton to the American people in a more positive light. Clinton utilized free media, appearing on shows such as Arsenio Hall, in a manner unprecedented in presidential campaigns. As one journalist who followed the Clinton campaign put it, he began to operate freely within the sphere of popular culture. His selection of Al Gore as his vice-presidential running mate added credibility to his campaign. Ross Perot withdrew on the eve of the Democratic Convention, suggesting that his candidacy was no longer required as Clinton had ‘revitalized’ the Democratic Party. After a meticulously organized convention, Clinton emerged with a lead of 20 per cent in the polls. ‘Clinton-Gore have gone into orbit,’ Bush remarked gloomily to a friend. A post-Convention bus tour, in which Clinton, Gore, and their spouses visited a number of battleground states, sustained the momentum generated by the Convention.12 In the fall, the Bush campaign – now led by the astute James Baker, on leave from his post as secretary of state – assailed Clinton on the issues of trust and taxes. The organization and ethos of the Clinton campaign team meant that the Democrats, in contrast to the 1988 presidential campaign, would fight fire with fire. Based in Little Rock, and headed up by the brilliant James Carville, the ‘War Room’ ensured a rapid response to any Bush attack and provided Clinton’s campaign with thematic focus: change, economic revival and health care would be its salient issues.13

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A late September Stan Greenberg poll showed that no type of Bush attack could prevent a Clinton victory. But Bush’s opportunity to erode Clinton’s lead came with the three television debates held between 11 and 19 October. As Perot had re-entered the race, these debates were three-way affairs. The second debate, in Richmond, Virginia, which was conducted in a town-hall-meeting format, with questions from the audience, provided the fall campaign with its most memorable moment following a question about how the national debt had affected the candidates personally. Bush answered hesitatingly and unconvincingly, whilst Clinton was at his empathetic, knowledgeable best. As journalist Joe Klein observed, this exchange meant that, for all intents and purposes, the campaign was over.14 The polls did tighten as the election approached and Bush and Perot stepped up their attacks on the frontrunner. Bush took aim at Clinton’s anti-Vietnam War activities during his time at Oxford. He erred, though, by referring publicly to Clinton and Gore as ‘bozos’; it came across as undignified. The final nail in the coffin of the Bush campaign came four days before the election when Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh indicted former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger over the Iran-Contra scandal, and in so doing made clear that Bush had known about the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages deal. On Election Day, Bill Clinton received 43 per cent of the vote, Bush 37 per cent, and Perot 19 per cent. In the electoral college, Clinton’s triumph was more impressive, winning by 370-to-168. Bruised, battered, but unbowed, Clinton had survived the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to bring to an end a period of Republican Party dominance of the presidency.15

Character Clinton’s eventual triumph in 1992 was dependent to a large extent on his ability to withstand the various attacks on his character – or, as his critics saw it, his lack of it. In retrospect, there were early indicators that his personal life would come to constitute part of the political terrain over which the 1992 campaign would be fought. Gary Hart’s implosion in the race for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination,

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caused by his affair with Donna Rice, showed that infidelity could destroy a candidacy. In 1990 Clinton got a taste of things to come as Republicans sought to prevent his re-election as governor by pointing the finger at his personal life. GOP Chairman Lee Atwater, who feared Clinton as a potential presidential candidate, planned for Tommy Robinson to run a vicious campaign against Clinton in 1990 – but his plans were thwarted when Sheffield Nelson defeated Robinson in the Republican primary. Nelson, however, persuaded former Arkansas state official Larry Nichols to make the claim that Clinton had conducted affairs with five women, including Gennifer Flowers. The accused women denied the allegation, thus defusing the issue. Clinton proceeded to win re-election by 18 per cent. If Lee Atwater, whose preference for an iron-fist style of politics without even a hint of kid glove was infamous, had lived, character attacks would have figured even more prominently in the 1992 Republican campaign.16 By the summer of 1991 it became even clearer to Clinton that Republicans would make character a major issue the following year. In July he received a phone call from White House official Roger Porter. The Bush aide was candid: should Clinton run for the presidency, Republicans would use the media to destroy him personally. The threat was based on the fear expressed by Porter that as a centrist Democrat, Clinton would be a more serious threat to Bush than that posed by liberal nominees to Republican presidential candidates in the recent past. Porter’s call had the opposite effect to that intended. Clinton viewed it as contemptible bullying, and it strengthened his determination to run.17 Once he had declared himself a candidate for president in October 1991, Clinton hoped that his skeletons would remain in the closet. Rather than leaving it to chance, he sought to devise a strategy that would prevent personal scandal from wrecking his presidential bid. Accordingly he met at the Washington Court Hotel in September 1991 with a group of close friends to mull over how best to handle the issue. Ignore it or confront it – that was the question. Strong opinions were expressed either way but in the end Clinton decided if he said nothing the rumours swirling around about the state of his marriage might damage his campaign irreparably. So it was that on 16 September at a

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Sperling Breakfast meeting with leading journalists Clinton explained that his marriage had not been perfect. Decoded, that constituted an admission of adultery. Such an acknowledgement, the Clintons calculated, would satisfy the curiosity of journalists, thereby removing the issue of their personal life from the media agenda in 1992. However, the press response to Clinton’s remarks at the Sperling Breakfast indicated that the nation’s scribes would not necessarily remain indifferent to his private life. Whilst the New Republic criticized the media’s obsession with politicians’ personal lives, the Washington Times insisted that a candidate’s character would be a legitimate target for attack in 1992.18 The only personal issue that threatened his equanimity in the autumn of 1991 arose when rock groupie Connie Hamzy alleged that eight years earlier Clinton had propositioned her at a Little Rock hotel. Clinton assured his aides her claim was inaccurate, and his denial was confirmed by others present at the encounter. The Clinton team was able to use all of this to persuade the mainstream media not to run with Hamzy’s uncorroborated account. Clinton’s mother, for one, believed that this would not be the end of the character issue. She predicted to Joe Klein in December 1991 that the press would criticize her son’s personal life intemperately. When the Gennifer Flowers story broke in the midst of the New Hampshire primary, her worst fears were confirmed.19 Gennifer Flowers proved to be only the start of Clinton’s woes in early 1992. Fast on the heels of that scandal came the story about whether he had avoided the draft for the Vietnam War. A 6 February Wall Street Journal article on the subject was influential, and ABC television obtained a copy of the 1969 letter sent by a young Bill Clinton to ROTC commander at the University of Arkansas Colonel Gene Holmes. ‘I want to thank you . . . for saving me from the draft,’ Clinton had told Holmes, and that suggested Clinton’s account of the matter – that after studying at Oxford for a year he had enrolled at the University of Arkansas law school and met his military obligations by joining the ROTC, before deciding instead to return to Oxford, after which a high draft lottery number meant he did not have to serve in Vietnam – was not the full story. What the letter to Holmes

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indicated, as George Stephanopoulos recalls, was that at the very least Clinton had been ‘stringing Holmes along and holding on to his coveted ROTC slot until after he was certain he wouldn’t be drafted.’ The fear that the scandal would end his campaign compelled Clinton to appear on Ted Koppel’s Nightline television show to defend his record on Vietnam. ‘Ted,’ Clinton groused towards the end of the interview, ‘the only times you’ve invited me on this show are to discuss a woman I never slept with and a draft I never dodged.’ Clinton’s second place finish in New Hampshire showed that the Vietnam controversy had not destroyed his campaign, but the issue dogged him throughout the spring, particularly at the time of the New York primary.20 That primary saw the emergence of yet another scandal. During a television debate on 29 March, Clinton revealed: ‘When I was in England [at Oxford], I experimented with marijuana a time or two and I didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale and I never tried it again.’ The New York tabloids had a field day. ‘Clinton on the S-Pot,’ was the New York Post headline, whilst the Daily News joked: ‘Weed Asked Him That.’ To be sure, this seemed a trivial issue to many people. But what elevated it from the risible to the significant was Clinton’s claim that he had not inhaled. That claim was portrayed as a pathetic attempt to deny responsibility for his drug use and an example of his inability to be honest with the American people. In other words, both the admission of drug use and his apparent refusal to be candid about the matter were used to cast doubt, once again, over the candidate’s character.21 One other revelation that spring kept the spotlight on the character issue: Whitewater. An article by Jeff Gerth in the New York Times on 8 March drew attention to a real estate investment made by Clinton and his wife during his time as governor. Dubious business associates, alleged financial impropriety and, once again, character were the aspects of the Whitewater ‘scandal’ that received the most attention. This controversy would rumble along during Clinton’s presidency, and its impact would be profound.22 It is instructive to consider the underlying reasons why Clinton’s private life and character were dissected in these ways. His critics would argue that character is essential in a successful president, and

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hence the lack of rectitude displayed by Clinton in his personal life was a legitimate topic for discussion as Americans evaluated his candidacy. But the extent and intensity of the media and Republican assault on Clinton the man suggested that other, deeper factors exerted an influence. One was what Clinton symbolized to the right in 1992. To his ideological opponents, he was the personification of the values of the 1960s that they saw as responsible for the erosion of traditional American virtues. The lack of family values implied by a hedonistic sexual life, the lack of patriotic commitment suggested by that generation’s scepticism about the Vietnam War, and the lack of character revealed by use of drugs – so much that conservatives despised about the 1960s they saw in Clinton. Put another way, the prospect of a drug-taking, draft-dodging, philandering son of the sixties becoming president and commander-in-chief was – for conservatives – their worst nightmare. Perceiving Clinton as a symbol of liberal, permissive 1960s America made their attacks on him even more virulent than they would otherwise have been. Another underlying reason as to why Clinton’s early years and private life were so scrutinized in 1992 was the shift in American political culture since Watergate. Convinced that Vietnam and Watergate had shown that politicians could not be trusted, the press developed a more adversarial relationship with political leaders. They viewed politicians with a more critical, even a more cynical eye. With the Democrats effectively removing Richard Nixon from the White House in 1974, tensions between themselves and Republicans also increased. The sort of bipartisanship that Lyndon Johnson had at times relied upon for passage of some of his Great Society programmes, or indeed Johnson’s own generally amiable relationship as Senate majority leader the previous decade with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, became less apparent. The politeness and cooperation often evident in the past was to a large extent replaced by a vicious partisan warfare. In that sense, Newt Gingrich’s rise to prominence in the 1990s was the culmination of a trend. In the 1930s and 1950s Clinton’s personal foibles would have mattered not one jot. But in the more poisonous and febrile atmosphere of 1990s America those shortcomings were grist to the mill of prurient journalists and political opponents.23

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One other factor underpinned some of the obsessive interest in Clinton’s private life: his glamour. The argument can be made that his youth, good looks and charisma heightened the interest of the media and perhaps the American people in Clinton’s personal life. Consider, for instance, the widespread fascination in contemporary popular culture and academic discourse with the private life of glamorous John Kennedy in comparison to the relative disinterest in the private exploits of the craggy but equally libidinous Lyndon Johnson. Compare, too, the saturated coverage of Clinton’s personal life with the reluctance to investigate George Bush, Sr, with anything like the same zeal, despite the rumours of infidelity as well as the specific allegation made in the midst of the 1992 campaign that he had had an affair with State Department official Jennifer Fitzgerald. When a CNN reporter asked Bush about the veracity of the story, he snapped: ‘I’m not going to take any sleazy questions like that.’ And that, essentially, was that. The media showed little inclination to pursue the story. How different to the doggedness they brought to bear in reporting on Clinton’s private life. It is speculative, but it does seem to be the case that both the media and the public are drawn more to the private lives of those individuals they perceive as attractive and glamorous.24 Whatever the underlying reasons for the dissection of Clinton’s character in 1992, surviving the personal attacks was essential if he were to win the Democratic presidential nomination and then the presidency itself. That he was able to do so was due to the economic context against which the campaign unfolded, the organization and ethos of the Clinton campaign team, the role played by Hillary Clinton, and to a variety of cogent arguments made by Bill Clinton in response to the criticisms of his character. The fact that Clinton’s campaign took place at the time of a severe recession meant that millions of Americans – concerned about their job prospects, their health coverage, and other important issues – were more interested in matters of substance than personal scandal. Hence Clinton was able to claim that the attacks on his private life were deleterious to the national interest because they lessened the focus on issues of real concern to recession-afflicted Americans. This is precisely what he said on Phil Donahue’s talk-show, in the run-up

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to the New York primary, as the host hammered away at his alleged infidelities: Believe it or not, Phil, there are people out there with futures that are worth fighting for, but it’s very difficult, because people like you don’t want me to. I don’t believe that I or any other decent human being should have to put up with the kind of questioning you’re putting me through now. I think this is debasing our politics.25 After George Bush’s successfully aggressive campaign against Michael Dukakis in 1988 it was easy for Republican strategists to believe that a similarly abrasive approach would work in 1992, especially as Clinton’s personal foibles left him so vulnerable to attack. Privately, Clinton told Dukakis in 1988 to respond to Bush’s criticisms – to fight back hard – but Dukakis, as Clinton put it to his former and future adviser Dick Morris, felt that was beneath him. Four years later, Clinton was determined not to repeat Dukakis’s mistakes: he would be vigilant in defending himself against not only Republican criticisms but those from the media as well. Hence at the end of March 1992 he hired Betsey Wright, who had served him long and loyally during the 1980s, as director of damage control. Once she realized a journalist was investigating a particular subject, she would phone him or her – before anything had been published – to give the campaign’s slant on the issue. As well as anticipating media attacks, the Clinton team did to Bush what some of the president’s advisers were doing to Clinton: they collected dirt on their opponent. Information about Bush’s alleged affairs was filed away. The hope was that this would discourage the Bush team from focusing excessively on Clinton’s private life. It is instructive to note that whilst Bush did focus on the issue of character in the autumn campaign, emphasizing Clinton’s avoidance of the Vietnam draft as well as his 1969–70 trip through northern Europe that took in the Soviet Union, he steered clear of the subject of Clinton’s infidelities.26 It was not just the preparation undertaken by Clinton’s advisers in anticipation of character attacks that was important, it was the

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alacrity with which they responded when those attacks took place. The James Carville-led War Room was instrumental in developing this rapid-response approach. Carville emphasized the campaign’s mind-set by sporting a t-shirt which read: ‘Speed Kills . . . Bush.’ As Stephanopoulos recalls, ‘our goal was to ensure that no unanswered attack reached real people.’ Computer and satellite technology was used to achieve this objective in a way that made the Dukakis campaign seem archaic. Sometimes the War Room’s satellite dish intercepted an unaired GOP commercial that was being sent to a local affiliate. During the Republican Convention, the War Room used a SWAT team to infiltrate the Houston Astrodome and to release a response to Bush’s convention address before he had even delivered it.27 Hillary Clinton, too, played a vital role in ensuring her husband survived the personal criticisms. Her support was articulated in both public and private. At the height of the Gennifer Flowers controversy she agreed to appear with Bill Clinton on 60 Minutes before a massive television audience immediately following the Super Bowl. Her backing was strong and unequivocal: she loved and honoured her husband, she said, and her support was genuine, not perfunctory. Hillary Clinton’s comments on this and other occasions created a dynamic whereby millions of Americans felt that if she could back him despite his failings, they could as well. Privately, her support was no less robust. After Gennifer Flowers gave a press conference in which she played tapes of her phone conversations with Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton raised the morale of campaign workers with an upbeat conference call from Minnesota. It is difficult to imagine Bill Clinton surviving the trials and tribulations of 1992 without the steadfast support he received from his wife.28 As well as the impact of the recession, the effectiveness of the Clinton campaign team, and the contribution made by Hillary Clinton, the skill with which Bill Clinton refuted the critique of his character enabled him to survive the personal accusations. In response to the claim that his character was flawed, he made a series of generally persuasive arguments. Firstly, he maintained that focus on his private life meant that due attention was not being given to serious matters of policy at a time when the American people, sobered by the ongoing recession,

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were more interested in substantive policy proposals than sleazy personal attacks. Secondly, he suggested that the scandals reflected more the viciousness with which conservatives were attacking him than they did his own shortcomings. The intemperate criticisms made by Republicans – notably at the GOP Convention in August – added weight to Clinton’s claim. The search instigated by the Bush team into Clinton’s passport files in the run-up to the television debates in October also substantiated Clinton’s argument. In the first television debate on 11 October in St. Louis, he accused Bush of making a McCarthyite assault on his patriotism. Scholars Dhavan Shah, Mark Watts, David Domke and David Fan have asserted that during Clinton’s presidency the public came to view the focus on personal scandal as the handiwork of a mean-spirited conservative elite. That argument is equally applicable to the 1992 campaign.29 Thirdly, Clinton defended himself by putting his alleged misdemeanours in a historical context. He was being evaluated, he maintained, by a different and stricter standard than that which had been used to assess his predecessors. That was unfair, he implied, and had previous candidates been judged as he had the United States would have been deprived of many of its finest presidents. When Helen Thomas asked him in the third television debate with Bush and Perot about the draft issue, Clinton pointed out that Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt had not served in the military, and that Lincoln had opposed the Mexican War. It was an argument Clinton would continue to make in later years. In his memoirs, he argued that many of the presidential greats, scrutinized as he was in 1992, would have struggled to be elected. Washington with his questionable expense accounts from the Revolutionary War, Jefferson with his womanizing, and Lincoln with his depression would – Clinton wrote – have not fared well in the political climate of 1990s America.30 Fourthly, Clinton framed the character issue so that it represented a challenge for the American people. They could prove, he suggested, that they were not influenced by sleazy politics by voting for him. ‘I’ve taken my character test,’ he declared in San Antonio at the height

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of the Gennifer Flowers controversy. ‘Now the character test is what you do with “cash for trash”.’ It was a line of argument akin to John Kennedy’s on the religious issue in 1960. Voters could show they would not succumb to anti-Catholic bigotry by voting for him, JFK suggested. Likewise voters could demonstrate they paid no heed to tabloid sleaziness, Clinton argued, by backing his candidacy.31 Fifthly, Clinton sought to broaden the prevailing definition of character so that it encompassed policy ideas and not just personal peccadillos. Such a definition of character played more to his strengths, with his encyclopedic knowledge of the issues and his carefully-thought-out set of proposals, and minimized the impact of his personal shortcomings. During the second presidential debate, for instance, he stated that he was not interested in Bush’s character and was focused instead on changing the character of the presidency. What was important, he argued, was which policies could each of them be trusted to carry out as president. In other words, policy was a character issue too.32 This cluster of arguments, therefore, helped Clinton to repel the attacks on his character in 1992. They represented an adroit response to what became a severe impediment to his chances of reaching the White House. Though Clinton survived this critique of his character, the questions remain: were his critics justified in 1992 in emphasizing his private shortcomings? Was his character highly flawed? Did the scandals of 1992 reflect major personal failings? In fact, they did not. The issue of marijuana use was always a transparently trivial one. Moreover, we know from the recollections of journalist Martin Walker that when Clinton said he had tried marijuana but did not inhale he was in fact telling the truth. Whitewater, a land deal in which the Clintons had lost money, amounted to nothing – as an investigation lasting years, costing millions of dollars and carried out by an over-zealous independent counsel, Kenneth Starr, finally proved. On the Gennifer Flowers matter, Clinton did later acknowledge there had been an affair. But to have used fidelity as a yardstick for the presidency in the twentieth century would have excluded FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson – whereas some of the more incompetent chief executives had led spotless personal lives, as did the most corrupt twentieth-century president, Richard Nixon. In other words, the Gennifer

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Flowers story had no bearing on Clinton’s prospective ability to lead the nation. Unlike the above issues, the question of the Vietnam draft did merit serious discussion. Vietnam was the key foreign policy matter of the late 1960s, and Clinton was already politically active by that point. However, an even-handed review of the issue does not expose Clinton as a reprobate. As James Carville argued, a careful reading of the letter Clinton sent to Colonel Holmes in 1969 reveals a young man who was impressive in many respects: in possession of a mature intellect, passionately opposed to the war in Vietnam and to racial division in the United States, and in a state of genuine anguish over how he should respond personally to the possibility of military service. In this final respect, his dilemma reflected that which confronted many of his generation. To be sure, he could have been more forthcoming in 1992 about his experiences in 1969. But a story almost a quarter-century old, which in fact showed Clinton’s strong opposition to a war that turned out to be a disaster, should not have been viewed as any sort of bar to his bid for the presidency.33

Ideology ‘New Democrat’ ideology, as well as character, was one of the salient issues in the 1992 campaign. Uppermost in Clinton’s mind as he began his quest for the White House was the fact that Republicans had won five of the previous six presidential elections. Underpinning that reality were some broad shifts in the political map of America: the South had gone from being solidly Democratic to solidly Republican; many of the northern, urban working-class, who had usually voted Democratic in the past, were now backing Republican candidates (Reagan Democrats). It seemed to be the case that a quintessential liberalism, as expressed by the New Deal or the Great Society, no longer found favour with the American people. Clinton’s own political experiences confirmed that impression. After introducing various progressive policies as a young, idealistic governor of Arkansas in the late 1970s, he was defeated in his bid for re-election in 1980 – and only recaptured the governorship two years later after shifting to the centre. The argument has also been made that a centrist approach

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appealed to Clinton psychologically: his bruising childhood, that could have been out of a Tennessee Williams play, left him with an inveterate desire to avoid conflict by pleasing as many people as possible.34 It was one thing to believe the Democratic Party needed to move to the centre, another to translate that notion into a coherent set of principles and policy proposals. Clinton began to do just that in the wake of Democratic candidate Walter Mondale’s defeat in the 1984 presidential election to Ronald Reagan. But the forum which was of critical importance in aiding this process for Clinton was the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), launched in 1985 in response to the (unsuccessful) leftward tilt of the Democratic Party over the previous two decades. Unsurprisingly, Southerners were prominent in the DLC. For his part, Clinton was a founding member, and a few years later became chairman. The discourse in the DLC served to sharpen Clinton’s thinking on the future direction of his party, and so paved the way ideologically for his presidential campaign.35 Influenced by the DLC, then, Clinton came to believe that Democrats should support fiscal responsibility rather than inordinate government spending, responsible social behaviour on the part of the poor, an assertive foreign policy, the use of market mechanisms to achieve policy objectives, a tough approach to crime, and a commitment to the middle class and not just to the poor. In his speech in Cleveland in May 1991 at the DLC’s annual convention, Clinton developed these themes in what DLC President Al From described as the finest explication of New Democrat thinking he had ever heard. After enumerating the ways in which middle-class Americans had been struggling, he asked why it was that they had not turned to Democrats for solutions to their problems: ‘I’ll tell you why: because too many of the people who used to vote for us, the very burdened middle class we are talking about, have not trusted us in national elections to defend our national interests abroad, to put their values into our social policy at home, or to take their tax money and spend it with discipline.’ ‘Our burden is to give the people a new choice,’ he continued, ‘rooted in old values, a new choice that is simple, that offers opportunity, demands responsibility, gives citizens more say,

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provides them with responsive government – all because we recognize that we are a community. We are all in this together, and we are going up and down together.’36 That address signposted what would be the major themes of Clinton’s bid for the presidency. Throughout his campaign, he provided a rhetorical elaboration of those themes, most notably in his 3 October 1991 Little Rock speech in which he declared that he was a candidate for president; three addresses at Georgetown between October and December 1991; and his 16 July 1992 speech at the Democratic Convention in New York, in which he accepted his party’s nomination. In the declaration of his candidacy in Little Rock, he identified what for him was the main problem facing America: ‘Middle-class people are spending more hours on the job, spending less time with their children, bringing home a smaller paycheck to pay more for health care and housing and education. Our streets are meaner, our families are broken, our health care is the costliest in the world and we get less for it.’ What was important in devising solutions to these problems was ideological flexibility. America’s leadership should not be ‘limited by old ideologies,’ as, ‘The change we must make isn’t liberal or conservative. It’s both, and it’s different.’ He proceeded to emphasize inter alia the importance of generating economic growth, expanding world trade, tackling crime and drug use robustly, cutting taxes on the middle class, and moving people from welfare to work. Time and again in the speech, he stressed that the group he wanted to focus on was the middle class – not, by implication, the impoverished, as during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, or the very affluent, as in Reagan’s America.37 In his Georgetown speeches in late 1991, Clinton added flesh to the bones of these Third Way ideas. He spoke of his support for the Family and Medical Leave Act (so that workers could take time off to care for a baby or an ailing family member); the Brady bill, which would introduce a waiting period for the purchase of handguns, thereby preventing criminals from buying them; the introduction of 100,000 new community police officers; an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit to make work more appealing. These proposals made clear that

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Clinton was interested in strengthening families, tackling criminals and reforming welfare. His claim that he was a New Democrat now seemed credible.38 His July 1992 Convention speech in New York added to that impression. ‘An expanding, entrepreneurial economy of high-wage, high-skill jobs,’ to help the forgotten middle class was his main objective, Clinton declared. He expressed his determination to reduce the number of bureaucrats working for the federal government by 100,000, and told the audience of Democrats, ‘it’s time for us to realize that we’ve got some changing to do, too. There is not a program in government for every problem. And if we want to use government to help people, we’ve got to make it work again.’ Making the case for a Third Way approach, he asserted that, ‘Trickle-down economics has sure failed. And big bureaucracies, both private and public, they’ve failed, too.’ He once again emphasized his core principles of opportunity, responsibility and community.39 During the fall campaign against George Bush (and Ross Perot), Clinton sang from the same hymn sheet. His television commercials in October 1992 highlighted the very low taxes he had imposed in Arkansas. They also depicted himself and Al Gore as part of a new generation of Democrats committed to spending cuts, welfare reform, and a tough-on-crime approach. The dire state of the economy under Bush was also stressed.40 Whilst Clinton concentrated on the domestic issues that so concerned the American people during the economic downturn of the early 1990s, he did address international affairs too. In a sense, this would appear to have been Bush’s trump card. On his watch in the White House the Berlin Wall had come down, the Russian empire in Eastern Europe had crumbled, and the Soviet Union itself had disintegrated. The West – and the United States in particular – had won the Cold War. That victory over communism, however, entailing as it did a diminished sense of overseas threat towards the United States, rendered foreign policy far less important to voters than it had been during the Cold War. When Clinton did discuss foreign affairs, however, he did so in a manner that made it difficult for Republicans to depict him as too

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timid and liberal in his approach to the application of power on the world stage. It was reminiscent of the way John Kennedy had prevented Richard Nixon from accusing him of being ‘soft’ on communism by castigating Republicans for the ‘loss’ of Cuba to Fidel Castro in 1959 and for allowing a ‘missile gap’ to develop between the superpowers to the advantage of the Soviets. In Clinton’s case, he made clear in his 1992 campaign book Putting People First that, ‘We will not shrink from using military force responsibly, and a Clinton-Gore Administration will maintain the forces needed to win, and win decisively, should that necessity arise.’ On specific issues Clinton furthered the impression that he was a New Democrat in the sense that he would not be averse to intervention and confrontation. He chided the Bush administration for remaining too passive as civil war broke out in Yugoslavia, and pledged to end China’s ‘most-favored-nation’ trading status with the United States unless it improved its human rights record.41 So adroit was Clinton’s New Democrat strategy that he managed to eradicate the in-built advantage enjoyed by Republicans on various issues. On no subject was this more apparent than with crime. In 1988 public-confidence ratings in Bush far exceeded those of Dukakis when it came to crime. This was largely because Bush was able to portray Dukakis as ‘soft’ on the issue because of his opposition to the death penalty. As Clinton supported the death penalty – as demonstrated by his return from New Hampshire to Arkansas on 24 January 1992 to oversee the execution of brain-damaged Rickey Ray Rector, who had been convicted of murder – the death-penalty issue was effectively neutralized. This moved the debate from that of punishment to prevention. Whereas Republicans had said little about this, Clinton had specific proposals on using federal dollars to put 100,000 more police on the streets, and utilizing federal laws to bring about greater gun control. So effective was Clinton’s handling of the issue that polling data showed that the public came to have slightly more confidence in Clinton than in Bush on crime. (This trend would continue, as by 1996 the public had substantially more faith in Clinton than in Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole on the crime issue.)42 So much about Clinton’s 1992 campaign, therefore, suggested he was a new, centrist Democrat rather than an old-fashioned liberal

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like recent Democratic presidential candidates Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. At the same time his campaign had a highly effective hybridity in that, although it was designed to appeal to moderate and even conservative voters, there was enough about it to keep liberals on board. While he called for fiscal prudence and a middle-class tax cut, he also proposed a tax increase for those making more than $200,000 a year and a major programme of government investment in such areas as education, transportation and job training. Indeed four months before he declared he was running for the White House, he was already putting pressure on Harvard economist and old friend Robert Reich to fine-tune his future campaign’s public-investment proposals. Though he would find it difficult to implement as president, this public-investment plan remained a prominent feature of his campaign. Clinton also made an unequivocal commitment to a woman’s right to choose an abortion, a position that contrasted with Bush’s. This was important as statistical analysis of voting patterns in the 1992 election has established that there were far more pro-choice Republicans who supported Clinton than pro-life Democrats who defected to the GOP. Most conspicuous in terms of the progressive facet of Clinton’s campaign was his pledge to introduce universal health-care coverage. Thrilling liberals throughout the nation, he vowed to fight avaricious drug companies and recalcitrant bureaucracies in order to achieve that objective.43 In putting together this set of proposals that could make him competitive in the political centre whilst retaining liberal support, Clinton’s campaign was not unprecedented in American history. John Kennedy, in 1960, adopted roughly the same approach. His hard-line foreign policy proposals reflected his own convictions but were also aimed at convincing the electorate he was not a typical liberal like Adlai Stevenson. He subsequently appointed several Republicans to key positions in his administration with the same purpose in mind. Jimmy Carter’s campaign in 1976 and his presidency thereafter also anticipated Clinton’s overall approach in 1992. Never before, though, had this centrist strategy, this fusion of liberal and conservative priorities, been so precisely and systematically formulated as it was in Clinton’s presidential campaign. Indeed his fashioning of an appealing Third Way/

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New Democrat agenda represented a major achievement. Ultimately, it influenced and energized the centre-left throughout the world. Tony Blair’s New Labour in Britain was but one of many political parties to be influenced by the ideas articulated by Clinton in 1992. It was not only through his rhetoric and policy proposals that Clinton was able to define himself as a New Democrat. The way he sharply differentiated himself from prominent liberals also helped him to achieve that objective. Ever since his scintillating indictment of Reaganism at the 1984 Democratic Convention, New York Governor Mario Cuomo had been regarded as both the finest orator and the leading liberal in the land. Prior to his announcement five days before Christmas 1991 that he would not seek the presidency in 1992, he was viewed as the favourite for the Democratic presidential nomination. Before his withdrawal from the race, Clinton and his advisers sought to put clear blue water between Cuomo and Clinton. Hence when Cuomo, in a press interview, criticized Clinton’s stance on welfare and national service, the Clinton team used the opportunity to make the case that Cuomo’s objections showed that Clinton was a new sort of Democrat, not an old-fashioned liberal like the New York governor.44 The simmering tension between Clinton and Jesse Jackson in 1991–92 was even more important in enabling the Arkansas governor to demonstrate he was not an unreconstructed liberal. In his campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, Jackson had thrilled many Democrats with his impassioned plea for social justice. Inspiring to liberals, to be sure, but the effectiveness of Jackson’s campaigns was more questionable when it came to appealing to moderate swing voters. As Stephanopoulos has disclosed, part of Clinton’s strategy was not to appear too obsequious to Jackson in part so as not to lose white votes. In fact, Jackson’s own role served to accentuate his differences with Clinton. He remained critical of the DLC, with which Clinton was so closely associated. He attacked Clinton in the primary of his home state of South Carolina, and during the New York primary backed not Clinton, who by that point was certain to win the nomination, but Jerry Brown.45 An inadvertent episode on 26 January 1992 further exacerbated tensions between Clinton and Jackson. In unguarded remarks – he

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was not aware that an open microphone was recording him – Clinton exploded on being told (erroneously) by a reporter that Jackson had decided to support Tom Harkin: ‘It’s an outrage, it’s a dirty, doublecrossing, back-stabbing thing to do.’ On the one hand, his angry outburst was embarrassing. On the other, it made clear that Clinton and Jackson were hardly joined at the hip.46 Clinton also managed to distance himself from Jackson by design as well as by accident. Not only did he limit Jackson’s role at the convention, he publicly clashed with Jackson a month earlier over rapper Sister Souljah’s comments about how blacks should kill whites rather than blacks for a change. Clinton condemned the remarks in a speech before Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition in Washington, a meeting which Sister Souljah had attended the previous evening. ‘Her comments before and after Los Angeles,’ he said, ‘were filled with a kind of hatred that you do not honor.’ He compared her remarks to the sort of rhetoric used by ex-Nazi David Duke. Jackson claimed that Sister Souljah’s comments had been misunderstood. And some viewed Clinton’s criticism of her as simply an attempt to court white voters. Other observers – for instance, the New York Times – applauded him for denouncing comments that were provocative and hateful. The distance separating Clinton and Jackson at the start of the campaign had become a chasm, and that was helpful to Clinton in highlighting his determination to move away from traditional liberal leaders and policies and towards the Third Way.47 Two other Clinton strategies in the spring and summer of 1992 enabled him to develop an authentic image as a New Democrat. One was his decision to confront Jerry Brown when he assailed Hillary Clinton during a television debate in Chicago for an alleged conflict of interest involving the Rose Law Firm for which she worked. An angry Clinton tore into Brown: ‘I don’t care what you say about me. But you ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife. You’re not worth being on the same platform as my wife.’ Part of the right’s critique of liberalism, implicitly, was the notion that the left suffered from a machismo deficit – too soft on communism, too soft on crime, too soft on welfare cheats. Clinton’s robust defence of his wife suggested that he was not cut from the same cloth as liberal

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Democrats. This helped shore up his support from blue-collar Reagan Democrats.48 The selection of Al Gore as his vice-presidential running mate also buttressed Clinton’s New Democrat credentials. Invariably, presidential nominees chose running mates who provided geographical and ideological balance to the ticket, such as JFK and Johnson, Carter and Mondale, Dukakis and Bentsen. In plumping for Gore, Clinton boldly ignored that tradition. He put alongside himself another son of the South, another prominent member of the DLC, someone viewed as a centrist and not as a liberal. The selection of Gore added weight to Clinton’s claim that he was a New Democrat.49

Conclusion Enduring the constant attacks on his character, crafting a Third Way message, Clinton prevailed in 1992. However one weighs the pros and cons of Clinton as a politician and as a president, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he was one of the most redoubtable campaigners in American history – and this was one of his greatest assets. There have been few if any presidential candidates in American history with a more encyclopedic knowledge of the issues. A very intelligent man with a highly retentive mind, he had applied himself studiously for many years to a range of social and political issues. It was said that when asked about housing policy, for example, he could explain the reforms being carried out in this area in every state in America. What the three televised presidential debates revealed was that Clinton was simply far better informed than Bush or Perot. His answers were more detailed, precise and authoritative.50 As well as the breadth of his knowledge of policy, his famed empathy was a major asset on the campaign trail. He met Americans who told him candidly about their difficulties, for instance in obtaining access to affordable health care, and he listened to their stories with genuine interest – and took the information they furnished on board in fine-tuning his views and message. But his sympathetic concern was of particular value given the context of recession. Millions of Americans were suffering in 1992. The empathy he displayed acted

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as a balm to the hurt felt by Americans who were out of work or in straitened circumstances some other way.51 Durability was another admirable trait displayed by Clinton in 1992. Previous candidates had been forced to withdraw from presidential campaigns having received far less criticism than Clinton endured. A sex scandal, the accusation he had dodged military service in Vietnam, the admission of drug use and the Whitewater allegations threatened his campaign. That he survived all of these attacks on his character, paradoxically, said much for his character – his durability, determination and toughness. More timid souls would have withdrawn into themselves and ultimately from the campaign. But Clinton simply kept going. His tireless campaigning that saved him in New Hampshire, following the Gennifer Flowers and Vietnam-draft controversies, was commendable and has rightly become the stuff of legend.52 What also impressed about Clinton in 1992 was the way he projected a socially inclusive, and especially a racially inclusive, message. Some previous presidential candidates had campaigned by dividing Americans – for example, by exploiting white fears of African Americans. George Bush in 1988 was a case in point. Clinton, however, chartered a more enlightened course. Precocious on racial matters as a youngster, he continued to show a particular sensitivity on the issue of race in later years. There had been no previous (white) presidential candidate who counted so many African Americans among his close friends. And this informed his campaign. In November 1991 he dazzled Stephanopoulos with a racially inclusive speech he gave in Memphis, in which he still told the largely African American audience that people needed to take responsibility, and so those on welfare who could work should work. It reminded Stephanopoulos of Robert Kennedy’s message and leadership in the 1960s. More remarkably, during the Michigan primary, Clinton delivered an address to whites in the Reagan-Democrat land of Macomb County, near Detroit, in which he urged them to reach across the racial divide to blacks; and gave another speech to blacks in inner-city Detroit about the need for responsible behaviour and hence the importance of welfare reform, child-support enforcement and anti-crime initiatives.53

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In his July 1992 address at the Democratic Convention he exhorted Americans to: look beyond the stereotypes that blind us. We need each other. All of us, we need each other. We don’t have a person to waste. And yet, for too long politicians have told the most of us that are doing all right that what’s really wrong with America is the rest of us. Them. Them the minorities. Them the liberals. Them the poor. Them the homeless. Them the people with disabilities. Them the gays. We’ve gotten to where we’ve nearly them’d ourselves to death. Them, and them, and them. But this is America. There is no them; there is only us. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all.54 Bill Clinton succeeded in reaching the White House. Along the way, he helped reshape the Democratic Party ideologically in ways that would influence centre-left leaders throughout the world. He showed enormous resilience in surviving the frequent and intemperate and generally unjustified attacks on his character. Moreover, he prevailed whilst, commendably, appealing to America’s ‘better angels’.

Notes 1.

2.

3. 4.

Clinton, Hillary Rodham, Living History (London: Headline, 2003), pp. 96–98; Hamilton, Nigel, Bill Clinton: An American Journey (London: Century, 2003), p. 451. Blumenthal, Sidney, The Clinton Wars (London: Penguin, 2004 reprint), pp. 20–22. For a lucid, fluent account of the 1992 campaign, see Germond, Jack W., and Witcover, Jules, Mad as Hell: Revolt at the Ballot Box, 1992 (New York: Warner Books, 1993). Quayle, Dan, Standing Firm: A Vice-Presidential Memoir (New York: HarperCollins, 1994), p. 300. Clinton, Bill, ‘Announcement Speech’, 3 October 1991, in Bill Clinton and Al Gore, Putting People First: How We Can All Change America (New York: Times Books, 1992), pp. 187–88; Walker, Martin, Clinton: The President They Deserve, rev. ed. (London: Vintage, 1997), pp. 120–21; Clinton, Bill, My Life (New York: Knopf), pp. 370, 376–77, 406.

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62 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

13.

14.

15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

20.

21.

22. 23. 24.

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Walker, Clinton, pp. 121–22. Clinton, My Life, pp. 379–80, 384. Quayle, Standing Firm, pp. 296–98. Stephanopoulos, George, All Too Human: A Political Education (Boston: Little, Brown, 1999), pp. 56–62, 64–77, 79–80; Hamilton, Bill Clinton, p. 635. Clinton, My Life, pp. 392–95, 397–410. Perot, Ross, United We Stand: How We Can Take Back Our Country (New York: Hyperion Books, 1992); Clinton, My Life, pp. 408, 410. Clinton, My Life, p. 408. Stephanopoulos, All Too Human, pp. 82–83; Klein, Joe, The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2002), p. 41; Clinton, My Life, pp. 414–15, 421; Quayle, Standing Firm, p. 312; letter from George Bush to Hugh Gregg, 21 July 1992, in Bush, George, All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters (New York: Scribner, 1999), p. 564; Kramer, Michael, ‘Front and Center’, Time, 27 July 1992. Matalin, Mary, and Carville, James, with Knobler, Peter, All’s Fair: Love, War, and Running for President (London: Hutchinson, 1994), pp. 243–45, 299–300. Stephanopoulos, All Too Human, p. 98; transcript of second TV debate between Bush, Clinton and Perot, New York Times, 16 October 1992; Klein, The Natural, pp. 42–43. Clinton, My Life, pp. 441, 444. Blumenthal, Clinton Wars, pp. 35–37. Clinton, My Life, pp. 368–69. Walker, Clinton, pp. 118–19; Blumenthal, Clinton Wars, pp. 37–38. Stephanopoulos, All Too Human, pp. 53–62; Klein, The Natural, p. 23. For her own account, see Flowers, Gennifer, Passion and Betrayal (Del Mar, CA: Emery Dalton Books, 1995). Stephanopoulos, All Too Human, pp. 69–77. For an example of the press coverage of Clinton and Vietnam, see Kramer, Michael, ‘The Political Interest: The Vulture Watch, Chapter 2’, Time, 17 February 1992. Klein, The Natural, p. 11; Matalin and Carville, All’s Fair, pp. 167–69; Allen, Charles F., and Portis, Jonathan, The Comeback Kid: The Life and Career of Bill Clinton (New York: Birch Lane Press, 1992), pp. 237–38; Allis, Sam, ‘Democrats Watch Yer Back’, Time, 13 April 1992. Blumenthal, Clinton Wars, pp. 41–44. Klein, The Natural, pp. 85–119. White, Mark J., ‘Behind Closed Doors: The Private Life of a Public Man’, in White, ed., Kennedy: The New Frontier Revisited (New York: New York University Press, 1998), p. 262; ‘The 1992 Campaign; Bush Angrily Denies a Report of an Affair’, New York Times, 12 August 1992.

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25. Allen and Portis, Comeback Kid, p. 240. 26. Morris, Dick, Behind the Oval Office (New York: Random House, 1997), pp. 7–8; Allen and Portis, Comeback Kid, pp. 238–39; Walker, Clinton, pp. 141–42. 27. Clinton, Living History, p. 114; Stephanopoulos, All Too Human, pp. 86–88, 91. 28. Clinton, My Life, pp. 385–86; Stephanopoulos, All Too Human, p. 69. 29. Clinton, My Life, pp. 432–34; Shah, Dhavan V., Watts, Mark D., Domke, David and Fan, David P., ‘News Framing and Cueing of Issue Regimes: Explaining Clinton’s Public Approval in Spite of Scandal’, Public Opinion Quarterly 66/3 (2002), pp. 339–70. 30. Transcript of third TV debate between Bush, Clinton and Perot, New York Times, 20 October 1992; Clinton, My Life, p. 438. 31. Allen and Portis, Comeback Kid, p. 197. 32. Transcript of second TV debate, New York Times, 16 October 1992. 33. Walker, Clinton, p. 134; Clinton, My Life, p. 387; Stephanopoulos: All Too Human, p. 75. For Clinton’s 1969 letter to Holmes, see Maraniss, David, First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), pp. 199–204. The interpretation of the letter developed by Maraniss is less positive than my own. 34. Wayne, Stephen J., ‘Clinton’s Legacy: The Clinton Persona’, PS: Political Science and Politics 32/3 (1999), pp. 558–61. 35. Maraniss, First in His Class, pp. 417–18; Klein, The Natural, pp. 28–38. 36. Quoted in Klein, The Natural, pp. 38–39. 37. Clinton, ‘Announcement Speech’, pp. 187–198. 38. Clinton, My Life, pp. 380–82. 39. Clinton, Bill, ‘A New Covenant’, 16 July 1992, in Clinton and Gore: Putting People First, pp. 217–32. 40. Bill Clinton Campaign Ads (around October 1992), http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=XoBFL6iwid4 [accessed on 23 March 2011]. 41. Clinton and Gore, Putting People First, p. 132; Baker, James A. with DeFrank, Thomas M., The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War and Peace, 1989–1992 (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995), p. 113; Branch, Taylor, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History in the White House (London: Simon & Schuster, 2009), p. 147. 42. Holian, David B., ‘He’s Stealing My Issues! Clinton’s Crime Rhetoric and the Dynamics of Issue Ownership’, Political Behavior 26/2 (2004), pp. 95–124. 43. Clinton and Gore, Putting People First, pp. 107–111, 194, 228; Reich, Robert B., Locked in the Cabinet (New York: Vintage Books, 1988 paperback ed.), pp. 3–4; Abramowitz, Alan I., ‘It’s Abortion, Stupid: Policy Voting in the 1992 Presidential Election’, Journal of Politics 57/1 (1995), pp. 176–86.

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Stephanopoulos, All Too Human, pp. 47–48. Ibid., p. 44; Clinton, My Life, pp. 365, 394, 402. Allen and Portis, Comeback Kid, pp. 219–20. Editorial, ‘Sister Souljah is no Willie Horton’, New York Times, 17 June 1992. Bill Clinton Versus Jerry Brown 1992, http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=iNI_dMVmuZQ [accessed on 23 March 2011]. Matalin and Carville, All’s Fair, p. 232. Klein, The Natural, p. 26. Clinton, Living History, pp. 115–16. Matalin and Carville, All’s Fair, p. 138. Stephanopoulos, All Too Human, pp. 38–40; Clinton: My Life, pp. 395–96. Clinton, ‘A New Covenant’, p. 229.

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3 A NEW DEMOCR AT’S NEW ECONOMICS IWAN MORGAN

Economic success was the defining achievement of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw, later chair of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, adjudged macroeconomic performance in the 1990s to have been ‘exceptional’. Two liberal economists who served in the Clinton administration labelled its period in office as ‘the fabulous decade’.1 This golden age followed the miseries of stagflation in the 1970s and the erratic performance of the economy under the Republican presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Clinton restored the Democrats’ reputation for competence in economic management that had been established by Franklin D. Roosevelt, consolidated by Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and surrendered by Jimmy Carter. In addition to burnishing his presidency’s reputation in the history books, the vibrant economy was a major factor in keeping Clinton in office. It ensured not only his re-election just two years after the Republican congressional landslide in the midterm contests of 1994, but also the high job approval ratings that helped him escape impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.2

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Headlined by his famous 1992 campaign mantra, ‘It’s the economy, stupid,’ the management of prosperity was Clinton’s main preoccupation as president. He aimed to strengthen the economy in the long-term through a ‘third way’ strategy that eschewed anti-statist conservatism and big-government liberalism. To this end, he promoted himself as a New Democrat pursuing a new economic agenda that differed from Reaganomics and Keynesianism. This essay examines the core elements of what came to be dubbed ‘Clintonomics’: (i) the emphasis on budgetary control; (ii) the role of monetary policy in the 1990s boom; and (iii) adaptation to globalization in foreign economic policy. The final section assesses Clinton’s economic leadership in relation to that of his presidential predecessors. It also considers whether his economic record, which was much lauded in sections of the media when he left office, has stood the test of time.3

Putting the Deficit First Clinton’s 1992 campaign for president focused on jobs and prosperity amidst popular concern about the disappointing pace of economic recovery from the recession of 1990–91. Linking this to the development of globalization, he advocated a programme of public investment to better equip American workers for a world that was fast becoming a seamless web for footloose capital. As outlined in his campaign book, Putting People First, this strategy required massive expansion of federal spending on training, education and infrastructure.4 It drew on the ideas of strategic trade theory that wage stagnation, sluggish productivity and declining competitiveness were interrelated problems. Rejecting Keynesian emphasis on demand management, this doctrine envisaged a supply-side solution to America’s economic problems, but its prescription required new expenditure programmes rather than tax reduction. For strategic traders, such as Lester Thurow, Robert Reich, and Ira Magaziner, economic renewal depended on the development of high-value, highwage, high-tech enterprises because the US could no longer compete in mass-production manufacturing with the low wage economies of developing nations. Accordingly, they deemed it essential to improve

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the skills and productivity of American labour to meet the challenges of a changing international economy.5 Critics charged that strategic trade posited an erroneous association between competitiveness and productivity, and exaggerated the impact of globalization on the increasingly significant service sector of advanced economies.6 Nevertheless this doctrine found a ready adherent in Bill Clinton. Reich and Magaziner, friends from student days, tutored him in its ideas. The Democratic Leadership Council, the centrist ‘New Democrat’ organization that promoted his presidential candidacy, was also a convert to the cause.7 Most significantly, strategic traders envisioned an agenda for America that Clinton was already pursuing as governor to modernize the relatively backward Arkansas economy. Convinced of the necessity for adaptation and change at both national and state levels to ensure future prosperity, he initially regarded public investment as the core of his presidential mission.8 Clinton’s economic priorities changed between his election and inauguration, however. The budget deficit, a secondary theme of his campaign and a problem that he had expected public investmentdriven economic growth to solve, became his overriding concern. Three factors accounted for this. Firstly, independent presidential candidate Ross Perot, who won 19 per cent of the popular vote in the 1992 election, had shaped the public’s perception of the escalating budget deficit as a symbol of national economic decline.9 Secondly, new official forecasts predicted that the fiscal imbalance would mushroom from $290 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 1992 to $650 billion (7 per cent GDP) within a decade under the impact of rising interest payments and entitlement costs.10 Finally, deficit hawks on Clinton’s economic advisory team, led by Wall Street financier Robert Rubin, won the battle for his ear over the hitherto dominant public investors. They convinced him that massive public borrowing would stifle economic growth because it generated an inflationary psychology, crowded out private borrowers from credit markets to the detriment of productive investment, and invariably resulted in higher interest rates. Reinforcing this message, Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan warned Clinton during a visit to Little Rock on 2 December 1992 that the bond market – the loose confederation of

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bankers, financiers, money managers, rich foreigners, and domestic investors that was the main source of credit for US enterprise – would raise long-term interest rates to safeguard the value of loans against the inflationary consequences of budgetary red ink.11 Despite his Slick Willy reputation for expediency, Clinton’s new emphasis on fiscal control entailed considerable political risk for the sake of the economy’s long-term good. The deficit was not set to escalate significantly until the late 1990s and the benefits of reducing it would take several years to show through. Budgetary restraint entailed raising taxes, sacrificing the middle-class tax cut that Clinton had promised in the campaign, and cutting expenditure programmes that benefited important constituencies. Moreover, Clinton pollster Stanley Greenberg warned that Democratic voters, unlike Perot supporters, were far more interested in Putting People First initiatives than deficit reduction.12 Nevertheless, the forty-second president took responsibility for correcting the fiscal legacy of his two Republican predecessors, particularly Ronald Reagan’s predilection for cutting taxes without making compensatory savings in expenditure. ‘So we have to pick up the tab for the Reagan-Bush deficits,’ he groused in private. ‘They got elected by wrecking the economy and I lose re-election by fixing it.’ As Greenspan observed, ‘The hard truth was that Reagan had borrowed from Clinton, and Clinton was having to pay it back . . . . He was forcing himself to live in the real world on the economic outlook and monetary policy.’13 The new administration’s budget plan, which Clinton outlined to Congress in February 1993 and formally submitted in March, effectively aimed to halve the deficit, bringing it down to $140 billion in FY1997. In net terms, this sought aggregate deficit reduction of $473 billion over five years, based on net spending cuts of $191 billion and revenue increases of $281 billion. However, gross savings exceeded $700 billion to allow for the largest public investment programme in American history, comprising $153 billion in new outlays and $77 billion in stimulus and investment incentive tax cuts. Far from being abandoned, public investment was back-loaded in the Clinton plan, which projected steadily increasing annual outlays (from $15 billion to $45 billion) for it over five years. His budget message avowed: ‘Deficit

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reduction at the expense of public investment has been and will continue to be self-defeating.’14 The announcement of the budget plan was the prelude to nearly six months of political battles to secure its enactment by Congress, a struggle that ended with its passage in much amended form. Determined to avoid the intra-party splits generated by George H. W. Bush’s acceptance of a deficit-reduction plan containing tax increases in 1990, Republican leaders signalled their utter opposition to Clinton’s programme. A goodly number of Southern and Western Democrats dissented against the proposed energy and gasoline tax increases. Most significantly, Democratic congressional leaders slashed Clinton’s investment plan to the bone to keep within spending caps agreed as part of the 1990 budget deal after a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis showed that the White House had overestimated the deficit reduction that its budget would deliver. As ‘old’ Democrats, they were unwilling to make further economies in traditional programmatic commitments to accommodate the ‘New Democrat’ priority of public investment.15 Enacted by narrow margins in both chambers in early August, the Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1993 projected net deficit reduction of $432.9 billion over five years ($240.6 billion in revenue enhancement, $192.3 billion in spending cuts). With the exception of the investment programme’s diminution, the outcome represented a substantial political triumph for Clinton. In line with the Democratic agenda since Reagan’s 1981 tax-cutting initiative, some 80 per cent of the tax increases fell on wealthy families with annual incomes above $200,000. By 1996, millionaires contributed over twice as much to the US Treasury as in 1992. Meanwhile earned income credits reduced tax rates for lower-income families to their lowest level since the 1970s. On the spending side, net entitlement cutbacks of $77 billion still allowed for 25 per cent growth in programme outlays over five years, whilst annual defence spending experienced a real decline of 17 per cent.16 OBRA was also an economic success in terms of reassuring the bond market that the deficit would not rise inexorably. On its enactment, Clinton reportedly told Rubin, ‘I have a jobs program and my

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jobs program is deficit reduction.’ His hopes for economic growth were now pinned on a different supply-side concept from public investment. Instead of seeking to make labour more productive, the aim was to make capital cheaper and more productive by shifting it from government to private hands through reduced public borrowing. The strong rally of more than 150 basis points in the bond market in the first ten months of 1993 and the significant decline of long-term interest rates following OBRA’s passage suggested that the Clinton strategy was working.17 Convinced that he had achieved his primary economic policy objective, Clinton moved on to his next great cause of enacting the universal health care insurance programme promised in the 1992 campaign. This resulted in the greatest defeat he suffered as president. A huge advertising campaign by health insurance companies and other hostile interests portrayed the measure as a big-government monstrosity that would be funded by tax increases on middle-income families. Reinforcing such concerns, a CBO assessment of the complex administration plan, with its proposal for five new entitlements, found that it would add $70 billion to the deficit over five years rather than save $60 billion as claimed. As popular support for the measure melted away, Democratic congressional leaders decided not to bring the bill to a vote. More than just a failed proposal, the fiasco was a political disaster for Clinton. It obliterated his ‘New Democrat’ image that had helped to elect him in 1992 and made him look like just another biggovernment liberal.18 The health care imbroglio added grist to the mill for Republicans who had charged during the OBRA debate that Clinton was at heart a tax-and-spend Democrat. According to opinion polls, the GOP’s misleading message that the 1993 tax hikes imposed a heavy burden on all families had hit home. As well as making patently ridiculous claims that these constituted the largest tax increase not just ‘in American history . . . . [but] in world history’ – the words of Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) – Republicans warned that their impact would retard economic recovery. The performance of the economy in the eighteen months following OBRA’s enactment did not help the Clinton administration refute this attack. Despite the

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decline in long-term interest rates, only in the final quarter of 1993 and the second quarter of 1994 was economic growth higher than in the final quarter of 1992. Unemployment remained stubbornly high, only declining from a peak of 7.6 per cent in mid-1992 to 6 per cent in the third quarter of 1994.19 This slow recovery kept Clinton’s average Gallup approval rating for his job performance on the economy at a lowly 43 per cent throughout 1993–94. Running in the 1994 midterms on the ‘Contract with America’ manifesto that featured a promise to cut taxes, GOP House candidates blamed OBRA for the economy’s sluggishness. The same message was the centrepiece of the Statement of Republican Economic Principles that Bob Dole issued on behalf of GOP Senate candidates. While a combination of factors helped the GOP gain control of Congress for the first time in forty years, economic issues were critical to its success. Exit polls indicated that 57 per cent of voters thought the economy was in bad shape and 62 per cent of these voted Republican in the House elections. Even the decline of the deficit to $203 billion (2.9 per cent GDP) in FY1994 did not come to the Democrats’ rescue. In fact, polls indicated that some 75 per cent of respondents thought it had stayed the same or was getting bigger.20 The Federal Reserve was largely responsible for the slow pace of economic recovery. Determined to ensure that it would not lead to renewed inflation, the Greenspan-led Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) approved over the course of 1994 and early 1995 a series of hikes that doubled the Federal Funds rate, the determinant of shortterm interest rates within the entire banking system, from 3 per cent to 6 per cent.21 Nevertheless, Greenspan would help Clinton’s political cause in the remaining six years of his presidency to bring about the greatest boom in the US economy since the 1960s.

The Monetary Turn-Around Conventionally Greenspan rather than Clinton is credited for the boom in the second half of the 1990s because this largely derived from cheap credit. Such a judgement underestimates the Fed chair’s conviction that budgetary restraint was a prerequisite for monetary

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relaxation. In essence, Clinton and Greenspan were equal partners in facilitating economic expansion. As the latter acknowledged when the president appointed him to a fourth term in office in 2000, ‘If you had not turned the fiscal situation around, we couldn’t have had the kind of monetary policy we’ve had.’22 Relations between Clinton’s predecessors and Fed chairs had been less than harmonious because presidential preference for pro-growth economic policy that boosted jobs had often been in conflict with the central bank’s desire for low inflation. In 1981–82 the Reagan White House had been dismayed by the monetary targetting strategy of Greenspan’s predecessor, Paul Volcker, to throttle runaway inflation at the cost of the worst recession since the 1930s. Although relations improved with the Fed’s shift towards monetary relaxation in 1983, they turned sour when Volcker trod on the breaks in response to a rise in inflation in 1987. This was instrumental in the administration’s decision to appoint Greenspan, a partisan Republican and former Reagan campaign adviser, in his place in 1987. To George H. W. Bush’s dismay, however, the new chair was as dedicated an antiinflation fighter as Volcker. His reluctance to institute robust interest rate cuts to accelerate economic recovery from the recession of 1990–91 was a factor in the forty-first president’s failure to win re-election. As Bush later remarked, ‘I reappointed him and he disappointed me.’23 Greenspan hoped for a better relationship with Clinton, whom he considered economically knowledgeable and engaged with the economic policy process (not a view he held of Bush 41 or George W. Bush).24 Impressed with the new administration’s determination to tackle the deficit, he pronounced its plan for doing so to be ‘serious’ and ‘credible’, remarks that helped to legitimize it in the eyes of the media. Less to White House liking, however, were the Fed interest rate hikes of 1994 to safeguard against recovery bringing renewed inflation. Owing to Greenspan’s huge credibility with the financial community, Clinton wanted to avoid open confrontation with him over the issue. As National Economic Council Chair Laura Tyson later commented, ‘We decided early on that the financial markets could misinterpret criticism of the Fed. And the Fed itself might react in unpredictable ways.’25

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Instead of risking a public squabble, the White House sought to outmanoeuvre Greenspan through appointment of liberal economists Alan Blinder and Janet Yellen to serve on the Fed’s Board of Governors, the former as vice-chair. Advised by an aide that Blinder, an eminent Princeton professor, was not a communist but was soft on inflation by Fed standards (he had once compared price instability as an economic ailment to a head cold rather than a serious disease), Greenspan reportedly quipped, ‘I would have preferred he were a communist.’26 However their incipient power struggle over monetary policy was quickly settled by the hostile reaction to Blinder’s address at the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s Jackson Hole conference in August 1994. He contended that monetary policy should have a short-term employment objective, namely that it should boost job growth up to the point at which inflation accelerated. The responding firestorm of criticism from both American and foreign central bankers and the financial media left Blinder isolated. While he did not join the attack on Clinton’s appointee, Greenspan could reassert his guiding principle from a position of strengthened authority. ‘Monetary policy which fails to focus on the long-term requirement of achieving price stability,’ he warned, ‘is inevitably going to find itself in a position where inflation emerges.’27 By 1996, however, White House-Federal Reserve relations were harmonious once more. Clinton happily re-appointed Greenspan to a third term in recognition, in Tyson’s words, that ‘he wasn’t running the Fed as a Republican’. Instead of being forced into cooperation, the central bank chair had moved voluntarily to promote economic growth. According to one analyst, Greenspan had ‘never been rule driven or theory driven’ and responded above all to the economic data. To some critics, this judgement glossed over his small-government bias, evidenced by his insistence on deficit reduction in 1993 and his support of Bush 43’s 2001 tax cut lest the projected budget surplus encourage a new round of federal spending.28 Nevertheless, Greenspan’s empiricism was more evident in the second half of the 1990s. Persuaded by his data that economic recovery had slowed down in the first half of 1995, Greenspan led the FOMC into agreeing a series of incremental rate reductions in the second half of the year

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and kept the Federal Funds rate steady at 5.25 per cent throughout 1996. Aided by a benign monetary regime, the United States entered into one of the most remarkable expansion cycles in its history from 1996 to 2000. The jobless level fell from 5.6 per cent to 4 per cent, effectively a 1960s style full-employment level, while inflation kept on its lowest track since the 1950s. Most encouragingly, following a twenty-two year period of sluggish growth when it averaged only 1.4 per cent, labour productivity increased at an annual rate of 2.7 per cent. While the causes of this remain a matter of dispute among economists, Greenspan was among those who placed great store on the influence of new technology. Though too cautious to join the throng of corporate executives and media commentators hailing the existence of a ‘new economy’ driven by computers, the internet, well-functioning capital markets, and globalization, he was seemingly willing to accept the paradigm that employment could grow without fuelling inflation in an environment of rising labour productivity.29 The spurt of economic growth also had beneficial effects for Clinton in his political struggles with the GOP-controlled Congress over the budget. The president’s refusal to sign a Republican fiscal plan that projected a balanced budget within seven years and huge domestic programme reductions to finance tax cuts, mainly for the well off, produced two government shutdowns in late 1995 and early 1996. This was a fiscal fight that was all about politics rather than economics – namely whether the budget should be balanced at a high level of revenue, which preserved spending programmes, or at a low level of revenue, which allowed tax reduction. There was no spin-off for either long or short-term interest rates, both of which were already coming down in response to declining inflation. Showing great political nerve and skill, the president won the public relations battle to depict his opponents as ideological hard-liners whose plans would hurt the middle class as well as low-income Americans. In the spring of 1996 the GOP leadership eventually beat a retreat to settle for a budget that conformed to the president’s preferences.30 Despite this victory, Clinton took up the balanced-budget issue as the dominant theme of his second term. Having declared that the era of big government was over in the 1996 State of the Union address, he

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hoped to establish a smaller but more effective state operating within the framework of fiscal responsibility as his legacy to twenty-first century America. As he put it to his aides, ‘FDR saved capitalism from itself. Our mission has been to save government from its own excesses. So it can be a progressive force.’31 In cooperation with the chastened Republicans, who had retained control of Congress, Clinton succeeded in enacting the Balanced Budget Act and the Tax Relief Act in 1997. These measures protected his favoured domestic programmes and instituted progressive tax cuts that advantaged middle and lower income families, while eliminating the deficit (standing at $107 billion, 1.4 per cent GDP in FY1996) over five years.32 Instead, the budget was balanced within a year thanks to the harvest of $400 billion (on annual average) added revenues generated by economic growth from 1996 through 2000. As the budget moved into the black, the fiscal indicators repeatedly set new standards of historic significance. In FY2000, outlays constituted 18.4 per cent GDP (the lowest since FY1966), revenues were 20.9 per cent GDP (matching the record of FY1944), and individual income taxes accounted for 10.3 per cent GDP (setting a new record for this index of progressivity). In the same year, the US recorded a massive surplus of $236 billion (2.4 per cent GDP, but below the record 4.6 per cent GDP in FY1948) on the way to achieving a sequence of four annual balanced budgets (FY1998–FY2001) for the first time since the 1920s.33 The combination of relaxed monetary policy and budgetary restraint delivered far greater economic success than the reverse combination had done in the 1980s and the juxtaposition of cheap credit and big deficits would do in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Greenspan never formally endorsed the concept of a non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment but, in the words of one analyst, his management of monetary policy effectively engaged in ‘covert inflation targeting’ of about 3 per cent as an acceptable maximum. As Clinton’s 1995 Fed appointees later remarked, the economic experience of the 1990s suggested that ‘[economic] fine tuning is at least possible’ through a monetary version of the fiscal Philips curve practiced by 1960s adherents of the ‘new economics.’ Such manipulation of the economy to achieve a trade-off of high employment for acceptably low

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inflation had fallen into disrepute because of the onset of severe inflation in the 1970s. As the twentieth century drew to a close, however, there was renewed confidence that ‘tight government budgets and (relatively) easy monetary policy can create a pro-investment macroeconomic climate by holding down real interest rates’.34 Nevertheless, there were worrying signs that the late 1990s boom was turning into a bubble. The reduction in long-term interest rates made the stock market more attractive than the bond market to investors. The Dow Jones industrial index rose from 5,000 to over 6,500 points over the course of 1996. Over the next three years, it surged beyond 10,000 points. Greenspan could have pricked the bubble early on but confined himself to rhetorical warnings, notably his famous comment in 1996 about the dangers of ‘irrational exuberance’ unduly inflating asset values, all of which proved ineffective. Probably the strongest instrument of restraint at the Fed’s disposal was its power to raise margin requirements that governed how much stock could be bought with borrowed money. Greenspan told the FOMC on 24 September 1996 that such action would certainly douse stock market inflation, but he worried that the entire economy would be dragged down in consequence. ‘My concern,’ he admitted, ‘is that I am not sure what else it will do.’35 In reality, US economic growth was becoming dangerously reliant on the performance of the stock market. The shift from the once ascendant manufacturing sector to financial-sector dominance, which had been going on since World War II, was effectively completed in the final decade of the twentieth century. Complementing the role of fiscal and monetary policy in this development was the foreign economic policy of the Clinton administration during the decade after the Cold War’s end.

Managing Globalization in Foreign Economic Policy Bill Clinton has often been dubbed ‘the globalization president.’ According to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, he was ‘the first American President with a deep understanding of how these issues [of global integration] were reshaping our economy, our country, and

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the world’. As another (unnamed) official observed, Clinton ‘doesn’t see the distinction between economics and politics or between the domestic economy and the international economy’.36 The link between free markets and democratization was at the core of what some scholars have dubbed the Clinton doctrine. In the forty-second president’s assessment, American leadership of the post-Cold War process of global economic integration would ensure that it promoted the spread of democracy. However, the domestic consequences of doing so did not benefit all Americans. As had been the case in the battle between public investors and deficit hawks to shape domestic economic policy, there was a struggle for Clinton’s ear between ‘America first’ economic nationalists and free traders in his advisory circle. As a result some of the administration’s early initiatives had a mercantilist tinge, notably its institution of retaliatory measures against competitors engaging in what were deemed unfair trade practices, its use of US ambassadors as ‘salesmen’ for American products, and its desire to establish America’s presence in ten so-called ‘big emerging markets’ (Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Turkey, South Africa, and South Korea).37 However, the administration’s commitment to cooperative free trade quickly became the primary strand of foreign economic policy, resulting in its eventual negotiation of some 500 bilateral and regional pacts. Apart from the president himself, the key actor in engineering the ascendancy of this approach, as he was in the triumph of the ‘deficit firsters,’ was former Goldman Sachs chair Robert Rubin, who became – in John Dumbrell’s words – ‘Clinton’s first minister for globalized markets’ in his role as chair of the National Economic Council (1993–94) and then Treasury Secretary (1995–98).38 The initial test of the Clinton administration’s free-trade commitment was the battle to ratify the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that the Bush administration had negotiated with Canada and Mexico to phase out tariffs and remove obstacles to inward foreign direct investment over fifteen years. In addition to the likes of Ross Perot and populist Republican Pat Buchanan, labour unions, civil rights leaders like Jesse Jackson, and left-leaning Democrats aligned against the measure out of concern that US manufacturing enterprises

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would outsource their production to low-wage Mexico to the detriment of American jobs. To counter this, the White House created its own polyglot coalition of conservative Republicans and free-trade Democrats in support of NAFTA. Aside from cutting side deals to win over individual legislators, its strategy promoted the congressional vote as the first step to a new world order based on the growth-creating impetus of free trade. ‘It all begins with NAFTA,’ Clinton declared on 10 November 1993. A week later the House of Representatives approved the measure by 234–200 votes (with 132 Republicans providing the margin of victory) and the Senate followed suit on 20 November by 61–38 votes.39 Buoyed by this success, the White House moved ahead with ambitious plans for the regional and global expansion of free trade. At the Summit of the Americas meeting in Miami in December 1994, heads of state agreed to establish the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the hemispheric equivalent of NAFTA, by 2005. The United States also signalled its intention to be a Pacific economic power in hosting the first Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of twenty-one Pacific Rim nations at Blake Island, Washington, in 1993. The next annual meeting of this organization in Indonesia adopted the Bogor Declaration agreeing to the establishment of free trade and investment by 2010 for industrialized-economy members and 2020 for developing-economy ones. There were also tentative steps towards a transatlantic free trade area linking NAFTA and the European Union. Meanwhile, the US threw its influence behind the settlement of tariff disputes to conclude the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, which had been ongoing for ninety months – twice the projected duration, thereby paving the way for the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995.40 By the end of Clinton’s presidency, however, there was a clear gap between its rhetoric and record on free trade expansion. A series of financial crises in different parts of the world had undermined confidence in many countries that embrace of the free market was the way ahead. In 1995, as a direct consequence of the neoliberal policies of President Carlos Salinas, the Mexican peso collapsed, threatening an economic implosion that was only averted with the aid of a $20

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billion loan from the US. In 1997, a financial crisis in Thailand spread to other East Asian countries, causing them to require International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid that came on condition of unpopular public-sector retrenchment and further enforced liberalization. Malaysia, the only nation to hold firm against such terms, emerged quickest from the crisis. Regional resentment at US insistence on continued progress towards free markets effectively put paid to APEC support for their development in accordance with the Bogor Declaration schedule. Russia and Brazil also experienced financial crisis that was intimately associated with their exposure to free-market realities. Most serious, however, was the economic meltdown suffered in 2000–01 by Argentina, the Latin American nation that had most enthusiastically embraced the free-market doctrine of the IMF’s so-called ‘Washington Consensus’. US refusal to bail it out caused deep resentment throughout South America and generated a wave of anti-Americanism that undermined support for the FTAA project. 41 Meanwhile, globalization was in trouble at home. Though Clinton’s Mexico loan had saved the economy of a NAFTA partner and was repaid in full in 1997, the bailout was deeply unpopular with Congress and the American public. His decision to bypass the legislature in awarding it provoked a retaliatory congressional withdrawal in 1997 of presidential ‘fast track’ authority to negotiate trade agreements that could not be subject to amendment by the House or Senate. Although the administration engaged in unilateral interventions in the global currency markets during the Asian crisis, including a $2 billion purchase of the Japanese yen, it increasingly had to rely on multilateral intervention through the IMF. Payment of US dues to this organization then became embroiled in Clinton’s renewed budgetary conflict with the Republican Congress that was due largely to the Lewinskyaffair impeachment imbroglio.42 Nevertheless, the administration had one big play left in its freetrade game plan. In late 1999 it negotiated market-opening terms for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to gain WTO membership. This required prior congressional approval for permanent normal trading relations with the PRC, an issue enmeshed from the outset of his presidency with debate over China’s human rights violations and latterly

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over the massive bilateral surplus in its trade with the US. Repeating its NAFTA strategy of bi-partisan coalition-building and deal-making to win individual votes, the White House got the measure through the lower chamber by 237–197 votes in May 2000, a success followed by easier passage in the Senate. By now, however, its primary rhetorical focus was very much on the democratization benefits of free trade rather than the economic ones for America itself. According to National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, ‘Just as NAFTA helped erode the economic base of the one-party rule in Mexico, participation in WTO . . . can help promote change in China.’ 43 Such celebration of NAFTA concealed what one analyst dubbed its ‘dirty little secret,’ one that pertained to the entire globalization agenda. This regional free trade agreement certainly benefited the hundred million Americans in a household headed by a college graduate in the high-tech sector, financial services, or one of the professions. However it hurt the interests of the fifty million or so low-income Americans who had no access to jobs, other than low-paid ones, because of the loss of manufacturing employment to low-wage countries. Many of these were trapped in declining industrial cities like Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland and St Louis. NAFTA and globalization more generally also threatened the economic security of America’s one hundred million blue-collar and lower middle-class white-collar workers. One sign of grass-roots discontent was the ‘battle of Seattle’ street protests that greeted the WTO meeting held in the city in 1999.44 Perhaps nothing better highlighted the vagaries of globalization than the so-called ‘reverse Plaza accord’ of 1995. Ten years earlier the US had negotiated the original Plaza agreement with its G-5 trading partners (France, Japan, the United Kingdom and West Germany) that allowed the dollar to depreciate against their currencies as a means of closing its yawning trade gap. Now it came to the rescue of a Japanese economy in the doldrums of the ‘lost decade’ by allowing the dollar to rise against the yen. This did little to help Japan but it was a major factor in provoking the financial crisis in East Asia, where countries that had tied their currencies to the dollar found themselves priced out of export markets. In the case of America itself, the rising dollar advantaged foreign investment in the United States, but

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much of this went into the stock market, thereby doing a good deal to turn its boom into a bubble. For the American consumer, it also made imports cheaper but this further disadvantaged traditional domestic manufacturing that had underpinned blue-collar economic security in the now distant days of the 1945–73 ‘long boom.’ Overall, America’s non-agricultural exports increased in dollar-value by more than 80 per cent between 1992 and 2000, but the largest gains were in hightech products, pharmaceuticals, capital goods, and cultural products. In the meantime, however, the aggregate trade gap between imports and exports more than doubled.45

The Clinton Record The American economy is too large, complex, and globally interdependent to be subject to presidential control. Its fundamental strengths and weaknesses tend to be structural, deep rooted, and shaped more by the decisions of banks, business, consumers, and foreigners than those of the White House. Nevertheless, presidents can make significant contributions, both good and bad, to macroeconomic performance. While taking account of the limitations of presidential impact, Clinton deserves considerable credit for the strong growth, high employment, low inflation, and rising productivity (real output per hour per employee) of the economy on his watch. Indeed, he can claim to have been the most successful ‘economic president’ of all time in terms of ‘scorecard’ performance on these issues. Overall, Clinton’s record was marginally superior to those of fellow Democrats Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, who were also in the running for the title of ‘economic champ’. Truman’s record was somewhat blighted by the brief recession of 1948–49 and, more significantly, by the inflation of the 1945–46 reconversion period and the Korean War. The Kennedy–Johnson record, taken as a whole, was initially strong, other than for unemployment, but was marked by rising inflation and declining productivity later on. Though broadly successful, Republicans Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan had a less impressive economic record than these Democrats. In Ike’s case, an obsession with inflation deterred him from giving the economy a much

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needed dose of fiscal adrenaline to overcome its second-term slack. Reagan presided over the conquest of high inflation (largely the work of the Federal Reserve) but unemployment remained unusually high and productivity rates were disappointingly low throughout his tenure of office. Bringing up the rear on economic management, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter presided over the stagflationhit economy of the 1970s, and Bush 41’s tenure was marked by the lowest overall rate of economic growth. Owing to his record on deficits, debt and depression, however, George W. Bush is widely regarded as the worst economic president of modern times.46 Of course scorecard assessments say more about the state of the economy under a particular president than about the actual role of that president in bringing it about. Clinton was fortunate to occupy the White House at a time when energy prices were relatively low, the end of the Cold War allowed deficit-reducing savings on military outlays, US firms were more efficient because of restructuring and other changes in the 1980s, and – most significantly – high tech innovations drove the economy to new heights. These developments reflected the contingency of history rather than presidential policy. Nevertheless a persuasive case can be made that Clinton was a particularly effective economic president. Firstly, he developed a coherent agenda for promoting economic growth and followed this plan throughout his presidency. Secondly, he took political risks – such as the 1993 deficit reduction plan, the drive for NAFTA ratification, the 1995 bailout of Mexico, and denying the steel industry the tariffs it wanted – in the long-term interests of the economy.47 Thirdly, he introduced a significant institutional reform to improve the coordination of economic policy by creating the National Economic Council. Its brief was to ensure that economic considerations were factored into presidential decisions on a wide range of issues and to counter the centrifugal influences of bureaucratic politics in the manner of the National Security Council in the foreign policy domain. Though Clinton lauded this ‘as the most important innovation in White House decision making in decades,’ its effectiveness owed much to Robert Rubin, its first chair, and the president’s clarity of vision about economic priorities.48 Fourthly, in contrast to most presidents, Clinton

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had a good understanding of economics and was an active participant in his administration’s policy debates on the basis of knowledge rather than ideology. Finally, Clinton was a first-class salesman for his economic policies. He spoke more in public about the economy than any of his post-1945 predecessors – more than twice as much as Reagan, for example – and was by far the most optimistic in the tone of his rhetoric.49 In spite of the impressive macroeconomic indicators and Clinton’s effective leadership on economic issues, some of the structural weaknesses of the US economy that would cause such problems in the following decade were already apparent by the time he left office. In some respects, the Clinton administration’s market-oriented economics had aggravated rather than alleviated these. Firstly, the fruits of the Clinton boom did little to reverse the serious inequality of income within US society. Acknowledging this in a Harvard commencement address, Greenspan commented, ‘Expansion of income and wealth has been truly impressive, though regrettably the gains have not been as widely across households as I would have liked.’ Real median family income, which did not reach its 1989 level until 1998, stagnated for most of Clinton’s time in office. Workers with only a high school education or less benefited least from the boom. Women experienced a decline in the rate of improvement in their earnings ratio to men – the annual income of full-time female workers was 73 per cent that of men in 1998 compared with 71 per cent in 1992. While the African-American male to white male ratio went up from 61 per cent in 1992 to 70 per cent in 1998, most of the gain occurred in the pre-boom years of 1992–93. Moreover, the unemployment rate of 8.2 per cent among black men was more than double that of 3.6 per cent among white males in 1999. Overall the poverty rate declined significantly from 15.1 per cent of the population in 1993 to 11.8 per cent in 1999, but this was not much lower than the 12.9 per cent rate in 1989.50 Without doubt Clinton was not blind to the shortcomings of the 1990s economic ‘miracle’. Despite OBRA’s non-inclusion of his public investment plan and the failure to enact health care reform in 1994, he channelled substantial funds from the surplus budgets of

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FY1998–2001 into education, training, earned income tax credits, and a new State Child Health Insurance Program to assist hard-pressed families and improve their economic opportunities. All this was laudable but inadequate to correct long-term structural economic imbalances in society. As such, the Clinton era witnessed the continuation of the trend whereby the lowest income quintile’s share of aggregate household income dropped 12 per cent and the highest income quintile increased its share by 38 per cent between 1977 and 1999.51 While the reduction of the budget deficit partially alleviated the problem of low national saving that was a consequence of Reagan-era policies, Clinton’s economic approach did not resolve it. The decline of federal borrowing contributed to a remarkable 10 per cent increase in private investment from 1990 through 2000, but this masked the decline in personal saving from 7.7 per cent to 2.3 per cent of disposable personal income from 1992 to 2000. The surge in domestic investment consequently overwhelmed the modest net increase in domestic saving (including public saving) to require an increase in the supply of funds from abroad. The reverse Plaza accord of 1995 enhanced the international appeal of investment in the US because of the exchangevalue return on the strong dollar. One effect of this was to perpetuate large trade deficits through which other countries directed their savings to America. The stock market became the magnet that attracted much of this new money. It also attracted greatly increased investment from Americans in the upper half of the income distribution looking to cash in on Wall Street’s boom. This was a significant factor in the expansion of household debt from 3.6 per cent GDP in 1990 to 7 per cent GDP in 2000. The attainment of balanced federal budgets coincided with the period of sharpest decline in private saving, which most economists attributed ‘primarily to the dramatic runup in stock prices’.52 In the late 1990s, investment in the ‘new economy’ dot.com companies was seen as the surest way to make a killing, with the result that their share prices rocketed upwards. As Clinton’s presidency drew to a close, however, the stock market was showing dangerous signs of volatility because of concerns that these enterprises had become overvalued. Adding to the uncertainty, Greenspan began to tread on the

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monetary brakes out of concern that the financial boom was fuelling inflation throughout the economy. Hence the Federal Funds rate rose from 5 per cent in early 1999 to 6.5 per cent by the end of 2000. The resultant shakeout from these developments precipitated a stock market crash followed by recession in early 2001. If Clinton cannot be held directly responsible for this, the experience of the late 1990s showed that the psychological benefits of balanced budgets for investor confidence were not always predictable. As one critic observed, ‘We had put ourselves at the mercy of the mercurial . . . markets, those same people who at times exhibited irrational exuberance, and at others irrational pessimism.’53 Another damaging consequence of the Clinton administration’s reliance on financial sector growth was its predilection for financial market liberalization as an instrument of economic expansion. Greenspan’s enthusiasm for derivatives as a means to spread debt risk made him resistant to calls for their stronger regulation in the 1990s, a stand supported by the White House. In time these would become, in the words of Warren Buffet, America’s most successful money manager, ‘the financial weapons of mass destruction’ that laid the economy low in 2007–08. The Clinton administration, with new Treasury Secretary Larry Summers to the fore, joined with Greenspan to promote enactment of the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999. This repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 that limited the ability of banks, investment firms, and insurance companies to enter each other’s markets. Supporters of this reform claimed that it would provide necessary flexibility for US financial services to compete in a globalized market. In Greenspan’s opinion Glass-Steagall was based on ‘faulty history’ that banks had made inappropriate use of their security affiliates in advance of the 1929 crash, but the sub-prime crisis would soon prove the historical wisdom of Depression-era policymakers.54 The fairest assessment of Clinton’s economic record is that he helped create the conditions for an impressive boom but failed in his ambition to enhance the long-term strength of the American economy. The ultimate effect of the short-term boom of the 1990s was the burst bubble of 2000–01. Clinton cannot be blamed for Greenspan’s later decision to mitigate the effects of the stock-market collapse by encouraging

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the expansion of the housing market, thereby creating another boombubble cycle that ended in the greatest financial crisis in eighty years in 2007–08. Nevertheless, there are clear patterns of shared weakness between the Clinton-era economy of 1997–2000 and the Bush-era economy of 2001–09. It is unlikely, therefore, that Clintonomics in its ultimate form offers an economic growth formula to guide future policymakers. On the other hand, Clinton’s success in deficit reduction in his first term does offer a beacon of hope that this politically difficult feat can be repeated in the face of the yawning fiscal gap confronting the United States in the second decade of the twenty-first century and beyond. Of course, Clinton’s greatest fiscal success – the balanced budgets of FY1998–2001 – owed much to the capital gains, dividend and related tax revenues generated by a booming stock market. Nevertheless, he had shown great political determination and had run considerable risk to enact the deficit control plan of 1993. This success endowed him with the political legitimacy to resist the tax-cutting Republican budget plan of 1995 and laid the foundations for his promotion of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. His White House successors will have to show similar commitment to fiscal restraint if America is to avoid a future of unsustainable public debt that will erode the foundations of its economic wellbeing.

Notes 1.

2.

3.

Mankiw, Gregory, ‘Monetary Policy’, in Jeffrey Frankel and Peter Orszag, eds., American Economic Policy in the 1990s (Cambridge MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2002), p. 42; Blinder, Alan, and Yellen, Janet, The Fabulous Decade: Macroeconomic Lessons from the 1990s (New York: Century Foundation Press, 2001). Morris, Dick, Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds (Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 1999), pp. 88–89; Busby, Robert, Defending the American Presidency: Clinton and the Lewinsky Scandal (New York: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 202–203, 223. See, for example: Barro, Robert, ‘Reagan vs. Clinton: Who’s the Economic Champ?’ Business Week, 22 February 1999, p. 22; Thompson, Nicholas, ‘Greenspan? Gipper? Gates? Republicans can’t bear to give Clinton credit

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4. 5.

6. 7.

8.

9.

10. 11.

12. 13. 14.

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for the boom. But they should’, Washington Monthly, June 2000, http://www. washingtonmonthly.com/features/2000/0006.thompson.html. Clinton, Bill and Gore, Al, Putting People First: How We Can All Change America (New York: Times Books, 1992). Thurow, Lester, Head to Head: The Coming Economic Battle among Japan, Europe and America (New York: Morrow, 1992); Reich, Robert, The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21-st Century Capitalism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991); Magaziner, Ira, and Patinkin, Mark, The Silent Wars: Inside the Great Business Battles Shaping America’s Future (New York: Random House, 1989). Krugman, Paul, Peddling Prosperity: Economic Sense and Nonsense in the Age of Diminished Expectations (New York: Norton, 1994), pp. 254–80. See, for example, ‘The New Orleans Declaration: A Democratic Agenda for the 1990s,’ (Washington DC: Democratic Leadership Council, March 1990). Moving Arkansas Forward into the 21st Century: Legislative Program for the 77th General Assembly (Little Rock: Arkansas State Office of the Governor, 1988); ‘Keynote Address of Gov. Bill Clinton to the DLC’s Cleveland Convention’, 6 May 1991, and ‘A New Covenant for Economic Change: Remarks to Students at Georgetown University by Governor Bill Clinton’, 20 November 1991 (both available at www.dlc.org.ndol). Interview with Laura Tyson, 10 August, 2005. For Perot’s fiscal critique, see his United We Stand: How We Can Take Back Our Country (New York: Hyperion Books, 1992). Congressional Budget Office, Economic and Budget Outlook: Fiscal Years 1994 to 1998 (Washington DC: CBO, 1993), pp. 27–39. Clinton, Bill, My Life (New York: Knopf, 2004), pp. 458–60; Rubin, Robert E. and Weisberg, Jacob, In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington (New York: Random House, 2003), pp. 118–23; Greenspan, Alan, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (New York: Penguin, 2007), pp. 143–44. For the bond market, see Egan, Jack, ‘Clinton’s New Market’, US News and World Report, 1 March 1993, pp. 64–66. Clinton, My Life, p. 463; Woodward, Bob, The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), pp. 108–116. Walker, Martin, Clinton: The President They Deserve, rev. ed. (New York: Vintage, 1997), p. 173; Greenspan, Age of Turbulence, pp. 146–47. ‘Address to the Joint Session of Congress’, 18 February 1993, in John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, American Presidency Project (APP) (Santa Barbara: University of California), available on-line at www.americanpresidency,ucsb; CBO, An Analysis of the President’s February Budget Proposals (Washington

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15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

21. 22.

23.

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DC: CBO, 1993); Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 1994 (Washington DC: Government Printing Office) [quotation p. 10]. For full discussion of the administration’s development of the plan and congressional response, see Morgan, Iwan, The Age of Deficits: Presidents and Unbalanced Budgets from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009), pp. 165–78. CBO, The Economic and Budget Outlook: An Update (Washington DC: CBO, September 1993), pp. 28–29, 31, 38; Schick, Allen, ‘A Surplus, If We Can Keep It’, Brookings Review, 18 (2000), pp. 36–39. Stevenson, Richard, ‘The Wisdom to Let the Good Times Roll’, New York Times, 25 December 2000, p. A1 [quotation]; Blinder and Yellen, The Fabulous Decade, pp. 15–24. Clinton, My Life, pp. 547–49; CBO, The Administration’s Health Plan (Washington DC: CBO, 1994); Skocpol, Theda, Boomerang: Health Care Reform and the Turn against Government (New York: Norton, 1997), pp. 133–88. Rosenbaum, David, ‘Beyond the Superlatives: Clinton-Dole Jousting Over Budget Bills Shows How Assertions Can Mask the Truth’, New York Times, 6 August 1993, p. A1; Rubin, In An Uncertain World, p. 125; Passell, Peter, ‘Economic Scene: Why Isn’t a Better Economy Helping Clinton?’ New York Times, 3 November 1994, p. D2. Morgan, Age of Deficits, pp. 176–78; Stanley, Harold W., ‘The Parties, the President and the 1994 Midterm Elections’, in Colin Campbell and Bert Rockman, eds., The Clinton Presidency: First Appraisals (Chatham NJ: Chatham House, 1996), pp. 193–98; Gary Jacobson, ‘The 1994 House Elections in Perspective’, in Philip Klinkner, ed., Midterm: Elections of 1994 in Context (Boulder CO: Westview, 1996), pp. 1–9. Woodward, Bob, Maestro: Greenspan’s Fed and the American Boom (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000), pp. 114–24. Editorial, ‘Who Needs Gold When We Have Greenspan?’ New York Times, 4 March 1999, p. A30; James Galbraith, ‘The Economy Doesn’t Need the Third Way’, New York Times, 23 November 1999, p. A25; Woodward, Maestro [quotation p. 221]. For a review of Clinton-Greenspan policies, see Morgan, Iwan, ‘Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and the New Democratic Economics’, Historical Journal, 47 (2004), esp. pp. 1032–36. Volcker, Paul, and Gyohten, Toyoo, Changing Fortunes: The World’s Money and the Threat to American Leadership (Times Books: New York, 1992), pp. 163–87; Morgan, Iwan, ‘The Volcker Regime at the Fed: The Implications for the Liberal Political Economy’, unpublished paper, Policy History Conference, 6 June 2010; Woodward, Maestro, pp. 15–97. For the Bush remark, see ‘Bush

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26.

27.

28. 29.

30.

31.

32. 33.

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Pins the Blame for ‘92 Election Loss on Alan Greenspan’, Wall Street Journal, 29 August 1998, p. A16. Greenspan, Age of Turbulence, pp. 144, 170–71 (on the Bushes, see pp. 113, 118–20, 233–40). Greenspan, Age of Turbulence, pp. 142–63; Greenhouse, Stephen, ‘Clinton’s Program gets Endorsement of Fed Chair’, New York Times, 20 February 1993, p. A1; Pianin, Eric, ‘Clinton Plan Gains Greenspan’s Praise’, Washington Post, 20 February 1993, p. A1; Rosenbaum, David, and Lohr, Steve, ‘With a Stable Economy, Clinton Hopes for Credit’, New York Times, 3 August 1996, p. A8. Blinder, Alan, Hard Heads, Soft Hearts: Tough-Minded Economics for a Just Society (Reading MA: Addison-Wesley, 1987), esp. chapter 2; Woodward, Maestro, 127. Wessel, David, ‘Central Bankers Say, Look Elsewhere on Jobs’, 29 August 1994, p. A1; Samuelson, Robert, ‘Economic Amnesia: Alan Blinder Forgets the Dangers of Inflation’, Newsweek, 13 September 1994, p. 52; Wessel, David, ‘Blinder Denies there’s a Rift with Fed Chair’, Wall Street Journal, 9 September 1994, p. A2. Greenspan, Maestro, pp. 159, 227; Joseph Stiglitz, The Roaring Nineties: Seeds of Destruction (Penguin: London, 2003), pp. 79–80. Greenspan, Age of Turbulence, pp. 164–74. For ‘new economy’ advocacy, see Michael Mandel and others, ‘How long can this last?’ Business Week, 19 May 1997, pp. 29–34. For differing academic perspectives on the issue, see: Oliner, Stephen D., and Schiel, Daniel, ‘The Resurgence of Growth in the Late 1990s: Is Information Technology the Story?’ and Gordon, Robert, ‘Does the New Economy Measure Up to the Great Inventions of the Past?’ Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14 (2000), pp. 3–22, 49–74. Clinton, My Life, pp. 680–84, 689–96; Gingrich, Newt, Lessons Learned the Hard Way: A Personal Report (New York: HarperCollins, 1998), pp. 47–63; Gillon, Steven M., The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich and the Rivalry that Defined a Generation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 147–72. See too, Morgan, Age of Deficits, pp. 178–192. ‘Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union’, 23 January 1996, APP; Waldman, Michael, ed., POTUS Speaks: Finding the Words that Defined the Clinton Presidency (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000), p. 196. Palazollo, Daniel J., Done Deal? The Politics of the 1997 Budget Agreement (Chappaqua NY: Seven Bridges Press, 1998); Gillon, The Pact, pp. 187–203. For data, see Budget of the United States Government Fiscal Year 2011: Historical Tables (Washington DC: Office of Management and Budget, 2010), Tables 1.2, 2.3.

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34. Mankiw, ‘Monetary Policy’, p. 43; Blinder and Yellen, The Fabulous Decade, pp. 85, 83. 35. Minutes of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting, 24 September 1996, p. 31, www.federalreserve.gov/transcripts/1996/199609 24meeting.pdf. For the stock market boom, see: Shiller, Robert, Irrational Exuberance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000); and Brenner, Robert, The Boom and the Bubble: The US in the World Economy (New York: Verso, 2002). 36. Dumbrell, John, Clinton’s Foreign Policy: Between the Bushes 1992–2000 (London: Routledge, 2009), pp. 45–50; Rubin, In an Uncertain World, p. 121; Bruce Stokes, ‘Elevating Economics’, National Journal, 13 March 1993, p. 35. 37. Oppenheimer, Michael, ‘The New Mercantilism’ in Robert Hutchings, ed., At the End of the American Century: America’s Role in the Post-Cold War World (Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson Center, 1998), pp. 153–55; Garten, Jeffrey, ‘Clinton’s Emerging Trade Policy’, Foreign Affairs, 72 (1993), pp. 181–89; Kaplan, Lawrence J., ‘Dollar Diplomacy Returns’, Commentary, 105 (1998), pp. 52–54. 38. Dumbrell, Clinton’s Foreign Policy, pp. 50–61 [quotation p. 54]; Walker, Clinton, pp. 285–306; Rubin, In An Uncertain World, pp. 386–402. 39. Cloud, David, ‘Sound and Fury over NAFTA Overshadows the Debate’, and ‘Clinton Forms New Coalition to Win NAFTA’s Approval’, Congressional Quarterly, 51 (1993), pp. 2791–96, 3181–83; ‘Border Crossings’, Business Week, 22 November 1993, pp. 40–42; ‘The President’s News Conference’, 10 November 1993, APP. 40. Fred Bergsten, ‘Globalizing Free Trade’, Foreign Affairs, 75 (1996), pp. 105–20; Cohen, Stephen, Paul, Joel, and Blecker, Robert, Fundamentals of US Foreign Trade Policy (Boulder CO: Westview, 1996). For a critical perspective by a former administration member, see Stiglitz, Joseph, The Roaring Nineties: Seeds of Destruction (New York: Norton, 2003), pp. 202–40. 41. Rubin, In an Uncertain World, pp. 3–38, 169–71; Johnson, Chalmers, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (New York: Henry Holt, 2000), pp. 216–30; Morgan, Iwan, ‘The Washington Consensus and Anti-Americanism’, in Brendon O’Connor, ed., Anti-Americanism: History, Causes and Themes, I (Westport CT: Greenwood, 2007), pp. 217–38. 42. Dumbrell, Clinton’s Foreign Policy, pp. 57–58. 43. Albright, Madeleine, Madam Secretary: A Memoir (London: Macmillan, 2003), pp. 432–34; Smith, Matt, ‘Clinton Signs China Trade Bill’, 10 October 2000, www.cnn.com/2000/allpolitics; Berger, Sandy, ‘A Foreign Policy for a Global Age’, Foreign Affairs, 79 (2000), p. 29.

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44. Walker, Clinton, p. 294; Teather, David, ‘Buffalo Moves Closer to Extinction’, The Guardian, 20 November 2003 (available at www.guardian.co.uk); Wilkinson, Rorden, The WTO: Crisis and the Governance of Global Trade (London: Routledge, 2006), pp. 5–14, 112–18. 45. Brenner, The Boom and the Bubble, pp. 59–61, 128–42. 46. These judgements are by no means absolute. Based on a complex misery index, economist Robert Barro (‘Reagan vs. Clinton’) put the fortieth president on a par with Clinton. For good discussion of relative presidential performance, see: Frendreis, John P., and Tatalovich, Raymond, The Modern Presidency and Economic Policy (Itasca IL: F.E. Peacock, 1994), pp. 307–16. Joseph Stiglitz, ‘The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush’, Vanity Fair (December 2007), pp. 227–28, offers a damning verdict on the forty-third president. 47. On this, see Krugman, Paul, The Great Unraveling: From Boom to Bust in Three Scandalous Years (New York: Norton, 2003), p. 252. 48. Clinton, My Life, p. 636. 49. Wood, B. Dan, The Politics of Economic Leadership: The Causes and Consequences of Presidential Rhetoric (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), pp. 17–33. According to Wood’s calculations, Clinton’s public addresses contained on average 38.85 sentences a month about the economy compared to 16.57 for Reagan, and the monthly average difference between his optimistic and pessimistic sentences was 14.36 compared with 1.22 for Reagan. 50. Ferdinand, Pamela, and Grunwald, Michael, ‘At Two Commencements, Perspective is the Reality’, Washington Post, 11 June 1999, p. A3; Economic Report of the President 1999, p. 166, and Economic Report of the President 2000, pp. 342, 352, 354; Mishel, Lawrence, Bernstein, Jared, and Schmitt, John, The State of Working America (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 2001). 51. Morgan, Age of Deficits, pp. 195–96, 201–02; Johnston, David, ‘Gap between Rich and Poor Found Substantially Wider’, New York Times, 5 September 1999, p. A14. 52. Elmendof, Douglas, Liebman, Jeffrey, and Wilcox, David, ‘Fiscal Policy and Social Security during the 1990s’, and Feldstein, Martin in ‘Summary of Discussion’, in Frankel and Orszag, American Economic Policy in the 1990s, pp. 75–77, 747; Economic Report of the President 2009, p. 320. 53. Brenner, The Boom and the Bubble, pp. 247–50; Kadlec, Daniel, ‘A $1 Trillion Plunge: The Thrill Rise isn’t Over’, and Greenwald, John, ‘Doom Stalks the Dotcoms’, Time, 17 April 2000, pp. 28–34; Stiglitz, The Roaring Nineties, p. 42. 54. Goodman, Peter, ‘Taking a Hard Look at the Greenspan Legacy’, New York Times, 8 October 2008, p. A5; Greenspan, Age of Turbulence, pp. 198–99, 375–76.

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4 FOUND AND LOST: A THIR D WAY ON HEALTH CAR E ALEX WADDAN

When Republican candidate Scott Brown won the Senate special election in Massachusetts in January 2010 it looked as if consecutive Democratic presidencies were to fail in their efforts at a major overhaul of the United States’ health care arrangements. Brown’s win gave the Republicans their 41st vote and it looked as if, once again, concerted opposition had helped derail health care reform with potentially disastrous consequences for a Democratic President and the Congress.1 As it turned out President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress adopted a series of extraordinary procedural measures finally to push health reform through in March 2010. Thus President Obama appeared to have reached the holy grail long sought by Democrats, or at least a complicated version of it, that had eluded Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson and most recently and perhaps notably Bill Clinton. Leaving aside the long-term political and policy consequences of ‘Obamacare’ this legislative triumph came 16 years after the demise of President Clinton’s effort to enact the Health Security Act (HSA) had left some analysts pronouncing that comprehensive health care reform was effectively beyond the capacity of government in Washington,

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DC.2 Furthermore, the aftermath of the Clinton plan’s failure, when linked to the mid-term congressional elections of 1994, suggested that the partisan results of trying to enact such a bold reform in this controversial policy domain had been disastrous for Clinton and his party. Stanley Greenberg, a Clinton pollster, acknowledged: ‘The health care defeat was catastrophic for Democrats’.3 While, however, it is unsurprising that the defeat of the HSA dominates health care retrospectives of the Clinton administration, this legislative failure was not the only aspect of health care politics and policy of significance during the Clinton presidency. First, Clinton was able to extract some political revenge against the Republicans through the budget standoff of 1995 by emphasising his support for the existing Medicare and Medicaid arrangements that the new GOP majorities in Congress proposed to restructure. Second, there were, subsequently, some policy changes such as the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as part of the 1997 Balanced Budget Agreement. The primary focus of this chapter, however, is on the formulation and fate of the HSA with a focus on the question of how Clinton’s effort at reform came to be seen as an exercise in promoting Big Government solutions – and was largely denigrated as such – when the policy framework chosen to guide that reform was consciously perceived as preserving the fundamental market orientation of the existing American health care system. The chapter will end with some thoughts on why Obama, in contrast to Clinton, was able to push through health care reform. As commentators conducted the post-mortem on the HSA the conventional wisdom soon centred on the notion that the whole project had been too ambitious.4 This interpretation belies the fact that some contemporaries believed that significant reform was possible5 and, as will be explained below, rather ignores the fact that there was plenty of accumulated evidence that reform of some sort was necessary. A further aspect to this conventional wisdom was that the Clinton plan was just too far to the left. It is hardly surprising that conservative critics made this assertion, but it was also an allegation made by some of Clinton’s own supporters. Indeed, some who had done most to promote Clinton’s initial bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential

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nomination attacked him for betraying their values and straying into the tried and defeated realm of liberal ideology and Big Government solutions to social policy problems.6 That is, Clinton had been elected as a New Democrat who would seek out Third Way answers to the country’s problems. Many New Democrats, however, saw little of the Third Way in the HSA.

The Third Way, the Democratic Leadership Council and the Health Security Act The concept of the Third Way has not really survived beyond the 1990s and struggled for intellectual coherence even when most vigorously trumpeted by Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and academics such as Anthony Giddens.7 Nevertheless, its advocates injected considerable effort into making the concept a meaningful one. In the US the most conscious effort to forge a substantive Third Way came from the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and its associated think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).8 One aspect of the political branding inherent in the use of the term Third Way was clearly electoral inasmuch as the DLC was determined to portray the Democratic Party as reliably centrist and as no longer indulging in what the DLC argued were the liberal excesses that had stretched from the 1960s to the 1980s.9 An explicit acknowledgement of this branding was the insistence of candidate Clinton on describing himself as a New Democrat. And in electoral terms this was a successful ploy.10 Beyond electoral considerations it is important to emphasise that Clinton was committed to finding new ways of achieving traditional Democratic goals that did not rely on old ‘tax and spend’ methods. Furthermore, while laying claim to the political centre, Third Way advocates insisted that their ideas did not simply constitute a bland centrism that split the difference between right and left. They promised bold innovation, and New Democrat literature regularly referred to the need for a ‘radical departure’ and spoke of the essential dynamism of ‘the “vital center” of American Politics’ and the associated ‘fresh agenda of big ideas’.11

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The guiding premise of the Third Way was that the impact of increased international economic competition, the relative decline of manufacturing and the rise of service industries, the deficit and debt, and the relative stagnation of real income since the mid-1970s meant that the old ideological formulas were outdated. Al From, founder and CEO of the DLC until 2009, explained the resulting rationale: Take the old left-right argument about the size and role of government. We cannot guarantee Americans economic security in a fast paced global economy simply by making government larger, stronger, and more centralized as many liberals suggest. Nor can we create opportunities for Americans or shield them from discrimination by making government disappear as many conservatives desire. Clearly the solutions to these problems must come from a ‘third way’.12 Translating these sentiments into concrete policy proposals, however, was sometimes problematic and this proved to be the case with regard to health care reform. After the mid-term elections of November 1994 New Democrat leaders queued to declare that the health care reform effort had been critical in undermining Clinton’s winning – New Democrat – image of 1992. Will Marshall, a leading figure at the PPI, lamented that Clinton’s insistence on universal coverage for Americans harked back to the ‘old-time Democratic religion’.13 The PPI’s health care specialist, David Kendall, reflected: ‘Without question, the historic setback Democrats suffered in 1994 was due in part to public apprehension about the Clinton health plan – an effort to secure universal access to health insurance through a new federal entitlement’.14 Another related criticism was that President Clinton opted to pursue health reform before embarking on welfare reform since it was the latter, and the promise ‘to end welfare as we know it’, that had helped most sharply to define Clinton’s New Democrat persona in the 1992 campaign. According to Micky Kaus’s logic, that prioritisation of health over welfare was a catastrophic choice: ‘I don’t think it is too much of an exaggeration to say that if in 1994 Clinton had pushed for welfare reform instead of his health plan, we

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might now be talking about a Democratic realignment rather than a Republican realignment’.15 Before moving on to look at the details of the HSA and the legitimacy of these complaints from New Democrat figures about how that plan abandoned the Third Way approach and retreated into the party’s comfort zone of an old New Deal style solution, it is worth emphasising quite why the administration felt under such pressure to act dramatically in the health care arena.

The Health Care Crisis Comprehensive reform of the US health care system was bound to involve a complex legislative package. By the early 1990s the fundamental and somewhat contradictory problems were clearly evident (and were even more so when President Obama took office in 2009). In short, the prevailing arrangements for delivering health care in the US cost the economy, meaning both the private sector and government, too much and yet those arrangements simultaneously served too few of the population. First, it is important to establish just how much of the US economy and also government spending was consumed by health care. In 1960 health care spending accounted for 5.2 per cent of US GDP. By 1970 that figure had risen to 7.1 per cent. In 1980 it stood at 8.9 per cent, rising to 12.2 per cent by 1990. By 1992 this number had jumped again to 13.3 per cent. The fact that health care expenditure was rising and taking up more resources was not unusual. The often expensive improvements in medical technologies and increasing life expectancy meant that more people were demanding more care, but examining comparative data highlights the significance of the numbers in the US case. In the UK, over the same period from 1960 to 1992, health care spending as a percentage of GDP had risen from 3.9 per cent to 6.8 per cent. The OECD country with the next highest percentage of GDP devoted to health care spending after the US in 1992 was Canada at 9.8 per cent. In Germany the figure was 9.6 per cent and it was 8.9 per cent in France.16 In short the US was an outlier in terms of the proportion of the economy devoted to health spending. This in

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itself might not seem problematic. What is wrong, it might be asked, with spending large amounts on delivering health care? The character of the spending, however, illustrates why this expenditure was so burdensome to much of American business and to the federal and state governments. The nature of the US health care system means that most Americans receive their health insurance as a benefit from either their own or a family member’s employer. In 1992, 148.3 million Americans had employment-related insurance.17 The problem was that the cost to employers of offering health insurance to their workers had risen sharply through the 1970s and 1980s. So even though wages had become relatively stagnant over this period the expense of hiring workers for those employers who did provide insurance had risen considerably. According to Mark Peterson: ‘Between 1970 and 1989, employer spending on wages and salaries, controlling for inflation, went up just 1 per cent, but for health benefits, it rose 163 per cent.’18 For government as well the rise in costs associated with the Medicare and Medicaid programmes seemed unsustainable. Medicare, the programme providing insurance for the elderly and disabled, was established in 1965 with a complicated funding formula that saw some of the costs defrayed by a separate payroll tax paid into a trust fund. The programme’s costs, however, rose at a much faster rate than initially anticipated as the number of enrolees increased dramatically and many new treatments for the elderly became available. In 1970 there were 20.5 million Medicare beneficiaries. By 1980 there were 28.5 million and by 1990 34.2 million. Medicare expenditure had risen from $7.5 billion in 1970 to $111 billion by 1990. This rate of growth then exploded so that in 1992 Medicare spending stood at $135.8 billion.19 This meant that as a percentage of federal government spending Medicare rose from 3.5 per cent in 1970 to 8.6 per cent in 1990 and continued on to take up 11.7 per cent of the federal government’s budget in 1995.20 Medicaid, which relies on federal and state government monies to provide cover for low-income Americans, had also seen its costs spiral from $71.7 billion in 1990 to $101.6 billion by 1992 (with the federal government footing $65.4 billion of

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that latter total).21 Moreover, while in 1990 Medicaid took up 30 per cent of federal funds directed to the states, by 1993 that figure had risen to 39 per cent.22 These numbers help explain why Clinton was convinced that reform had to reduce health care costs to both business and government as a condition of future economic growth and deficit reduction.23 The other big issue that the Clinton administration identified was the increasing number of Americans without health insurance cover. In 1987, 31 million people, amounting to 12.9 per cent of the population, had no health insurance. By 1992 that number had risen to 39.7 million, constituting 15.3 per cent of the population.24 Significantly the clear majority of the uninsured lived in working households, meaning that the uninsured could not simply be dismissed as undeserving. In 1992, as health care emerged as a central theme in Clinton’s campaign for the presidency, over 30 million of the uninsured ‘were in working families’. Critically, however, ‘Seven of ten were adults or children in families making less than $30,000 in 1992, often by working in small businesses.’25 This large group of people, who were employed but whose employers did not offer health insurance and who did not earn enough to insure themselves privately, were in a particularly unfortunate position. Their plight reflected how structural changes to the US economy had exacerbated the problem of increased uninsurance as the decline of manufacturing jobs and the increase in low paid service sector work meant that jobs likely to offer insurance were being replaced by ones less likely to do so. This point reinforces the overall importance of the debate about health care reform. The Clinton plan, if enacted, would have had significant economic consequences in terms of redistribution as the primary beneficiaries would have been low-income working Americans.26 By the early 1990s, therefore, the United States was an outlier among industrialized countries in the most contradictory ways. The country spent more money on health care than any other nation, yet unlike other countries many people had no formal health cover. There seemed, therefore, to be a pressing need for reform that was apparently backed up by a public appetite for comprehensive change. Polling analyst Daniel Yankelovich reported: ‘Every year since 1982

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the Harris poll has been asking whether people believe that the health care system needs only minor changes, fundamental changes, or a complete rebuilding. In 1992 . . . a majority opted for completely rebuilding the system.’27 This mood had been given a more concrete form in a Senate special election in November 1991 when Democrat Harris Wofford defeated the much better known Republican candidate Richard Thornburgh. Polls in the summer of 1991 had shown Thornburgh well ahead but as Wofford focused on health care issues his campaign was revitalised, and he won with 55 per cent of the vote. It was notable that Wofford’s appeal was not just to the uninsured as he secured votes across different income groups.28 A New York Times report commented on how the positive reaction to Wofford’s first advertisement about the need for a national health insurance system had led the candidate and his advisory team to make that issue the central feature of his campaign: ‘In that advertisement, Mr. Wofford said that if people have a fundamental right to a lawyer when accused of a crime, that working people should have the right to a doctor when they get sick.’29 It did also appear as if there was a growing consensus amongst primary stakeholders involved with providing health care on the need for change. Two of the groups historically most opposed to the concept of national health insurance, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Health Insurers Association of America (HIAA), both endorsed the idea of mandating employers to provide insurance and of reaching for universal coverage. Even the US Chamber of Commerce had moved towards accepting that some form of mandate on employers was necessary. Responding to this environment President George H.W. Bush presented his own reform plan in February 1992. Based on helping families afford insurance through a system of tax credits and vouchers Bush championed his idea as a means of improving access to insurance without involving federal bureaucrats. There was minimal chance of any serious legislative action on this proposal in an election year but, as the New York Times reported, the fact that Bush felt compelled to join ‘the debate over a topic that has generated a great deal of interest increases the likelihood that some health insurance plan will be enacted in the next few years.’30

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The climate did appear favourable for a major reform effort and five days after taking office President Clinton appointed Hillary Clinton as head of a task force on National Health Care Reform. The choice of Hillary Clinton, though controversial and unexpected, was popular within the administration and emphasised the President’s commitment to the reform cause.31 The task force’s remit was to devise a plan that could be submitted to Congress within 100 days. Tackling the problems of cost and access simultaneously, however, was always likely to be problematic. If the uninsured were to be given protection this would imply an extra effort or cost. Meanwhile, restraining or cutting costs would seem to imply further limiting the supply of care. How then did Clinton propose to square this circle?

Finding the Third Way? During the campaign Clinton had promised to bring about universal insurance and cost control but had not given away too many details of how that would be achieved. The campaign treatise, Putting People First, had condemned the existing health care arrangements that left ‘60 million Americans without adequate health insurance and bankrupts our families, our businesses, and our federal budget.’ But at the same time Clinton promised not to ‘socialize’ American medicine, so there was also a commitment to ‘preserve what’s best in our system; your family’s right to choose who provides care and coverage, American innovation and technology, and the world’s best private doctors and hospitals.’32 Nevertheless, while avoiding specifics on the campaign trail Clinton had effectively decided on the principles that would guide reform. That is, he settled on the idea of ‘managed competition’ that would encourage insurers to offer affordable, high quality packages while also placing new mandates on employers to insure their workers. Critically this allowed Clinton to promise comprehensive reform that would not need to be funded by new taxes. In a set-piece campaign speech in September 1992 he explained that his version of health care reform would incorporate ‘personal choice, private care, private insurance, private management’ but that existing inefficiencies would be removed by ‘a national system to put a lid on costs, to

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require insurance reforms, to facilitate partnerships between business, government, and health care providers.’33 At this stage Clinton anticipated devising a package that would achieve his goals by encouraging competition rather than through extensive regulation.34 Once in office the immediate priority for the Clinton administration was to pass its economic package and this tortured process delayed the introduction of a health reform plan.35 The 100-day deadline slipped by and Hillary Clinton and task force co-ordinator Ira Magaziner were assailed for the secrecy in which they conducted their work even as the task force’s staff grew to over 500 people, arranged into 15 clusters, looking at different aspects of the reform process.36 In the end the president did not make his speech heralding the beginning of the legislative effort until he addressed a joint session of Congress on 22 September 1993. That night, however, seemed to get health care reform back on track as Clinton condemned the way that health care was too often delivered in the US. Our health care system takes 35 percent more of our income than any other country, insures fewer people, requires more Americans to pay more and more for less and less, and gives them fewer choices. There is no excuse for that kind of system, and it’s time to fix it.37 The immediate public reaction to the address was enthusiastic. Gallup polls showed that support for Clinton’s plan increased in the days after his speech, rising from 55 per cent to 59 per cent.38 In his post-mortem analysis of what had gone wrong with the reform effort Paul Starr, a central player in the inner circle in drawing up the HSA, reflected on the triumphalism the morning after the speech: At first it seemed Clinton would move the country. The next morning, Stanley Greenberg, the president’s pollster, crowed that the overnight surveys showed we were winning two-thirds approval. Commentators were saying that no matter how the battle over details might work out, the president had established the right principles and challenged Americans to a great, historic

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mission. The principle of health coverage for all was an achievement, wrote A.M. Rosenthal of the New York Times, that Clinton could already nail to the wall.39 A year later opinion was rather different: columnists and fellow New Democrats lambasted Clinton for having been so misguided in his estimation of what could be achieved and for advancing a plan that was allegedly so out of step with American values. Yet in his memoirs Clinton continued to insist that: ‘contrary to how it was later portrayed, health experts generally praised it [the HSA] as moderate and workable. It certainly wasn’t a government take-over of the health-care system, as its critics charged.’ 40 What then was the HSA, and why did opinion about its ideological moorings vary so much? The concept of managed competition that underpinned the HSA was in fact relatively new to the overall debate about health care. Starr reflects that at the start of 1992 it was ‘not on the menu at all’.41 At that point the competing ideas about the best route to reform ranged from the so-called ‘single payer’ scheme favoured by liberal Democrats through to the principle promoted by conservatives of extending tax credits to make insurance more affordable. Perhaps the most passionate long-time advocates of a move to a national health insurance system were liberals who championed a single payer model of health care as seen in Canada. A single payer scheme – with government as the payer – would effectively have meant dismantling the existing insurance industry. ‘A single-payer system is, most simply, a public program that collects most of the money that goes into health care and pays it out to those who provide health services’.42 Under such a system everyone would have access to care, and costs would be contained as hospitals, doctors and other health care providers would be operating within an overall budget. This would not necessarily make health care providers state employees, but to use one of the most abused phrases in the American health care debate a single-payer scheme would have gone a long way towards ‘socializing’ health risks across the population. Democrats Paul Wellstone (Senator from Minnesota) and Representative James McDermott of Washington State did introduce a single payer bill in Congress in

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March 1993 that gained 64 co-sponsors in the House but only four in the Senate a month later. While there was minimal chance of a single payer scheme being legislated the idea did have support outside Congress: single-payer advocates have identifiable support among a number of key national groups: more than a dozen unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Communications Workers of America and the United Mine Workers of America; mental health and public health organizations, including the American Psychological Association and the American Public Health Association; consumer groups, including Consumers Union of United States Inc. and the Consumer Federation of America; some elderly advocates, including the National Council of Senior Citizens and the Gray Panthers; and, representing the opposite end of the age spectrum, the increasingly influential Children’s Defense Fund.43 Some of the voices in the single payer movement were also scornful of the emerging managed competition methodology. Quentin Young, president of a 5,000-strong organization calling itself Physicians for a National Health Plan that supported a single-payer approach, dismissed managed competition as an idea that ‘preserves the parasitic elements and frustrates the public’s aspirations to a national health plan’.44 While single-payer advocates effectively constituted a pressure group on the left their ideas did not unduly influence the administration’s thinking. Neither did the ideas about extending tax credits to help people buy insurance, put forward by conservatives, that generally fell short of promising universal coverage. The administration’s backing for managed competition was based on the notion that it provided a vehicle for achieving its goals of universal coverage and cost control in an ideologically centrist manner. As it turned out, however, Clinton had been over-optimistic in his expectation that managed competition would provide a means of reaching these goals with a relatively limited new role for government.45 When it finally

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arrived in material form the HSA, at over 1,300 pages, proposed to introduce an array of regulatory codes and supervisory agencies. The length of the bill attracted much ridicule, even though it was not that unusual for legislation to be over 1,000 pages. Hillary Clinton later acknowledged that the original aim had been to produce a bill of around 250 pages: ‘We were proposing to streamline and simplify a major social policy, but it looked like we couldn’t streamline and simplify our own bill.’ 46 Related to the length and complexity of the HSA was the manner in which the administration effectively handed down the details of what it wanted to Congress. One central difference in the strategies adopted by presidents Clinton and Obama was the manner in which the latter, consciously deviating from the efforts of his Democratic predecessor, left Congress to decide on the detail of health care legislation through 2009 with the intention that this would give the legislative branch a greater sense of ownership of any legislative proposals than had been the case in 1993. Before criticising Clinton and his advisors for a heavy-handed approach, though, it is important to remember that it was senior Democratic figures in Congress who urged that the executive branch present a fully developed proposal to lawmakers.47 In order to achieve universal coverage the bill proposed a mandate on large employers, requiring them to pay at least 80 per cent of the cost of an insurance premium for their workers. Smaller businesses would be helped to bear these costs through subsidies and an overall cap on what they would be expected to pay.48 Further to this, the HSA would have created so-called ‘health alliances’ where all nonelderly people would have been required to buy insurance.49 In effect these would have acted as large regional health insurance purchasing agencies. They would pick and choose from the various plans devised by insurers and providers, and then offer a choice to subscribers from a range of options. In addition practices such as denying insurance to people with pre-existing conditions would be stopped. Altogether the plan aimed to secure a series of objectives. First, through expanded regulation and the use of the employer mandate, to achieve universal coverage; second, to control costs through incentives for savings of

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scale and, if necessary, by placing limits on the growth rate of insurance premiums for the health alliances; third, to continue to give people choices between different types of insurance plans and providers; fourth, to leave the majority of funding for health care and the provision of care in the private sector.50 The end result, so thought those who worked most closely on the plan, was a design, which although complicated, built on the best aspects of the existing system while making it more just and less wasteful. Walter Zelman, who had been an advisor to Clinton during the 1992 campaign and then worked as a central figure in the health care task force, described the final plan in the following terms: [T]he Health Security Act . . . draws on many competing proposals. But its goal is not to merge them into a lowest-commondenominator political compromise; rather it is to draw on the best of competing ideas to create a new, higher-level synthesis, and in doing so to overcome the ideological and political deadlock that has marked the reform debate over the past decade. In this way, the Health Security Act attempts to achieve . . . a ‘bridge to compromise’.51 This statement would at least make it appear as if the HSA was an attempt to do health care reform according to the principles of the Third Way.

Losing the Third Way In an internal White House memo in May 1993 Mike Lux, then working on public liaison for the health plan, outlined a possible strategy for capturing sufficient support for reform to progress: ‘The trick in passing health care reform has always been in part to figure out a package that can draw some business and provider support, while exciting the people who should be our base.’52 In the immediate afterglow of Clinton’s September speech to Congress this happy scenario appeared plausible, but any early optimism on the part of the administration and those

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involved in designing the HSA soon diminished as the forces of opposition gathered while much of the liberal base remained unexcited. Everyone involved knew how difficult it would be to transform the HSA from plan to legislative achievement. Mark Peterson explains how the administration hoped to get through the congressional maze. The objective was ‘to co-opt the left and right simultaneously’ bringing along ‘voters, interest groups, and centrist members of Congress’. Peterson further explains that rather than working directly with Republicans, the administration expected that moderate Republicans would pursue their own version of health reform. In the end a final compromise package would emerge, although the administration would redline any proposal not securing universal coverage.53 As it was, more conservative alternative plans did emerge but no compromise was ever seriously negotiated and in the end Republicans, scenting political blood, turned their wrath on the Clinton plan and denounced its aims and methods. Moreover, the plan failed to win the unqualified backing of those liberals who preferred a more radical plan akin to the McDermott and Wellstone single-payer package. Although it was not immediately obvious hopes of securing some Republican co-operation proved forlorn. Rhode Island Republican Senator John Chafee did present a bill that gained 21 co-sponsors including Republican Senate leader Bob Dole from Kansas and two Democrats. Chafee’s bill called for universal insurance to be attained by imposing an individual mandate, but this received little serious legislative attention and in any case did not properly explain how its provisions would be funded.54 Senator Dole’s positioning is perhaps the most revealing. As Theda Skocpol observes, his initial professed willingness to negotiate over the possibilities for reform was quickly reversed and as conservatives within the GOP gained sway and ‘as soon as the right-wing counter-attack against health care reform gathered steam, he started scuttling searches for effective compromises’, concerned that health care compromise would in turn compromise his bid for the 1996 Republican presidential nomination.55 Chafee continued to explore avenues to reach a deal, but the increasingly dominant tone of the Republican response was set by figures such as the influential conservative strategist William Kristol. In a memo in December

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1993 he urged that conservatives simply defeat the President since any deal might, re-legitimize middle-class dependence for ‘security’ on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle-class by restraining government.56 In his memoirs, Clinton notes how House Republican Whip Newt Gingrich warned House Republicans that the passage of the HSA would keep the Democrats in the majority ‘for a long time’.57 Unsurprisingly, therefore, Gingrich attacked the HSA from the start, even as some Senate Republicans still talked the language of possible compromise. As Skocpol notes, while aware of the political stakes, the opposition from Gingrich and like-minded conservatives was ‘sincerely ideological’ and quickly took centre stage in the GOP’s response.58 Some interest groups also matched this intensity of opposition. Small businesses, worried by the employer mandate and unsatisfied by the promise of subsidies to ease their burden, gathered under the umbrella of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) to make their hostility highly vocal. The insurance industry was also unimpressed, especially the smaller insurers who feared that they would be driven out of business by the practices of the regional health alliance. Hence the Health Insurers Association of America (HIAA) led the rising tide of opposition to the HSA. This group was behind the famous (or infamous depending on perspective) ‘Harry and Louise’ advertisements. These advertisements played on the fears of those people who already had health insurance, with which they were satisfied, by implying that government bureaucrats were going to drive up the cost of their health care while simultaneously reducing their choice of health care provider. Even though the advertisements were in fact only selectively aired, Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro relate how ‘White House officials watched in horror as the advertisements

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became a “touchstone” in the minds of journalists and legislators for the claim that the Clinton plan was “too much, too fast.”’59 One particularly interesting case of interaction between the Republican Party and a business organization came when, reversing the normal flow chart of lobbying behaviour, the GOP leadership vigorously applied pressure on the US Chamber of Commerce to abandon its relatively sympathetic stance on the HSA. The Chamber’s leadership did not unreservedly support the Clinton administration, but was amenable to the principles of an employer mandate and universal coverage. In early 1994, however, under intense coercion from the NFIB and conservative political leaders the Chamber reversed itself and renounced its previous support for both those ideas.60 There were many employers who were members of the Chamber who would have benefited from some control of health care costs but the most vociferous campaign came from those factions of the organization that might have been damaged by reform and others that were simply ideologically opposed to the Clinton plan. Ironically, however, while the administration antagonized the conservative base it did not excite its liberal supporters with many of the latter complaining that the HSA was not radical or ambitious enough. Hence some single-payer advocates stood on the sidelines rather than aggressively coming to the defence of the administration’s efforts. Perhaps more damaging, though, was the manner in which New Democrats abandoned the President and reinforced the perspective that this was too much of a New Deal-style initiative aimed at creating another Big Government entitlement. In this context a particularly damaging development for the White House was the presentation of an alternative plan by Democratic Representative Jim Cooper from Tennessee. Cooper’s announcements that his bill was ‘squarely in the middle’ of competing ideas about reform and that it was a proper ‘bipartisan proposal’ undercut the administration’s message that the HSA was a balanced and moderate means of dealing with a huge policy problem.61 But the Cooper plan would not have guaranteed universal coverage, rejected the principle of an employer mandate and did not even have a properly developed explanation of how it would control costs. And it made no

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progress. Yet it added to the notion that there was a more moderate route to reform than that being proposed by the White House. As Sidney Blumenthal, who later became a senior advisor to the president, reflects, ‘The assiduous care the task force took to put together a centrist approach alienated both liberal and conservative Democrats’ and left all sides decrying ‘a bureaucratic monstrosity.’ 62 New Democrat anxiety about Clinton’s mindset was reinforced early in 1994 when Clinton gave his State of the Union address. Overruling his recently recruited advisor David Gergen, the president, supported by Hillary Clinton, insisted on adding a flamboyant touch to his speech. Brandishing a pen Clinton declared that he would not sign any legislation that did not guarantee universal health care coverage.63 This gesture, while it may have reassured liberals in Congress about the president’s commitment, undercut future room for compromise. Clinton later regretted the decision to issue such a categorical veto threat.64 The State of the Union took place in an atmosphere charged by the emerging furore over the so-called Whitewater affair. Whitewater, shorthand for allegations that the Clintons had improperly used their influence to benefit a partner in a failed real estate deal in Arkansas, had emerged briefly during Clinton’s bid for the Democratic nomination. It hit the headlines again at a bad time for the health care effort in late October 1993. Hillary Clinton lamented that ‘Whitewater signalled a new tactic in political warfare: investigation as a weapon for political destruction’.65 Hence the backdrop for the debate about health care grew even less conducive to negotiation. In the end the death knell finally sounded for health care reform almost exactly a year after Clinton’s 1993 speech to Congress when Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, a supporter of the HSA, acknowledged that the battle was over. In reality the writing had been on the wall for longer than that, as Clinton’s opponents won the argument in the court of public opinion. By July 1994 polls showed that ‘endorsement for the plan had dropped from 57 per cent to 37 per cent’.66 By the summer of 1994 policy calculations had given way to electoral ones and the wider polity had been disrupted by the media and Republican attention on Whitewater. As health reform went through

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its death throes, polls showed approval ratings for the Clintons plummeting as accusations abounded that they, and by implication, the policies they promoted were untrustworthy.67 Clinton and congressional Democrats did later manage to introduce some reforms after striking deals with Republicans. In 1996 the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was legislated. This meant that workers moving from one job to another could not be excluded from their new employer’s group insurance scheme because of a pre-existing condition. In the aftermath of this legislation Bill Clinton declared that HIPAA was ‘a long step toward the kind of health care our nation needs’.68 In reality, HIPAA did not specifically regulate premiums and so still left people with health problems vulnerable to the designs of insurers. More significantly, during the negotiations for the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, the White House managed to secure the establishment of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This provided an initial $24 billion of funding to states in the form of a block grant to provide health insurance for children in low-income families that did not qualify for Medicaid. At the time SCHIP was ‘the nation’s largest publicly funded health insurance expansion’ since the mid-1960s.69

Conclusion: Defeat for the Third Way Whatever the merits of HIPAA and SCHIP, if judged against the Clinton administration’s original goals of achieving universal coverage and controlling costs then the final record was disappointing. Medical inflation did in fact ease during the 1990s as Health Maintenance Organizations made increasing use of ‘managed care’ plans that increased gate-keeping restrictions on access to some providers and medical treatments. Health care spending as a percentage of GDP had risen ‘only’ to 13.6 per cent by 2000. The effectiveness of those techniques of cost control diminished, however, and by 2005 health spending as a proportion of GDP stood at 15.7 per cent.70 Equally clearly there was no real movement towards universal coverage. Indeed, in 1998, 16.3 per cent of the population was uninsured. By 2001 this had dropped to 14.6 per cent, but had risen again to 15.4 per cent by 2008.71

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Overall, therefore, the failure to bring about comprehensive health care reform in the early 1990s allowed for the persistence of one of the main problems afflicting American society, the nation’s economy and government finances. As the reform effort unravelled through 1994 the administration was accused of making many strategic mistakes. These included allegations that: the task force was ungainly and its secrecy alienating; Hillary Clinton was bound to draw fire just because of who she was; the delay in introducing the bill was costly; or, alternatively, it was introduced too soon as it was unveiled before welfare reform; reformers misjudged what the public’s demand for change actually meant, and the communications were inadequate as opponents outsmarted the White House. But beyond these strategic considerations the conventional wisdom dictated that the HSA was mistaken in concept as it suggested that a Democratic administration had reverted to Big Government solutions when Clinton had been elected to be something quite different. It would indeed be hard to argue that the administration got the strategy right. Yet, in the context of an apparently unsustainable pattern of development in US health care arrangements through the 1980s and early 1990s, it would seem that health care was an area where bold government intervention was required. Furthermore, given the reform options available, it was at least reasonable for the administration to see the HSA and its embrace of managed competition as an essentially ideologically centrist means of addressing the problem. The alternatives that were offered and deemed to be more moderate such as the Cooper and Chafee bills did not properly map out a route to comprehensive change while the administration eschewed the preferred liberal method of a single payer plan. The administration’s opponents outmanoeuvred the White House, but their mix of ideological and self-interested opposition should not define judgment on the HSA. It might be argued that the distaste for the plan expressed by the DLC’s leaders, the self-appointed guardians of the Third Way, undermines the claim that the administration was acting in accordance with Third Way ideas. If so, then that would suggest the Third Way was a movement inevitably limited in ambition rather than one that really believed in the bold principles it publicly embraced.

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In the end, from the administration’s perspective, the health care saga was a permanent blow to its hopes of setting the national agenda. A policy failure turned into a political disaster and, by the time of the 1994 mid-term elections, an ambitious reform that might have reshaped the political map in favour of the Democrats had produced exactly the opposite partisan effect.72

Epilogue: Finally Health Care Reform (or, ‘Obamacare’ succeeds where ‘Hillarycare’ failed) At one point during the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 New York Senator Hillary Clinton contrasted her commitment to comprehensive health care reform with the less resolute position of Barack Obama.73 By the time of the autumn election campaign, however, Senator Obama had embraced the principle of universal coverage and then, when in office, made an overhaul of the health care system a key theme of his presidency. Finally, on 23 March 2010, he signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that is scheduled to bring about near universal health care coverage and, in the long-term, control health care spending. The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that, by the time of full implementation of the law in 2019, it will mean that an extra 32 million people are insured.74 It is worth reflecting on some similarities and differences between events in 1993/4 and 2009/10. As for the similarities, health care reform was on the political agenda in both periods because the problems of uninsurance and rising costs persisted. And in the context of an economic downturn and growing unemployment the worries about affordable access to care were more acute. Second, the details of the reform plan that emerged were extremely complex since the heterogeneous nature of the US health care system means that reform touches on a vast array of institutional and organizational arrangements. A third similarity was that through the legislative process the Republicans were steadfast in their opposition. There were, though, some important differences. Interest group opposition was less vociferous in 2009 than in 1993. There was

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certainly opposition, but Obama did, from the start, portray the reform effort as being one that would include all stakeholders in health care, and his administration quickly made concessions to key players, notably pharmaceutical companies and hospitals, to diminish their hostility to reform. Furthermore, the Obama White House took a different legislative approach and let congressional Democrats develop the details of reform rather than handing down a prepared package. Critically, the numbers in Congress and especially the Senate were different. In March 1993 President Clinton had asked Senator Robert Byrd, the presiding officer of the Senate, if it might be possible to push health reform through the Senate via the budget reconciliation process. Such a move would have meant that a filibuster could not stop reform. Byrd refused the request.75 Obama, however, had the chance to work with a nominal 60 votes in the Senate through 2009. At times this meant conceding considerable ground to individual Senators who in effect had a personal veto but it did mean that Republican opposition could be overcome. Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts changed the numbers but by then the Senate had at least passed a bill, which, in turn, the congressional Democratic leadership pushed through the House despite the misgivings of many House Democrats about what they saw as the inadequacies of the Senate bill. The House then enacted a series of so-called ‘patches’ to the Senate bill. Senate Democrats, in turn, adopted budget reconciliation measures to prevent a likely Republican filibuster and to enact those patches. Overall, therefore, it would be unfair to judge Clinton’s failure against Obama’s success since the former was operating in a less favourable institutional environment. Nevertheless Obama’s success does lead to speculation about whether Clinton might have enjoyed more reward had he adopted a different legislative strategy and been more prepared to compromise with those interests traditionally opposed to comprehensive health care reform. Yet if Clinton’s decisions are to be criticized then viable alternative choices need to be laid out; and it is not clear what those alternatives might have been. Furthermore, in the form it was enacted the PPACA was very much a collection of proposals somewhat haphazardly brought together whereas the HSA,

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for all its complexities, did have an intellectual coherence. In the end Bill Clinton’s health care reform effort will remain a case study in legislative failure with costly political consequences and the conventional wisdom, that he pushed too far in a strategically naïve manner, will likely stay relatively unchallenged. But this should not hide the fact that Clinton put together a considered proposal to deal with immediate and significant problems that had very complex historical roots. In hindsight it seems fairer to judge this as a brave failure rather than as an unnecessary folly.

Notes 1.

Tumulty, Karen, ‘Does Brown’s Senate Win Mean the End of health Reform?’ Time.com, 20 January 2010, http://www.time.com/time/politics/ article/0,8599,1954980,00.html. 2. Steinmo, Sven and Jon Watts, ‘It’s the Institutions, Stupid! Why the United States can’t Pass Comprehensive National Health Insurance’, Journal of Health Politics Policy and Law 20/2 (1995), pp. 329–372. 3. Greenberg, Stanley, Middle Class Dreams: The Politics and Power of the New American Majority (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995) p. 308. 4. Aaron, Henry, ‘The Problem That Won’t Go Away’, in Henry Aaron ed., The Problem That Won’t Go Away: Reforming US Health Care Financing (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1995), pp. 1–12. 5. Contrary to much of the post-1994 commentary there was a general sense amongst some contemporaries that significant reform was at least possible in the 103rd Congress. See, for example, Mark Petersen, ‘The Politics of Health Care Policy: Overreaching in an Age of Polarization’ in Margaret Weir ed., The Social Divide: Political Parties and the Future of Activist Government (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1998), p. 221 and Jacob Hacker, ‘Learning from Defeat? Political Analysis and the Failure of Health Care Reform in the United States’, British Journal of Political Science 31/1 (2001), p. 63. 6. For a discussion of the DLC’s early support for the presidential bid of Governor Clinton of Arkansas see Kenneth Baer, Reinventing Democrats: The Politics of Liberalism from Reagan to Clinton (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2000). 7. Giddens, Anthony, The Third Way and Its Critics (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000). For a view of the Third Way beyond just the Anglo-American

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expression see Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroder, Europe: The Third Way – die Neue Mitte (London: Labour Party and the SPD, 1999). On the organization and development of the DLC see J. Hale, ‘The Making of the New Democrats’, Political Science Quarterly 110 (1995), pp. 207–32 and Baer: Reinventing Democrats. Galston, William, and Elaine Kamarack, The Politics of Evasion: Democrats and the Presidency (Washington, DC: Progressive Policy Institute, 1989). Penn, Mark, ‘Seizing the Center: Clinton’s Keys to Victory’, in Will Marshall, ed., Building the Bridge: 10 Big Ideas to Transform America (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield/Progressive Policy Institute, 1997), pp. 9–16. From, Al and Will Marshall, ‘Preface’ in Will Marshall and Martin Schram eds., Mandate for Change (New York: Berkley Books/the Progressive Policy Institute, 1993), p. xv; From, Al and Will Marshall, ‘From Big Government to Big Ideas,’ in Marshall: Building the Bridge, p. 1. From, Al, ‘Understanding the Third Way: A Primer on the New Politics for the Information Age’, in The New Democrat (September/October 1998), p. 28. Marshall quoted in David Cloud, ‘Health Care: Clinton’s Quandary’, in Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, special supplement, (10 October 1994), p. 19. Kendall, David, ‘Modernizing Medicare and Medicaid: The First Step Toward Universal Health Care’ in Marshall: Building the Bridge, p. 57. Kaus, Mickey, The End of Equality (New York: Basic Books, 1995), p. xiv. See also Byron Shafer, ‘The Partisan Legacy: Are there any New Democrats? (And by the way, was there a Republican Revolution?)’, in Colin Campbell and Bert Rockman, eds., The Clinton Legacy (New York: Chatham House, 2000), pp. 16–17. All these figures are from the OECD, OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, Health Data 2010, http://www.oecd.org/docume nt/16/0,3343,en_2649_34631_2085200_1_1_1_1,00.html. US Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1996 (Washington DC, Bureau of the Census), Table 173, p. 120. Peterson, Mark, ‘The Politics of Health Care Policy: Overreaching in an Age of Polarization’ in Weir: The Social Divide, p. 183. US Census Bureau: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1996, Table 163, p. 115. Moon, Marilyn, Medicare: A Policy Primer (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press, 2006), p. 38. Patel, Kant and Mark Rushefsky, Health Care Politics and Policy in America (Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1999), p. 59.

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22. Patel, Kant and Mark Rushefsky, Politics, Power and Policy Making: The case of health reform in the 1990s (Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1998), p. 41. 23. Jacobs, Lawrence and Robert Shapiro, Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), p. 80. 24. US Census Bureau: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1996, Table 173, p. 120. 25. Skocpol, Theda, Boomerang: Health Care Reform and the Turn Against Government, (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997), p. 16. 26. For an examination of the re-distributive effects of the health reform passed in 2010 see David Leonhardt, ‘In health bill, Obama attacks wealth inequality’, New York Times, 23 March 2010. 27. Yankelovich, Daniel, ‘The Debate that Wasn’t: The Public and the Clinton Plan’, Health Affairs 15 (Spring 1995), p. 12. Yankelovich in fact goes on to argue that the public and policy making elites had quite different perceptions of what the problems with the health care system were and therefore had divergent ideas about how to solve those problems. 28. Hacker, Jacob, The Road to Nowhere: The Genesis of President Clinton’s Plan for Health Security (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), p. 11. 29. deCourcy Hinds, Michael, ‘Pennsylvania; Wofford helped by voter mood swing’, New York Times, 7 November 1991. The article, however, also contained a cautionary statement from the respected political scientist Larry Sabato. Sabato said that the election was being over-interpreted and that ‘Far too much attention is being given to health care, and too little attention is given to the way the Wofford campaign controlled the agenda.’ 30. Wines, Michael, ‘Bush unveils plan for health care’, New York Times, 7 February 1992. 31. Clinton, Hillary Rodham, Living History (London: Headline, 2003), pp. 147–150. 32. Clinton, William and Al Gore, Putting People First: A Strategy for Change (New York: Times Books, 1992), p. 107. 33. Governor Clinton quoted in Theda Skocpol, Boomerang, p. 45. For a media report on this event showing how Clinton was seen as trying to occupy the middle ground on health reform see Gwen Ifill, ‘The 1992 campaign: The Democrats; Clinton proposes making employers cover health care’, in the New York Times, 25 September 1992. 34. Jacobs and Shapiro: Politicians Don’t Pander, pp. 80–4. 35. On the passage of the 1993 budget see Alex Waddan, Clinton’s Legacy? A New Democrat in Governance (Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, 2002), pp. 44–53.

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36. Clymer, Adam, Robert Pear and Robin Toner, ‘The health care debate: What went wrong? How the health care campaign collapsed – A special report’, New York Times, 28 August 1994. 37. Quoted in Skocpol, Boomerang, p. 1. Skocpol also charts some of the positive media reaction to the speech including from commentators such as William Schneider who later derided the administration and its health plan for a ‘Big Brother’ approach (see pp. 4–5 and p. 10 for contrary quotations from Schneider that reflect the mood change in Washington from one of expectation of some reform to explanations of why reform was doomed from the start). 38. Schneider, William, ‘Political Pulse – Health Care Reform: What Went Right’, National Journal, 2 October 1993. 39. Starr, Paul, ‘What Happened to Health Care Reform?’ The American Prospect 20 (Winter 1995), p. 20. Rosenthal was actually a little more circumspect. He wrote, after explaining that he was not an unqualified supporter of the President: ‘however the health plan finally reads, this President, no other, has persuaded the country that like education and police protection, health care is a right, never a charity to be carefully noted on a hospital record. He can hang that great achievement on the wall, right now.’ A.M. Rosenthal, ‘On my mind: A charity no more’, New York Times, 24 September 1993. 40. Clinton, William, My Life (London: Hutchinson), p. 549. 41. Starr, Paul, The Logic of Health Care Reform: Why and How the President’s Plan Will Work (New York: Penguin Books, revised edition, 1994), p. xiv. 42. Brown, E. Richard, ‘Should Single-Payer Advocates Support President Clinton’s Proposal for Health Care Reform’, American Journal of Public Health 84/2 (1994), p. 182. 43. Kosterlitz, Julie, ‘The left has its own prescription’, National Journal, 3 April 1993, http://www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/nj_19930403_57. php?mrefid=site_search. 44. Kosterlitz: ‘The left has its own prescription’. 45. Jacobs and Shapiro: Politicians Don’t Pander, pp. 83–4. 46. Clinton: Living History, p. 192. 47. Johnson, Haynes and David Broder, The System: The American Way of Politics at Breaking Point (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1997). 48. Paul Starr noted that the media coverage constantly referred to the 80 per cent figure as if all employers would pay that sum. In fact, he notes, many small businesses that did already insure their workers would have ended up with lower costs as a consequence of the Clinton plan. The detail of the employer mandate was, however, inadequately communicated and

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49.

50. 51. 52.

53.

54.

55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69.

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hence was little understood. Paul Starr, ‘What happened to health care reform?’ Companies employing over 5,000 workers would have been allowed to set up their own ‘corporate alliances’ for their workers rather than using the regional health alliance. Patel and Rushefsky: Health Care Politics and Policy in America, pp. 271–4. Zelman, Walter ‘The Rationale Behind the Clinton Health Reform Plan’, Health Affairs 14 (Spring 1994), p. 11. Lux quoted in Mark Peterson, ‘Clinton and Organized Interests: Splitting Friends, Unifying Enemies’, in Colin Campbell and Bert Rockman, eds., The Clinton Legacy (New York: Chatham House, 2000), p. 159. Peterson, Mark ‘The Congressional Graveyard for Health Care Reform’, in J.A. Morone and L.R. Jacobs, eds., Healthy, Wealthy and Fair: Health Care and the Good Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 220–1. For detail of the Chaffee bill see Kaiser Health News, Summary of a 1993 Republican Health Reform Plan, http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/ 2010/February/23/GOP-1993-health-reform-bill.aspx. Skocpol: Boomerang, p. 163. Kristol quoted in Johnson and Broder, The System, p. 234. Clinton: My Life, pp. 577–8. Skocpol: Boomerang, p. 143. Jacobs and Shapiro: Politicians Don’t Pander, p. 138. Judis, John, ‘Abandoned Surgery: Business and the Failure of Health Reform’, in The American Prospect 21 (Spring 1995), pp. 65–73. Johnson and Broder: The System, p. 314. Blumenthal, Sidney, The Clinton Wars: An Insider’s Account of the White House Years (New York, Penguin Books, 2003), p. 121. Clinton: Living History, p. 219. Johnson and Broder: The System, p. 270; Clinton: My Life, p. 576. Clinton: Living History, p. 194. Yankelovich, Daniel, ‘The Debate that Wasn’t: The Public and the Clinton Plan’, Health Affairs 15 (Spring 1995), p. 11. Johnson and Broder, The System, p. 274. Purdum, T., ‘Clinton signs bill to give portability in insurance’, New York Times, 22 August 1996. Brown, L. and M. Sparer, ‘Poor Program’s Progress: The Unanticipated Politics of Medicaid Policy’, Health Affairs 22/1, p. 36. For a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of an incremental approach to health care reform see Alex Waddan and Doug Jaenicke, ‘Recent incremental health care reforms in the US: A way forward or false promise?’ Policy and Politics 34:2 (2006), pp. 241–63.

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70. OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, Health Data 2010, http://www.oecd.org/document/16/0,3343,en_2649_34631_2085200 _1_1_1_1,00.html. 71. See US Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60–229, Income and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States (Washington DC: GPO, 2004) and US Census Bureau, ‘People without health insurance coverage by selected characteristics: 2007 and 2008’. http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/hlthins/ data/incpovhlth/2008/p60no236_table7.pdf. 72. Béland, Damiel, Francoise Vergniolle de Chantal and Alex Waddan, ‘Third way social policy: Clinton’s legacy?’ Policy and Politics 30/1 (2002), pp. 19–30. 73. Krugman, Paul, ‘Clinton, Obama, Insurance’, New York Times, 4 February 2008. 74. See Kaiser Family Foundation, ‘Summary of Health Reform Law’, http:// www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/8061.pdf. This also gives details of the complex array of measures that were included in the Act. 75. Clymer, Pear and Toner, ‘The health care debate’.

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5 THE CLARION CALL, THE MUTED TRUMPET, THE LASTING IMPACT: GAY RIGHTS KEVAN M. YENERALL

And finally, we have to find a way to live together better . . . . People still . . . define themselves in very primitive ways – they’re scared of people who are different from them – different race, different religion, different ethnic group. Some are gay, some are straight . . . . The number one challenge this country faces is building one America across all the lines that divide us.1 – Bill Clinton, Coral Gables, Florida, 11 December 1999

I think that the real problem . . . is the absence of open, personal contact . . . I think there are too many people who don’t know gay men and lesbian women in the ordinary course of their lives . . . my judgment is, it’s not a lifestyle people choose. It is the way people are.2 – Bill Clinton, Larry King Live, 22 December 1999

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Introduction: Clinton in the Age of Obama In August 2009, former president Bill Clinton was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to give the keynote address on the opening night of the Netroots Nation conference – an annual gathering of the activist intelligentsia and progressive regions of the Blogosphere. Speaking to some 1,800 at the David Lawrence Convention Center, the former president discussed the online community’s vital role in furthering civic engagement and grassroots political mobilization, as well as the political and policy dimensions of the ongoing health care debate. Then, roughly 15 minutes into his well-received address, Clinton was heckled for the 1993 ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ (DADT) policy crafted and implemented in his administration, as well as signing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 legislation that, for the first time, established the federal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, and also shielded states from having to recognize same-sex unions – and any requisite legal benefits – consecrated in other states. The law had been pushed aggressively by the conservative Republican majority in Congress, and with the eventual vote of many Democrats in an election year – including prominent left-of-centre US Representatives such as Charles Schumer and Dick Durbin – it received Clinton’s signature. Clinton was not pleased with the confrontational outburst and responded, ‘You know, you ought to go to one of those congressional health care meetings’ – a reference to the boisterous, frequently disruptive anti-Obama administration health care initiative ‘tea party’ protests then taking place at a number of legislators’ town hall meetings. The former president suggested that signing DOMA was a tactic used to keep an activist conservative Congress at bay, a move to frustrate their larger legislative designs of passing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Clinton was convinced the Republican-led Congress was headed down a much more injurious route for gay men and women, and thus justified his signing of the controversial act as an attempt to thwart far more discriminatory measures. In other words, it was not that he liked the bill, but that it was better than the alternatives.

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In recent years, however, Clinton, like President Barack Obama and nearly all Democratic presidential aspirants in the 2004 and 2008 cycles, called for repealing DOMA, and in 2009 Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) readied legislation that aimed to repeal significant parts of the 1996 law.3 Concerning DADT, Clinton reminded the audience that in 1993 he did not have the luxury of sufficient legislative or military support to end completely the ban on gay men and women serving in the armed forces. He then proceeded to review the very different cultural and political milieu of 1993, when he sought to keep an explicit campaign promise and end the ban on gays in the military wholesale – but was rebuffed by the military leadership and stymied by a veto-proof majority in Congress. ‘I did everything I could,’ said Clinton of his work to advance gay rights as president. He added with more than a hint of anger that in 1993 and 1996 he possessed neither the political nor public support to avoid his run-ins with DOMA and DADT.4 He chided the hostile member of the audience for not doing the hard work to get more progressive Democrats elected to Congress, thus leaving him without the necessary institutional and political support to codify antidiscrimination policies. The America of 2009 was in a ‘different place,’ he asserted – but that was not the America he faced as he attempted to govern and advance equality. Rather than directing anger at him, said Clinton, they – liberal advocates for equality – should have been putting more pressure on Congress to support his anti-discriminatory measures.5 What was not explicitly mentioned by Clinton during this lively exchange was that DOMA was signed in the heat of an election year – namely, his re-election, in 1996. Nor did he mention that beyond using his signing of the bill to thwart the more ominous constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, he was also skilfully insulating himself from a barrage of culture war-era attacks, reaping short-term political and electoral benefits. Yet, while he undoubtedly engaged in a degree of political expediency in an election year and signed legislation seemingly antithetical to his otherwise consistent and eloquent rhetoric concerning equal treatment under the law, Clinton’s perceptive point about the lack of

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political and institutional support is accurate, and even some of the strongest supporters of gay rights felt that caving on DOMA in an election year may have been a necessary and practical manoeuvre. The legislation was an odious measure indeed – but far preferable, or temporarily tolerable, to supporters of gay and lesbian equality than the very real and ominous possibility of a constitutional amendment that would leave no room for states to adopt civil unions or same-sex marriage laws. As American political history suggests that repealing a constitutional amendment is nearly impossible, a constitutional ban on gay marriage would, in all likelihood, present a permanent impediment to equality for gay Americans. A process usually reserved for expanding equality would instead become an instrument for discrimination. The exchange between Clinton and the Netroots convention heckler in 2009 illustrates the at-times complicated, tense relationship between advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality and an American president who, while he did more than any previous president in history to address and advance gay rights, was constrained by the various political, cultural and institutional realities of a largely conservative age, and so employed tactics and reached compromises for political and policy survival that disappointed supporters and frustrated the march for gay and lesbian rights. Yet, at the time of this essay’s completion, continued progress, not the least of which was the historic vote to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ in May 2010 in the House of Representatives, backed by Obama, further highlights Bill Clinton’s vital role in preparing the country for advances in equality.6 How did Bill Clinton address gay rights as president? Was he an activist leader? Did he prepare, enact, or consolidate policies that advanced equality for gay Americans? What lasting impact did his leadership – rhetorical, substantive and symbolic – in this realm of social and cultural policy have on future presidencies and policies? This chapter will address the range of executive actions taken by Bill Clinton in the area of gay rights. On the whole, the evidence suggests that the Clinton administration was an indispensable, substantive vehicle for advancing gay rights, a crucial presidential cog in the evolving machine of progress for gay and lesbian Americans, even with numerous policy setbacks

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during his tenure. The emerging achievements and potential progress of the Obama presidency in the area of gay rights would not have been possible without the attitudinal and generational shifts that have helped facilitate change. But also essential to these gains is what can be viewed as the preparatory presidency of Bill Clinton. His adept and consistent use of executive action – both symbolic and substantive – to advance the cause of gay rights is crucial to understanding the progress made in the Obama era: Clinton’s push for a repeal of the ban on gays in the military; an end to workplace discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation; a hate crimes bill that included real or perceived sexual orientation; and the strategic use of executive orders, proclamations, nominations, and speeches reveal an array of inspirational rhetoric and pragmatic actions that formed a vital foundation for Obama’s equality agenda.

The Age of Obama: Presidential Leadership, Policy Progress During his 2008 race for the White House, Barack Obama, like the rest of the Democratic field, asserted his belief that the Clinton-era compromise, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, should be repealed. In the latter portion of his 27 January 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama told the nation: ‘This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.’7 Shortly after this statement, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified before Congress, announcing his support for the Obama administration’s intent to repeal DADT. A year-long policy implementation review panel would consider unique issues facing each branch of the military and make recommendations upon completion of the study. By the winter of 2009–10, several major military figures agreed with repealing the ban entirely. Former Clinton Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili, now favoured ending DADT, as did Obama’s Chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, who made an unequivocal statement to this effect to the Senate Armed Services Committee.8

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While caution and resistance remained in some quarters more than others, especially the Marines and the Army, this was certainly not 1993, when then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, opposed Bill Clinton’s plan to repeal the ban on gays in the military. Testifying before Congress and speaking in favour of repealing the longstanding ban on gays in the military, Mullen stated: Speaking for myself, and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.9 Meanwhile, as the year-long policy review commenced, Gates announced immediate steps that would be taken to minimize the negative impact of the existing DADT law on gays and lesbians in the armed forces by limiting the kinds of anonymous and third-party reports often used to out, and thus discharge, gay members of the military. Specifically, under the new guidelines established, military investigators would, according to the Washington Post, ‘generally ignore anonymous complaints and make those who file them give statements under oath. In addition, only high-ranking officers – the equivalent of a one-star general or admiral – will have the authority to open inquiries or to decide whether a discharge is warranted.’10 The Obama administration introduced or endorsed other policies on behalf of gay rights. In October 2009, with surviving members of the Shepard and Byrd families in the East Room of the White House, Obama signed into law a bill with provisions that Bill Clinton had vigorously advocated as president: The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The legislation – named after a gay man, Matthew Shepard, who was murdered near Laramie, Wyoming, and James Byrd, Jr., an African American man who was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas – revised existing legislation to add federal protections against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation.11 Both men had been killed in 1998.

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On 15 April 2010 Obama issued a presidential memorandum to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) ‘Respecting the Rights of Hospital Patients to Receive Visitors and to Designate Surrogate Decision Makers for Medical Emergencies,’ which ordered hospitals to give same-sex couples the right to be with a sick or dying partner.12 Asserting that ‘every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides,’ Obama directed HHS to: Initiate appropriate rulemaking . . . to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. It should be made clear that designated visitors . . . should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.13 The memorandum sought to ensure that all hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid (almost all of those in the country) would be in full compliance with the new regulations ‘promulgated to guarantee that all patients’ advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, are respected, and that patients’ representatives otherwise have the right to make informed decisions regarding patients’ care.’14 Finally, the memorandum ordered HHS to provide, within 180 days, reports on ‘actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decision-making, or other health care issues that affect LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) patients and their families.’15 In the first half of Obama’s term, the president was providing leadership in pragmatic fashion, buoyed by more hospitable circumstances, politically and culturally. He had signed into law policies and provisions first advocated by Bill Clinton. The move to advance equality under the law for all, regardless of sexual orientation, also involved tactical considerations, as the Obama administration actually defended DOMA in a legal brief seeking to dismiss a challenge to the law, later

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toning down the full force of its defence after ideological allies in the gay rights movement and beyond expressed their displeasure.16 The Obama administration’s position on its legal brief was that they would defend any existing law, even as they wanted to overturn DOMA. Yet the fact that a president was taking any substantive action to advance gay rights – and the fact that he was making progress, and that the political and policy grounds were more fertile and manageable – was also due, in part, to the agenda promulgated by Clinton in the 1990s.

Bill Clinton’s Clarion Call: Gay Rights as Civil Rights Accepting his party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in 1992, Bill Clinton became the first nominee of either major political party to address unequivocally the equal treatment of gay Americans as a matter essential to national unity. He spoke of the divisions in American society, and the need to unite and ‘look beyond stereotypes’: Tonight, every one of you knows deep in your heart that we are too divided. It is time to heal America. And so we must say to every American: Look beyond the stereotypes that blind us. We need each other – all of us – we need each other. We don’t have a person to waste, and yet for too long politicians have told the most of us that are doing all right that what’s really wrong with America is the rest of us – “them.” Them – the minorities. Them – the liberals. Them – the poor. Them – the homeless. Them – the people with disabilities. Them – the gays. We’ve gotten to where we’ve nearly “them’ed” ourselves to death: Them, and them, and them. But, this is America. There is no “them.” There is only “us.”17 As a candidate, president and in his post-presidential years, Clinton used rhetoric to expand the canvas of civil rights so as to include gay rights.

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Throughout the 1992 campaign, the then-Arkansas governor reminded gay Americans that he had a vision for the country, and that ‘they were part of it.’ He promised to end the ban on gays in the military. Thus it should not be surprising that, even as the economy dominated his first presidential campaign and much of his first year in office, he sought to make good on this gay rights pledge. Indeed, on 8 November 1997, Clinton became the first sitting US president to address a gay rights organization in person, giving the keynote address at a black tie gala in honour of the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) first national dinner.18 Shaping public opinion and enshrining equality under the law are not easy tasks for presidents; and so harnessing rhetorical and symbolic tools to engage in education and outreach to prepare the nation for change is vitally important. The following section explores how Clinton attempted to promote gay rights, employing a wide range of executive actions at his disposal to frame his agenda.

Celebrating Diversity, Promoting Gay Rights: White House Conferences, Legislation and Appointments Clinton frequently voiced his support for hate crimes legislation that included sexual orientation – in addition to race, colour and religion. He first announced his intention to seek expanded federal authority over crimes based on sexual orientation during the 1997 White House Conference on Hate Crimes. There, Clinton endorsed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) aimed at achieving such a policy result. Moreover, in 1998 and 1999, in the aftermath of the shocking slayings of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd,19 amongst others, Clinton championed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), legislation that had two main objectives: extending current hate crimes protection to include gender, disability and sexual orientation and providing federal assistance, when necessary, to state and local authorities in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. In addition to prominent LGBT groups, the White House, and key members of the Senate, the HCPA had the support of 22 state attorneys general, the US Conference of Mayors and other notable groups.

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While the majority of liberal advocacy groups supported the HCPA and viewed it as vital – hence the 200-plus co-sponsors and even limited bipartisan support in the 105th Congress – others argued that it would or at least could be rather limited in its utility. The Hate Crimes Statistics Act, passed in 1990, already required that the FBI collect data on anti-homosexual violence. Not surprisingly, many principled conservatives argued that sexual orientation should not be equated with race, religion or national origin. Even some progressives in the Clinton era took a cautious approach to HCPA, asserting that while it was important symbolically, it put misplaced faith in state and local law enforcement – as statistics indicated that state and local police were not only often reluctant to report violence aimed at homosexuals, but had increasingly engaged in the verbal harassment and physical abuse of gay and bisexual individuals.20 Nonetheless, even with this opposition and caution in some quarters, overt and enthusiastic presidential support for this hate crime legislation was a significant step in expanding America’s commitment to equal protection and civil rights. Moreover, supporters of HCPA would counter that one of the main goals of the legislation – expanding federal authority over such hate crimes – might very well aid in minimizing lax and apathetic enforcement of such crimes at the state and local level. Reminding the public that ‘It has been a year since the murder of Matthew Shepard, and two years since I first proposed to strengthen the nation’s hate crime laws,’ Clinton called on Congress on 13 October 1999 to act immediately on the Senate’s version of HCPA.21 Similarly, he expressed his steadfast support for HCPA during his keynote address at the Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality Dinner in Beverly Hills, California, and in other speeches.22 Clinton’s leadership on this issue partially coincided with the energetic efforts of the HRC, the nation’s largest lesbian and gay lobby, whose leaders announced at a press conference that they would commence an advertising campaign in the Washington, DC area aimed at swaying public opinion. Criticizing the GOP leadership for attempting to remove the HCPA from the pending Commerce, State, and Justice appropriations bill, HRC President Elizabeth Birch

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referred to a February 1999 Gallup Poll showing that 70 per cent of Americans favoured tougher hate crime laws.23 Two weeks earlier, the HRC had begun a more visible lobbying effort by unveiling two 30-second public service television spots – featuring Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard – aimed at promoting understanding of gay issues and of the need to curb anti-gay violence.24 Clinton continued pushing for the legislation at a Kennedy-King Dinner in Alexandria, Virginia, on 22 October 1999. In addition to citing the Shepard and Byrd tragedies, Clinton discussed the recent murders of a Filipino postal worker in Los Angeles and a Korean Christian in the Midwest.25 Yet it was too late: on 18 October, the Republican leadership had allowed the HCPA to be removed from the Commerce, State, and Justice bill, effectively dashing any hopes that hate crimes legislation would be considered in 1999.26 The one-two-three punch of grassroots lobbying, HRC ads and Clinton’s bully pulpit leadership had not proved effective. Presidential appointment power has long been an executive tool wielded in order to help govern and solidify political support. Presidents routinely use key appointments to advance their policy agenda, reflect their values and especially to reward individuals and core constituencies. In the realm of ambassadorial positions, history has shown that appointees may include personal friends, major campaign contributors and even celebrities – as was the case when President Richard Nixon famously nominated Shirley Temple Black for an ambassadorship. On 6 October 1997, Clinton nominated a prominent openly gay man, James Hormel, to be United States Ambassador to Luxembourg.27 Heir to the fortunes of the Hormel meat company and a former Dean of the Chicago University School of Law, Hormel had been a pervasive force on civic and non-profit boards. Most recently, Hormel had completed his term as Alternate Representative of the US Delegation to the 51st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and was also a member of the US Delegation to the 51st UN Human Rights Commission, which convened in Geneva in 1995. While support for the Hormel nomination in the gay community was rampant, and while there were the necessary votes to confirm Hormel in the Senate,

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evangelical Christian interest groups such as the Family Resource Council and Christian Coalition, along with key Republican senators, stymied the confirmation process. Senator James Inhofe (R-NE) took exception to Clinton naming an openly gay individual to represent the United States – an individual who, critics contended, had lengthy associations with gay activist groups and would promote the acceptance of homosexuality. Given the ideological barriers hindering his confirmation, Clinton re-nominated Hormel at the commencement of the 106th Congress on 6 January 1999. Finally, five months later, Clinton circumvented the conservative hostility to Hormel by naming him as a recess appointment.28 Though the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), first introduced by Edward Kennedy on 23 June 1994, had a rather precarious history on Capitol Hill, Clinton pushed hard for the legislation’s passage. In 1996 ENDA was a mere one vote shy of passing in the Senate. On 24 April 1997 Clinton again advocated expeditious passage of ENDA and responded to criticisms of the legislation: Discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation is currently legal in 41 states. Most Americans don’t know that men and women in those states may be fired from their jobs solely because of their sexual orientation, even when it has no bearing on their job performance. Those who face this kind of job discrimination have no legal recourse, in either our state or federal courts. This is wrong. Individuals should not be denied a job on the basis of something that has no relationship to their ability to perform their work. Sadly, as the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee has documented during hearings held in the last Congress, this kind of job discrimination is not rare . . . . As I indicated when I originally announced my support of this legislation in October of 1995, the bill in its current form appears to answer all the legitimate objections previously raised against it, while ensuring that Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation, can find and keep their jobs based on their ability and the quality of their

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work. It is designed to protect the rights of all Americans to participate in the job market without fear of unfair discrimination. I support it and I urge all Americans to do so. And I urge Congress to pass it expeditiously.29 Giving the keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign Dinner on 8 November 1997, Clinton again reaffirmed his support for ENDA: To be sure, no President can grant rights. Our ideals and our history hold that they are inalienable, embedded in our Constitution, amplified over time by our courts and legislature. I cannot grant them – but I am bound by my oath of office and the burden of history to reaffirm them. All America loses if we let prejudice and discrimination stifle the hopes or deny the potential of a single American. All America loses when any person is denied or forced out of a job because of sexual orientation. Being gay, the last time I thought about it, seemed to have nothing to do with the ability to read a balance book, fix a broken bone, or change a spark plug. For generations, the American Dream has represented a fundamental compact among our people. If you take responsibility and work hard, you have the right to achieve a better life for yourself and a better future for your family. Equal opportunity for all, special privileges for none – a fate shared by Americans regardless of political views. We believe – or we all say we believe – that all citizens should have the chance to rise as far as their God-given talents will take them. What counts is energy and honesty and talent. No arbitrary distinctions should bar the way. So when we deny opportunity because of ancestry or religion, race or gender, disability or sexual orientation, we break the compact. It is wrong. And it should be illegal. Once again I call upon Congress to honor our most cherished principles and make the Employment Non-Discrimination Act the law of the land.30

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Despite the presidential push, ENDA remained stalled on Capitol Hill. Roughly two weeks after Clinton issued a proclamation naming June 1999 ‘Gay and Lesbian Pride Month’, PBS aired the documentary ‘After Stonewall’, a chronicling of the gay and lesbian movement in the three decades since the landmark riot in New York that triggered gay activism across the United States. A follow-up to the acclaimed 1984 documentary ‘Before Stonewall’, the 90-minute film was narrated by musician Melissa Etheridge, and devoted considerable coverage to AIDS, gay marriage, political victories and defeats, and featured interviews with prominent public officials such as Rep. Barney Frank, California Assemblywoman Sheila James Kuehl, New York City Council member Phil Reed and long-time activist and Clinton friend David Mixner.31 The following day, members of the House and Senate re-introduced the Employment and Non-Discrimination Act. Reiterating his support for ENDA – and his intention to harness the resources of the bully pulpit to promote its passage – Clinton offered these words via an official presidential statement: Today, Members of the House and Senate will re-introduce, on a bipartisan basis, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (‘ENDA’). This important civil rights legislation would extend basic employment discrimination protections to gay and lesbian Americans. I strongly support this bill, and we will work hard for its passage. Americans instinctively believe in fairness. They believe that individuals should not be denied a job on the basis of something that has no relationship to their ability to perform their work . . . . Last year, I issued an executive order making permanent a longstanding federal policy against discrimination based on sexual orientation in the civilian federal workplace. I hope that Congress will make that policy a national one by passing this important legislation.32 Ultimately, despite Clinton’s support, ENDA did not pass during his presidency – but this failure was not due to a lack of effort. Radio

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addresses, fundraisers, official statements, keynote speeches, press conferences and television interviews did not have the desired effect. As his second term eased into its final year, resuscitating ENDA appeared to be a Herculean task. Facing a recalcitrant and emboldened Republican Congress, heightened partisan rancour and legitimate policy differences with the congressional leadership, ENDA’s passage proved elusive.

Executive Orders On 28 May 1998 Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13087, amending the Equal Employment Opportunity provision in Federal Government Executive Order 11478, which prohibited discrimination in the federal civilian workforce based on race, religion, sex, national origin, handicap or age. Clinton’s amendment added sexual orientation to the aforementioned categories, providing a uniform policy prohibiting discrimination. Previously, most agencies and departments had issued policy memoranda or directives to achieve similar results, but Clinton’s executive order officially mandated a uniform policy across all agencies and departments. Upon the issuance of Executive Order 13087, the US Government became the largest employer in the world with a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation.33 The immediate response from the Republican leadership in the House, as well as organizations such as the Family Research Council, was highly critical. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) was the first congressional leader to condemn the executive action.34 Yet with Clinton working with representatives from both parties, a congressional attempt to overturn the president’s policy – spearheaded by Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) – was defeated in the House, illustrating that the president possessed the political clout and skill needed to avert this potential policy loss in the realm of gay rights. Upon defeat of the Hefley amendment, Clinton declared: The vote reflected the values of our nation . . . . The Hefley amendment would have legitimized government sponsored discrimination against its own citizens based on sexual orientation . . . . The

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Executive Order reflects this Administration’s firm commitment that the federal government make employment related decisions in the civilian workforce based on individual ability and not on sexual orientation.35 At the same time, however, the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation outlined in the executive action did not – and could not by itself – create ‘new enforcement rights (such as the ability to proceed before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).’ Such rights would have to be granted by Congress. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, if passed in its 1998 form, would have provided such remedial recourse – and would have included the non-federal workplace.36 Clinton had also worked to eliminate discrimination in the executive workforce by issuing an executive order ‘mandating that security clearances no longer be denied based on sexual orientation.’37 And while ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was not being implemented as his administration had hoped it would, with an increase in the discharge of gay and lesbian veterans, Clinton continued to chip away at discriminatory policies in the military in other ways. For example, Clinton amended the Manual for Courts-Martial, which outlines procedures for criminal trials in the armed forces, via Executive Order 13140. After consultation with a committee of experts from all branches of the military, Clinton took action on 7 October 1999 to adopt the committee’s recommendations and – in the president’s vernacular – ‘modernize the rules of evidence that apply to courts-martial proceedings and to take into account recent court decisions.’38 Clinton amended the Manual for Courts-Martial in various ways, including the insertion of a provision stipulating that: evidence that a violent crime was a hate crime may be presented to the sentencing authority as an aggravating factor in the determination of the appropriate sentence . . . . In particular, the rules provide that the sentencing authority may consider whether the offense was motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation.39

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Proclamations On 11 June 1999 Clinton issued a proclamation naming June 1999 as ‘Gay and Lesbian Pride Month’. The presidential proclamation encouraged all Americans ‘to observe this month with the appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity, and to remember throughout the year the gay and lesbian Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life.’40 Citing the Stonewall riots of June 1969 and the National Park Service’s adding of the Stonewall Inn to the Register of Historic Places, Clinton reiterated his administration’s attempts to dismantle discrimination based on sexual orientation: I am proud of the measures my Administration has taken to end discrimination against gays and lesbians and ensure that they have the same rights guaranteed to their fellow Americans. Last year, I signed an Executive order that amends Federal equal employment opportunity policy to prohibit discrimination in the Federal civilian work force based on sexual orientation. We have also banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in the granting of security clearances. As a result of these and other policies, gay and lesbian Americans serve openly and proudly throughout the Federal Government. My Administration is also working with congressional leaders to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit most private employers from firing workers solely because of their sexual orientation. America’s diversity is our greatest strength. But, while we have come a long way on our journey toward tolerance, understanding, and mutual respect, we still have a long way to go in our efforts to end discrimination . . . . In 1997, the most recent year for which we have statistics, there were more than 8,000 reported hate crimes in our country – almost one an hour. Now is the time for us to take strong and decisive action to end all hate crimes, and I reaffirm my pledge to work with the Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

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In addition, Clinton used the occasion to revisit the theme of ‘repairer of the breach’, articulated in his second Inaugural Address, by arguing that the pursuit of legislation was not the sole cure for leaping over the hurdles of discrimination: ‘But we cannot achieve true tolerance merely through legislation; we must change hearts and minds as well. Our greatest hope for a just society is to teach our children to respect one another, to appreciate our differences, and to recognize the fundamental values that we hold in common.’ At the same time, Clinton outlined partnerships between the Departments of Education and Justice, as well as educational and private organizations, to thwart harassment based on sexual orientation: As part of our efforts to achieve this goal, earlier this spring, I announced that the Departments of Justice and Education will work in partnership with educational and other private sector organizations to reach out to students and teach them that our diversity is a gift. In addition, the Department of Education has issued landmark guidance that explains Federal standards against sexual harassment and prohibits sexual harassment of all students regardless of their sexual orientation; and I have ordered the Education Department’s civil rights office to step up its enforcement of anti-discrimination and harassment rules. That effort has resulted in a groundbreaking guide that provides practical guidance to school administrators and teachers for developing a comprehensive approach to protecting all students, including gays and lesbians, from harassment and violence.41 In addition to issuing proclamations and using the bully pulpit to urge legislative action and societal cognizance of our common humanity, the Clinton administration, via White House spokesman Mike McCurry, engaged in verbal combat with political opponents. In the summer of 1998, when Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) argued on The Armstrong Williams Show that homosexuality was a sin and that it should be treated ‘just like alcohol . . . or sex addiction . . . or kleptomania,’42 McCurry used the following day’s ‘gaggle’ 43 – the

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daily briefing of the White House press corps – to chastise Lott’s characterization of homosexuality: For over 25 years, it’s been quite clear that sexual orientation is not an affliction, it is not a disease, it is something that is a part of defining one’s sexuality. And the fact that the majority leader has such views, apparently consistent with some who are fairly extreme in his party, is an indication of how difficult it is to do rational work in Washington.44 Lott’s spokeswoman immediately fired back at McCurry and the White House, but not before progressives in the Senate, such as Paul Wellstone (D-MN), used the Lott-McCurry flap to push for a vote on the then-stalled ambassadorial nomination of James Hormel. Of the Republican opposition to the gay philanthropist, McCurry questioned what reason opponents would have for blocking Hormel ‘other than the prejudice that exists in their minds against people who are gay and lesbian.’45 Also indicating the importance attached to gay and lesbian issues by Clinton and his advisers was a fact sheet released and promoted by the White House in October 1998: ‘The Clinton-Gore Administration: A Record of Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans.’46 The press release covered an array of executive and legislative actions taken to advance gay rights in the United States.

Campaigning Ends, Governing Begins: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Compromise While the aforementioned cornucopia of rhetorical and executive action shows a president willing to spend some political capital and press for priorities in the arena of gay rights, there were also defeats, compromises, and election-year opportunism that muted Clinton’s clarion call for equality. The biggest disappointment in this respect in his first term was the failure to repeal fully the military’s ban on gay men and women serving openly in the armed forces, as he had promised on the campaign trail in 1992.

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Brokered in 1993 and coming into effect in November 1994, the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ compromise legislation had two key provisions: one, that military personnel were not supposed to be questioned about their sexual preference; and two, that military personnel still could not engage in homosexual activity or openly acknowledge their sexual orientation. Thus, the military’s formal prohibition of homosexual contacts – embodied in the Uniform Code of Military Justice – was largely kept intact. Moreover, passage of the legislation effectively codified the new policy towards gays and lesbians in the military, and any future desire to alter DADT would require an act of Congress. Previously, the president, via an executive order, could have integrated homosexuals into the armed forces – much like Harry Truman had used an executive order to bring about the desegregation of the armed forces in 1948. But facing a Congress with a veto-proof majority ready to overturn any order, lacking popular support, facing unanimous opposition from the top military brass and pummelled by right-wing activism in the early months of his presidency, Clinton opted for the compromise, believing that what appeared to be a sensible policy aimed at stopping unwarranted witch hunts unrelated to military performance would be an incremental step towards an eventual repeal of the ban. While perhaps saving some political capital with key senators on both sides of the aisle and the military establishment early in his first term, the compromise clearly did not achieve what Clinton, as a candidate in 1992, had advocated: completely overturning the military’s ban on homosexuals. In the early weeks of his term in 1993, the Senate rejected, 68–32, Clinton’s preferred gays-in-the-military policy, and key Senate leaders – including Sam Nunn (D-GA), John McCain (R-AZ) and Strom Thurmond (R-SC) – vowed to overturn any change in the military’s ban by overwhelming majorities. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, led by Chairman Colin Powell, expressed rock-solid opposition to ending the ban on gays in the military, arguing that such a policy would weaken morale and discipline, undermine recruiting, increase the risk of AIDS and force devoutly religious service members to resign.47 In the end, Clinton was left with a policy that disappointed many gay rights and civil rights advocates, and outraged close friends and supporters.48

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For insight into Clinton’s assessment of the politics, players and principles of the compromise legislation, consider this exchange with Larry King at the White House library six months into his term: Mr. King: . . . .Secretary of Defense Aspin appears with what looked like the entire military in the world before Senator Nunn’s committee, and Senator Nunn finishes by saying he still wants to go to Congress, but he’s inclined to support it. Is this a plus for you today? The President: I think it is a plus. The Joint Chiefs came a long way on this policy from where they were back in January when we talked. Mr. King: When they were almost totally against it, period. The President: Completely against changing it at all . . . . And I commend them. They really tried hard to come to grips with this. And they know that there are and always have been homosexuals in the service who served with real distinction. They and the Secretary of Defense deserve a lot of credit. But also, frankly, the people who argued for an even broader policy deserve a lot of credit – the Campaign for Military Service, Congressman Studds, Congressman Frank. They worked hard to try to come to grips with this. I don’t think anyone was fully satisfied with the result, but I believe it’s the best we can do right now. Mr. King: So in other words, you fulfilled your promise. The President: I did, except for the fact that we were not able to do precisely what I wanted, which was to give people the freedom to acknowledge their sexual orientation as long as they were following the rules of conduct. Today if you do that, it can get you in trouble, but you have the option to convince your commander that you really are following the rules. So I don’t think it goes quite as far as I wanted on statements. On the other hand, it goes quite a bit further to protect private conduct on the rules of investigation than I anticipated . . . .

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Mr. King: Do you think it will pass in the Senate? The President: I do. I think if I had done what I wanted to do, the Senate and the House would have reversed it.49 The impact of DADT was not what Clinton had envisioned: despite a compromise that was intended to reduce the discharge of gay troops, such discharges continued unabated, actually increasing during parts of Clinton’s two terms. From Clinton through George W. Bush (1993–2009), it is estimated that over 13,000 service members were discharged based on their homosexuality, including 428 in 2009, the last full year under the complete implementation of DADT.50 In 2010, presidential adviser David Gergen discussed the DADT compromise and the deliberations within the Clinton White House. Describing the final decision to go along with DADT as a very difficult one, he noted that the ‘half-a-loaf’ approach to equality was ultimately supported by all in the Clinton inner-circle – save for Vice President Al Gore, who believed that DADT was immoral and so urged Clinton not to compromise, and to repeal completely the ban on gays in the military. Recalling the politics, process, and policy, Gergen asserted: It was an agonizing evening at the White House . . . another late night with Bill Clinton. But he had campaigned . . . for lifting the prohibition against gays. And then just after he was elected, he said, in [an] answer to a press conference, that he did intend as – as president, to lift the ban. And – and all hell broke loose. So there was a period just after he was inaugurated, the Joint Chiefs came to see him in the White House and said don’t do this, Mr. President. They were unanimously against lifting the prohibition. And then members – the leaders of the Congress came. And . . . the president resolved that he wanted to find a compromise position. And that’s how ‘don’t ask/don’t tell’ evolved. He sent George Stephanopoulos, who was one of his most trusted aides, over to work with Les Aspin, the Defense secretary, and

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others to – to figure out what kind of compromise would work. And they came up with the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ which was a step forward for gays, but obviously was a compromise . . . .51 And I remember very distinctly . . . this late night with the president when he had to make his final call – was he going to do this or not? And we were sitting upstairs in the residence at the White House, a group of around 12 or 13 people, all the . . . top national security people, including Colin Powell, top White House aides, Mike McLarty, chief of staff. George Stephanopoulos was there . . . . And after a . . . heated discussion, the president said, OK, I want . . . your advice one by one by one. He went around in this circle. And I think there were about 12 of us . . . who all said, Mr. President, this isn’t perfect, but the military does not want you to lift this ban. This is a compromise. We think you should accept it. There was one vote the other way. And that was Vice President Al Gore, who spoke last and said, “Mr. President, I disagree with this. I think we should lift the ban against gays. I think – I do not like this compromise. I think it smacks of immorality. I don’t like it . . . . So . . . he was under . . . almost under unanimous pressure. But . . . Al Gore argued that case. He did it with great eloquence and . . . passion. And . . . I have to say, times are different today than they were then. A lot has changed since then.52 Given the passions and prognostications on both sides of the issue, and the fact that more gay and lesbian members of the military were discharged after DADT’s implementation in the 1990s, it is worth examining the controversial policy further. In August 1999, in the midst of allegations and reports of harassment – and the murder of a gay serviceman – the White House, Secretary of Defense William Cohen and the Pentagon announced updating the DADT guidelines to require troops to ‘undergo periodic training on tolerance and to

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assign the task of investigating alleged homosexual activity to senior officials.’53 In December, Cohen ordered the Pentagon’s Inspector General Donald Mancuso to investigate whether gays were being routinely harassed in the ranks. In response, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon, along with Mancuso, announced that they would, as part of the investigation, conduct ‘spot checks’ at unspecified military installations – over a 90-day period – to gauge whether a persistent ‘climate’ of harassment against gays existed. However, critics charged that, as of January 2000, the last year of the Clinton presidency, the Pentagon had yet to implement the promised anti-harassment training.54 Asked in a December 1999 interview with CBS news about criticisms of DADT by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, the president revealed that he was also convinced that the policy was not working and was not being applied as intended: what’s important is that the policy, as implemented, does not work as I announced it and as the leaders of our military at that time in ‘93 pledged to implement it. I can only hope that this last brutal death of a gay soldier will give some sobering impetus to a reexamination about how this policy is implemented and whether we can do a better job of fulfilling its original intent. Let me remind you that the original intent was that people would not be rooted out, that they would not be questioned out, that this would be focused on people’s conduct . . . 55 Returning to CNN where he had discussed the issue in detail early in his presidency, Clinton again highlighted the overwhelming congressional opposition he faced in the early months of his first term – ‘a veto-proof majority’ – that, he asserted, doomed his campaign pledge to end the military’s ban on homosexuals. Arguing that the ‘policy is better than the results,’ he cited the new guidelines issued in August 1999 and Pentagon investigations as proactive steps ‘to make sure people are trained and they understand they’re not supposed to go in and harass people.’ Clinton again made the case that the 1993 policy had not been implemented properly, and that it had been ‘often abused’ – resulting, in part, in the increased expulsions and harassment of gay

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military personnel in 1997–1998. Asked by the press about the debate on gays in the military in the 2000 presidential primaries, Clinton reiterated his position that the 1993 policy was ‘out of whack’ and was not being implemented as promised by military leaders. He again noted that, however imperfect its application, steps were being taken to try to rectify implementation. At the same time, he acknowledged that while he would work diligently with top military leaders to make sure that the existing policy was carried out fairly, any shift in the current policy would have to be addressed by Congress.56

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed by Bill Clinton on 30 September 1996, established for the first time a definition of marriage for federal purposes (the union of a man and woman), and asserted that states, despite the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution (Article IV), were not obligated to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. In the years following DOMA, states across the country continued to wrestle with the political and public policy ramifications of civil unions and gay marriage and the related matters of tax, medical, housing, and visitation rights and benefits, as well as debate the fundamental moral dimensions of the issue. After DOMA, additional states followed the federal government’s lead and enacted their own state versions of DOMA, defining marriage as between a man and a woman and forbidding recognition of out-of-state gay marriages. While congressional action and a presidential signature in an election year, 1996, did not invent the legal and moral debate over gay marriage and same-sex unions that took place in states across the country (consider the Hawaii case of Baehr v. Lewin, for instance, that inspired federal action in 1996), Clinton’s decision to sign DOMA arguably accelerated states’ consideration of the issue through their own constitutional mechanisms. As such, the federal DOMA stands as a significant inconsistency in an otherwise eloquent Clintonian narrative regarding equality under the law for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation.

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In the mid-late 1990s – aside from Vermont and a few progressive states – at the federal and state levels, institutional, electoral and political waters were working against the tide of gay marriage rights, and Clinton did not feel this was a current he, as chief executive, could successfully resist in an election year that many Republicans were using to focus on a panoply of social issues at the heart of the so-called ‘Culture War’. This, along with the fact that a potential federal amendment to ban gay marriage was looming on the horizon, no doubt influenced Clinton’s decision to sign DOMA. While federal law worked against equality in marriage rights, Clinton’s views were supportive of samesex civil unions. Asked by Larry King in the Cabinet Room of the White House whether he agreed with the Vermont Supreme Court decision ruling that gay couples were entitled to equal benefits via a civil union, Clinton responded in the affirmative: I do. I think that’s a good thing. That’s always been my position . . . . I think that – in terms of health care coverage at work or in terms of property or willing of property to your closest family member, that sort of thing, I think they ought to be able to do that.57 In terms of official gay marriage, however, Clinton held a slightly different view: Well, marriage in our culture and to me has a certain connotation, meaning . . . that has not gotten me to where I could accept that, because I think it’s basically a union for the purpose, among other things, of having children . . . so that’s why I’ve never supported the term marriage, although there are . . . increasing numbers of people, even in the clergy, who believe that they should be able to do that.58 As of 2010, five states (Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut) and the District of Columbia allow for gay marriage. In the 2008 presidential campaign, as in 2004, the Democratic ticket favoured civil unions but not gay marriage, while opposing a

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constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In California, a state supreme court decision led to the legalization of gay marriage while shortly thereafter, in the autumn of 2008, voters decided to amend the state constitution to overturn the court’s decision. By 2010, the state’s amendment banning gay marriage was under review in federal courts, with former Supreme Court rivals Ted Olson and David Boies, the lead attorneys for George W. Bush and Al Gore, respectively, in the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision, arguing that the California amendment was itself unconstitutional.

Gay Rights, Presidential Leadership and the Clinton Legacy ‘This is a different universe we’re living in . . . Although there have been disappointments with President Clinton, he’s really changed the landscape. He’s put gay issues on the radar screen of America.’59 So said Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the 20,000-member Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT lobby in the United States. An otherwise dynamic, innovative, historic presidential agenda aimed at advancing gay and lesbian equality featured a level of pragmatism and political expediency that, while perhaps necessary in the face of enormous institutional and political constraints, also paved the way for future state-federal showdowns and, in the case of DADT, a policy that inadvertently had negative, possibly nefarious, ramifications. Yet, as Elizabeth Birch articulates, taken as a whole, Clinton’s myriad efforts on behalf of gay rights are unquestionably unprecedented in the history of the presidency. And, examining the politics and possibilities of the Obama era, it is clear that the Clinton approach to gay rights, even with setbacks and disappointments, was vitally important in laying the foundation for future policy gains. By February 2010, as President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union address his intention to facilitate the repeal of DADT, much had changed. Pillars of the military establishment, who once fiercely opposed Clinton’s call for gays and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces, now favoured ending DADT. Most noticeably perhaps, General Colin Powell, formerly a Chairman of

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the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Clinton’s first term, and a leading figure in resisting Clinton’s drive to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, now called for the ending of the DADT experiment. As such, Powell became one of three current or former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs to argue against DADT. By the time Powell released a statement that ‘In the almost 17 years since the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,’ Obama’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, and former Clinton-era Chairman, General John Shalikashvili, had announced their support for ending DADT.60 Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee chaired by US Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) in February 2010, Adm. Mullen stated that ‘any implementation’ of Obama’s stated policy goals ‘must be carefully derived, sufficiently thorough, and thoughtfully executed.’61 Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), a longtime proponent of allowing gay servicemen and women to serve openly in the military, released a statement on 4 February 2010 lauding Bill Clinton’s indispensable leadership on this issue: I particularly welcome the long-overdue commitment by Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen to end discharges that in fact violate even the spirit of the unfair policy. President Clinton, in my judgment, deserves credit for trying to get this ban rescinded, and he has been unfairly criticized by those who do not realize that he tried and simply did not have the political force to succeed at that time.62 On 27 May 2010, via an amendment in a Defense appropriations bill and with the Obama administration’s support, the Democraticcontrolled House of Representatives voted to repeal the 1993 DADT policy by a vote of 234–194. The repeal would be contingent upon the Pentagon’s year-long policy implementation review due on 1 December 2010, which was designed to study the policy’s impact on troops, as well as President Obama’s final approval.63 Earlier that same day, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to repeal DADT, with the full Senate expected to follow suit in the coming months.

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In their classic political science text Presidents, Politics and Policy (1984), scholars Michael Nelson and Erwin Hargrove provided a model for analysing and appreciating the full extent of the political, cultural and constitutional dimensions of the presidency. In part, their work was a response to some of the analyses of the American presidency that had emerged after the Watergate years – texts that too often neglected cultural and political variables as legitimate and pervasive sources of presidential empowerment. In addition, some of these myopic approaches sought to provide one ‘formulation as sufficient for all time, thus failing to capture the range of historical possibilities’ that define, empower and limit presidents and their policy work.64 Asserting that the presidency is a ‘manifestation of our history, culture, and politics,’65 Hargrove and Nelson remind us that presidential success is, in part, rooted in a leader’s ability to understand historical context and the sense of what can or cannot be accomplished, to work within a particular historical cycle. Navigating through these eras, they write, demands a balanced skill set that includes adequate attention to strategy, presentation of self and ideas, tactical capacity and skill in operating within the political and historical cycle.66 The authors then evaluate presidents in terms of three historical cycles of politics and policy: presidents of preparation, achievement and consolidation. Applying this model of presidential analysis in the context of Bill Clinton’s leadership on gay rights strongly suggests that he was a consequential, indeed vital president of preparation, a chief executive whose words and deeds, with some notable exceptions linked to significant political and cultural constraints, stand as crucial leadership links in the chain of future presidential achievement. Why this classification? Presidents of preparation face substantial congressional opposition and a lack of electoral mandate, yet lay the groundwork for future legislation and policy implementation. In addition, successful presidents operating within this framework require rhetorical and political skills given the lack of popular, electoral and/ or congressional support. As Bill Clinton faced an ascendant, aggressive conservative Republican majority (1995–2001), was elected with roughly 43 per cent in 1992 in a three-way race with George H.W.

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Bush and H. Ross Perot, and did not achieve a majority in the popular vote in his 1996 re-election (he received roughly 49 per cent of the vote), he fits nearly exactly within the confines of the preparation cycle of presidential leadership. The cultural winds of the Reagan era still blew furiously during Clinton’s tenure, providing sizeable obstacles before the 1994 Republican congressional tsunami and the Lewinsky imbroglio of 1998–99 made matters even more difficult for the young president. While Clinton did not and likely could not achieve many of his policy preferences in the area of gay rights, he made substantial policy and rhetorical contributions, adroitly using executive orders, appointments, memoranda, proclamations and the bully pulpit to advance the cause, framing the issue of equality for gays and lesbians as both a moral and constitutional matter. In so doing, his leadership compares favourably with another effective preparatory president, John F. Kennedy, and his framing of civil rights for African Americans. Clinton’s historic, tactical and important ‘muddling through’ moments, combined with his orders, appointments and memoranda, are significant when gauging the trajectory of presidential approaches to gay rights. Even though he would never have the opportunity to sign the Employment NonDiscrimination Act and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes legislation, or repeal fully the ban on gays serving openly in the military – and though he signed the Defense of Marriage Act, a politically expedient measure – he planted the seeds for change while successfully implementing some policy preferences. Placing Clinton in the category of activist preparation – DOMA aside – is recognition that shepherding ideas, idealism and campaign promises through a fragmented political system is extraordinarily difficult, especially when it comes to controversial matters of cultural significance. These challenges are heightened by the often complex matrix of cultural and political forces facing presidents. The modern presidency suggests that, apart from the early years of the Reagan presidency and the post-9/11 years of the George W. Bush administration, widespread success in foreign policy is more likely than sustained domestic achievement. Moreover, many modern presidents have ended their tenures with lower approval ratings than when they were

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inaugurated, in part because second terms provide additional obstacles to major legislative breakthroughs. Clinton’s lasting impact in the realm of gay rights is the firm foundation that he laid for future presidents – specifically, Barack Obama. Just as one cannot get to the Promised Land of the landmark Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, signed by Lyndon Johnson, without the groundwork laid by John F. Kennedy, there is a direct connection between the policy advances of the Obama presidency and the foundation laid by Bill Clinton. While Clinton did not have, as Barney Frank astutely asserted in 2010, the ‘political force to succeed’ in ending the ban on gay men and women serving openly in uniform, he did advance the argument that the ban was morally, and constitutionally, wrong. Clearly no Republican president of Clinton’s time would have challenged the status quo in this policy area. Indeed, the Republican platforms of the Clinton era explicitly deemed homosexuality ‘incompatible’ with military service.67 Bill Clinton’s determined yet compromised leadership in the arena of human rights reflects positively on his character, often revealing a moral compass beneath his shifting political persona. As chief executive, he framed the issue of gay rights in a moral, constitutional manner that other recent presidents did not and would not, using the presidential tools at his disposal to challenge long-standing policies and make change where his predecessors dared not tread. Even with the aforementioned setbacks and calculations, Clinton’s presidency did more to advance the cause of dignity and justice for LGBT Americans than any previous president. Clinton’s fidelity to Third Way politics is also relevant to understanding his leadership and the compromises and lasting impact of his gay rights-as-civil rights agenda. Desiring not to be labelled as strictly left-wing, he shifted gears, accepted defeats and signed legislation deemed necessary for political survival, triangulating amidst ideological factions in a polarized political environment, ready to jettison temporarily some of the more progressive edges of his agenda in order to remain viable. And yet, his fundamental framing of equality, and his persistent efforts to advance civil rights through a variety of

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rhetorical and executive actions, have withstood the test of time, aiding in the agendas of future presidents, such as Barack Obama. What began with a clarion call for unity and equality in 1992 ended in compromise with DADT and a blatant election year calculation with DOMA. But ultimately the majority of Clinton’s rhetoric and executive actions – even as he engaged in political ju-jitsu with ascendant congressional Republicans to remain viable in a conservative era – reveal enlightened, indispensable presidential leadership that was essential for future policy gains. As he acknowledged at the Netroots Nation conference in 2009, ‘America has rapidly moved to a different place on a lot of these issues.’68 By advocating an alternative, expanded civil rights compact that included all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, and by using an array of constitutional and rhetorical tools at his disposal to advance this agenda, Bill Clinton played a constructive role in making his vision a future reality.

Notes 1.

White House Press Release, 11 December 1999, ‘Remarks by the President at Unity Reception.’ 2. WHPR, 23 December 1999, ‘Interview of the President by Larry King, for Larry King Live.’ 3. Ross, Eric, ‘New Bill Will be Introduced to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act’, Examiner.com, 5 September 2009: http://www.examiner. com/x-20225-SF-LGBT-Issues-Examiner~y2009m9d5-New-Bill-will-beintroduced-to-repeal-the-Defense-of-Marriage-Act. 4. Carpenter, Mackenzie and McNulty, Tim, ‘Clinton Gets to Root of Blogging at Netroots Conference’, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 14 August 2009: http:// www.postgazette.com/pg/09226/99077353.stm#ixzz0drI1vBiNhttp://www. post-gazette.com/pg/09226/990773–53.stm. 5. http://www.examiner.com/x-20225-SF-LGBT-Issues-Examiner~y2009m9d5New-Bill-will-be-introduced-to-repeal-the-Defense-of-Marriage-Act. 6. The US Senate, however, was another matter. In 2010, the Democraticcontrolled Senate attempted to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ by attaching an amendment to a defense appropriations bill. With united and filibusterproof Republican opposition, the legislative efforts to end DADT failed. After the 2010 US mid-term elections, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), with explicit support from Senate Armed Services Committee

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chair Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), vowed to once again bring a repeal vote to the floor of the Senate, this time in the so-called lame duck session before the end of the year. Yet Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, a key force leading the earlier filibuster, again signalled that he would like additional hearings regarding a Pentagon survey of active military members, and indicated he would once again oppose the repeal of DADT. Yet a leak of the Pentagon’s report indicated that over 70 per cent of active duty and reserve troops found that the effects of repealing DADT would be ‘positive, mixed or non-existent’; moreover, the leaked results of the Pentagon survey suggested that repealing DADT could be completed with only ‘minimal and isolated risks to the current war efforts’: O’Keefe, Ed and Jaffe, Greg, ‘Sources: Pentagon Group Finds There is Minimal Risk to Lifting Gay Ban During War’, Washington Post, 11 November 2010: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ article/2010/11/10/AR2010111007381.html?hpid=topnews; O’Keefe, Ed, ‘McCain Wants More Time Before the End of “Don’t Ask”’, Washington Post, 15 November 2010. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/ article/2010/11/14/AR2010111403631.html. ‘Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address’, 27 January 2010: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-state-unionaddress. Jones, Michael A., ‘Colin Powell Joins the Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Chorus’, 3 February 2010: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/colin_powell_ joins_the_repeal_dont_ask_dont_tell_chorus. Adm. Mullen’s testimony: see the transcript from CNN’s ‘The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer’, 2 February 2010: http://transcripts.cnn.com/ TRANSCRIPTS/1002/02/sitroom.01.html. Whitlock, Craig, ‘Pentagon Restricts Evidence That Can Be Used Against Gays in Military’, Washington Post, 26 March 2010: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/03/25/AR2010032500818.html. ‘Remarks by the President at Reception Commemorating the Enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act’, 28 October 2009: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-presidentreception-commemorating-enactment-matthew-shepard-and-james-byrd-. Shapiro, Ari, ‘Obama: Hospitals Must Grant Same-Sex Visitations’, NPR (17 April 2010): http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12603 4014. The text of the memorandum: http://media.npr.org/documents/2010/april/2010rightspatientsmemo. Presidential Memorandum: Hospital Visitation, 15 April 2010: http://www. whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-memorandum-hospital-visitation

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14. Presidential Memorandum, 15 April 2010. 15. Ibid. 16. Deutsch, Linda and Leff, Lisa, ‘Obama Admin Moves to Dismiss Defense of Marriage Act Challenge’, Huffington Post, 12 June 2009: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/12/obama-defends-antigay-def_n_214764.html. 17. Transcript and audio of Bill Clinton’s acceptance address at the 1992 DNC in New York: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/wjclinton1992dnc. htm. 18. Baker, Peter, ‘Clinton at Gay Rights Gala Will Be a Presidential First’, Washington Post, 8 November 1997, p. A1. 19. Shepard was enticed by two men at a bar, then savagely beaten with a gun and left to die on a fence to which he was tied. Byrd, a disabled man and divorced father of three, was tied to the back of a pick-up truck and dragged to his death in Jasper, Texas. 20. See Kim, Richard, ‘The Truth About Hate Crimes’, The Nation, 12 July 1999, p. 20. According to a 1998 report by the interest group National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, in terms of the harassment and physical abuse of homosexuals, ‘instances of verbal harassment and abuse by police officers increased by 155 percent from 1997 to 1998, and reports of physical abuse by police grew by more than 866 percent.’ 21. WHPR, 13 October 1999, ‘Statement by the President.’ 22. WHPR, 2 October 1999, ‘Remarks by the President at Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality Dinner.’ Clinton placed the string of recent hate crimes – James Byrd, Matthew Shepard, the Jewish children killed at a childcare centre and a Filipino postal worker murdered in California, among others – in the context of other acts of hatred, murder and tribal strife, from Bosnia to Northern Ireland to Kashmir to Kosovo. Lamented Clinton: Here we are on the verge of this great modern world, where we make movies with virtual reality now and virtual reality seems sometimes more real than what is real. And the biggest problem we’ve got is the primitive, age-old fear and hatred and dehumanization of the other people who aren’t like us. 23. ‘HRC Holds GOP Leadership Accountable for Reported Assault’, Human Rights Campaign Press Release, 14 October 1999: http://www.hrcusa.org/ hrc/hrcnews/1999/991014.html. 24. ‘Human Rights Campaign Foundation Launches New Public Service Television Campaign Featuring Mother of Matthew Shepard’, HRC Press Release, 9 September 1999: http://www.hrcusa.org/feature1/jspsa.html. 25. WHPR, 22 October 1999, ‘Remarks by the President at the Kennedy/King Dinner.’

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26. ‘Hate Crimes Bill Falls Victim to GOP Leadership’, HRC Press Release, 18 October 1999, Online: http://www.hrcusa.org/hrc/hrcnews/1999/991018.html. 27. WHPR, 6 October 1997, ‘President Clinton Names James C. Hormel as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.’ 28. WHPR, 4 June 1999, ‘President Clinton Names James C. Hormel As U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.’ 29. WHPR, 24 April 1997, ‘Statement by the President: Employment NonDiscrimination Act.’ 30. WHPR, 8 November 1997, ‘Remarks by the President at Human Rights Campaign Dinner.’ 31. Shales, Tom, ‘The Watershed of Gay Rights’, Washington Post, 23 June 1999, C1. 32. WHPR, 24 June 1999, ‘Statement by the President.’ 33. See WHPR, 28 May 1998, ‘Executive Order 13087: Further Amendment to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government’; WHPR, 28 May 1998, ‘Statement by the President’; WHPR, 29 October 1998, ‘The Clinton-Gore Administration: A Record of Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans.’ 34. Eilperin, Juliet, ‘House GOP Leaders Wary of Votes on Gay Issues’, Washington Post, 22 July 1998, A8. 35. WHPR, 6 August 1998, ‘Statement by the President.’ 36. WHPR, 28 May 1998, ‘Statement by the President.’ 37. WHPR, 29 October 1998, ‘The Clinton-Gore Administration: A Record of Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans.’ 38. WHPR, 7 October 1999, ‘Statement by the President.’ 39. WHPR, 7 October 1999, ‘Executive Order 13140: 1999 Amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States’; WHPR, 7 October 1999, ‘Statement by the President.’ The language of the hate crime-as-a-potentially-aggravating factor provision is taken from the president’s official statement. The provision re: aggravating factors is explicated in Executive Order 13140: Evidence in aggravation includes, but is not limited to, evidence of financial, psychological, and medical impact on or cost to any person or entity who was the victim of an offense committed by the accused and evidence of significant adverse impact on the mission, discipline, or efficiency of the command directly and immediately resulting from the accused’s offense. In addition, evidence in aggravation may include evidence that the accused intentionally selected any victim or any property as the object of the offense because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion,

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43.

44. 45.

46. 47.

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national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual preference of any person. WHPR, 11 June 1999, ‘Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.’ Ibid. ‘Lott: Gays Need Help “to Deal with That Problem”’, Washington Post, 16 June 1998, p. A6; ‘White House Faults Lott for Remarks About Gays’, Washington Post, 17 June 1998, p. A13. Asked by Williams if he believed homosexuality was a sin, Lott replied “yeah, it is.” Lott’s complete statement: ‘You should still love that person. You should not try to mistreat them or treat them as outcasts. You should try to show them a way to deal with that problem, just like alcohol . . . or sex addiction . . . or kleptomaniacs.’ ‘The Gaggle’ was White House Spokesman Mike McCurry’s term for the daily press briefing of the White House Press Corps. See Kurtz, Howard, Spin Cycle (New York: Touchstone, 1998). ‘White House Faults Lott for Remarks About Gays.’ Ibid. Trent Lott’s spokeswoman Susan Irby responded to McCurry’s comments with the following written statement: Mr. McCurry’s experience within this White House does not qualify him to tell the American people what is right and what is wrong. What he considers to be backward are the views and values of the great majority of Americans, who understand and are concerned abut the grave social and ethical questions our country faces. WHPR, 29 October 1998, ‘The Clinton-Gore Administration: A Record of Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans.’ Mixner, David, Stranger Among Friends (New York: Bantam, 1996). Re: Colin Powell’s vocal opposition to lifting the ban on gays in the military: see pp. 286–7. In a speech at the US Naval Academy, Powell argued that equating Truman’s 1948 executive order banning discrimination based on race with Clinton’s calls in 1992 and 1993 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation was incorrect. According to Powell, skin color is a ‘benign’ characteristic, while homosexuality ‘goes to one of the most fundamental aspects of human nature’. By 2010, Powell had changed his thinking on the ban as well as the DADT compromise. For a detailed insider’s view of the politics and process surrounding Clinton’s shift from advocating a complete ban on discrimination against homosexuals in the military via executive order, to accepting the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, see Mixner, Stranger Among Friends. Chapters 16–18 provide an excellent behind-the-scenes history of the debate leading up to the DADT

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49. 50. 51.

52. 53. 54. 55.

56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62.

63.

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compromise, as well as Mixner’s dramatically shifting working relations with Clinton aides Rahm Emanuel, George Stephanopoulos and James Carville. WHPR, 20 July 1993, ‘Remarks by the President on Larry King Live.’ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/25/ AR2010032500818.html. David Gergen’s comments: Transcript of ‘Situation with Wolf Blitzer’, CNN, 2 February, 2010: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1002/02/ sitroom.01.html. Ibid. Ross, Sonya, ‘Clinton: Military Gay Policy Doesn’t Work’, Washington Post, 12 December 1999, p. A26. Connoly, Ceci and Graham, Bradley, ‘Gore Vows New Policy on Gays in Military’, Washington Post, 14 December 1999, p. A1. WHPR, 13 December 1999, ‘Radio Interview of the President by CBS News.’ The interview transpired on 11 December 1999 at the Wyndham Palace Resort in Orlando, Florida. Clinton was in town to address the Florida Democratic Party. WHPR, 6 January 2000, ‘Remarks by the President and the First Lady to the White House Traveling Press.’ WHPR, 23 December 1999. Interview with Larry King on 22 December 1999. Ibid. Baker, Peter, ‘Clinton at Gay Rights Gala Will Be a Presidential First,’ Washington Post, 8 November 1997, p. A1. Powell, Shalikashvili, Mullen’s positions – see: http://gayrights.change.org/ blog/view/colin_powell_joins_the_repeal_ dont_ask_dont_tell_chorus. Admiral Mullen’s 2 February 2010 testimony before Congress: http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=dTmm73KkKuA. Barney Frank’s Statement on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, 4 February 2010: http:// www.house.gov/frank/pressreleases/2010/02–04-10-DADT-statement. html. Bacon, Jr., Perry and O’Keefe, Ed, ‘House Votes to End “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, Policy’, Washington Post, 28 May 2010: http://www.washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/27/AR2010052704540.html. Hargrove, Erwin C. and Nelson, Michael, Presidents, Politics and Policy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984), p. 270. Ibid, p. 272. Ibid, p. 272.

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67. Republican Party Platforms: see, for example, the American Presidency Project’s links to American political party platforms: http://www.presidency. ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=25848. 68. Ross, Eric, ‘New Bill Will be Introduced to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act,’ Examiner.com, 5 September 2009: http://www.examiner.com/x-20225SF-LGBT-Issues-Examiner~y2009m9d5-New-Bill-will-be-introduced-torepeal-the-Defense-of-Marriage-Act.

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6 THE CLINTON CHAR ACTER CONUNDRUM MICHAEL A. GENOVESE

Water that is too pure has no fish. – Zen Koen William Shakespeare’s opening to Richard III introduces the reader to the connection between character and governing. The play opens with Gloucester (Richard III) entering, and – as if conspiratorially enlisting us in his nefarious scheme – he turns to the audience and begins: Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this son of York; And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths; Our bruised arms hung up for monuments; Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings, Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. Grim-visaged war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front; And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds

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To fright the souls of fearful adversaries, He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber To the lascivious pleasing of a lute. But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks, Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass; I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty To strut before a wanton ambling nymph; I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion, Cheated of feature by dissembling nature, Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time Into this breathing world, scarce half made up, And that so lamely and unfashionable That dogs bark at me as I halt by them; Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace, Have no delight to pass away the time, Unless to spy my shadow in the sun And descant on mine own deformity: And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover, To entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain And hate the idle pleasures of these days. Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams, To set my brother Clarence and the king In deadly hate the one against the other: And if King Edward be as true and just As I am subtle, false and treacherous, This day should Clarence closely be mew’d up, About a prophecy, which says that ‘G’ Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be. Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here Clarence comes. Richard should be a happy man: his family has just defeated its enemy and assumed control of England. The crown is theirs. And yet, Richard laments the laying down of arms. Force now yields to the intrigues

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of court and more civilized rivalries. But Richard is ill-suited to the demands of this new competition. He is ‘not shaped’ for this new world, for he is ‘rudely stamp’d’ and ‘cheated of feature by dissembling nature, deformed, unfinish’d’, so much so that ‘dogs bark at me as I halt by them.’ His deformity precludes him from being a lover, so fate has made him a villain. Richard has a physical deformity, it is suggested, that impels him to a character deformity that leads in turn to his corrupt behaviour and destruction. The equation is quite simple: bad character equals bad behaviour. It makes artistic as well as intuitive sense. But is it so?

The Clinton Paradox William Jefferson Clinton remains an enigma, a paradox. He is a man of enormous political talent and intellectual acuity. He is a skilled politician and excellent communicator who has exhibited a wealth of emotional intelligence, empathy, energy and political judgement. And yet his time in the White House revealed he was also a man deeply flawed. His personal failings endangered his family life as well as his presidency. His high risk-taking – an affair with a young White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, to name but one transgression – led to his impeachment. Clinton was character challenged, yet was also an effective president. This raises several issues: can a ‘bad’ person be a good president? Is there a connection between character and leadership? Is there a connection between one’s private behaviour and one’s public activities? Does presidential character predict performance? Why have so many effective leaders been flawed people? The Clinton presidency provides a useful lens into these questions, and gives us an opportunity to explore issues of character and leadership. The literature in the field of leadership studies suggests that citizens must trust leaders1 if they are to follow them.2 Good character, scholars argue, is a predicate of good leadership. But is it? The Clinton presidency suggests otherwise. The public did not trust Clinton, but gave him high ratings for job performance.

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Likewise, leadership studies suggest that leaders, to be effective, must be ‘authentic’. But must they? Many leaders, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton among them, have created and re-created themselves in response to changing constituent demands. While we may admire the ‘I’d rather be right than President’ sentiment, most citizens seem to prefer effective leadership to authenticity and moral purity.3 In point of fact, the public wants contradictory, paradoxical things of their leaders: more services and lower taxes; a highly moral leader, who may at times have to deal in ‘the dark side’; a common man who is extraordinary. 4 It is only in this context that the Clinton presidency begins to make sense.

Clinton: The Man, the President Bill Clinton’s presidency remains the subject of much debate.5 Was he an effective president? A panderer? A devoted public servant? A selfish spoilt child? A fighter for the less fortunate? A self-centred rapscallion? Perhaps he was all these things, and more. He brought out the very worst in his adversaries as he sought to bring out the very best in the American people. Many of his alleged sins — a land deal (Whitewater) that occurred a decade before his presidency, travel office questions, FBI file issues and questions surrounding the suicide of Vince Foster – seemed to barely warrant the costs in time, distraction from the office and money caused by the official investigation into his life. It was only after Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr ‘trapped’ (some argue) Clinton into lying (under oath) about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky that the charges rose to a more serious level. Why (at least initially) so much over so little? Why and how did such secondary, even trivial, issues rise to such a high level of importance? Other presidents engaged in far more serious sexual and personal transgressions,6 and so why the focus on Clinton? How did the Clinton saga rise to both tragedy and farce? Theories abound. One view suggests that Clinton was deserving of impeachment and conviction because of his moral transgressions and because of the low moral example he set for the nation. A second

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view posits a partisan over-reaction by puritans and hypocrites whose ‘holier than thou’ attitudes of moral superiority encouraged an ideologically driven prosecutor to go on a witch hunt. A third explanation is that the Clinton episode was but one example of the ‘politics of scandal’ that periodically overwhelms American politics. After the war in Vietnam, Watergate and the Iran-Contra scandal, Clinton became a ready-and-easy target for scandal mongers.7 Fourthly, some of the politically oriented scandals may have been part of a growing ‘politics by other means’, whereby the criminalization of policy replaces elections as the arbiter of America’s adversarial political culture.8 Finally, the Clinton fiasco, perhaps, represents the growing ‘culture of mistrust’ that permeates US politics.9

The Accusations: Some Wild, Some Mild Looking back, it is hard to believe the sheer volume of allegations levelled against President Clinton. Via the internet, shock-radio disc jockeys and cable television, Clinton bashing became viral, a veritable cottage-industry of the political right. In many ways, Clinton was an irresistible target. His manifest indiscretions and sometimes comical self-defence served as a magnet for attacks from his political opponents. Not only was Clinton an attractive target, he was also a plausible target. He had engaged in enough questionable activities to make the wild, even unbelievable accusations seem somehow reasonable. And yet, even from the beginning some of the claims seemed either outlandish (for example, that Clinton had his friend Vince Foster killed, or was involved in a drug smuggling ring while governor of Arkansas) or not worth much attention (a long, expensive investigation into the Whitewater land deal from Clinton’s days as governor). Separating so much wheat from so much chaff can be difficult. Just which allegations had validity and which were preposterous? Clearly some of the accusations were substantive and dealt with matters of importance. An in-exhaustive yet illustrative list of some of the key accusations against Clinton may be of use (see Figure 1).

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Serious and Impacting on Governing

• •

163

Fundraising improprieties (e.g. ‘renting out’ the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House) Alleged perjury (in the Paula Jones case)

Serious yet of Personal / Private Nature

• Gennifer Flowers affair • Paula Corbin Jones’s accusations of harassment • Monica Lewinsky affair (while she was a White House intern)

Trivial yet Impacting on Governing

• • •

Absurd

• Drug deals while Governor • Vince Foster death

Whitewater land deal Travelgate Filegate

Figure 1 Categorizing the Accusations against President Clinton.

The mile-a-minute, rapid-fire bombardment of charges against Clinton led some to assume guilt (where there’s smoke, there’s fire), and others to become deaf and blind to the sheer volume of accusations which were too numerous to process. In the end, there were some serious charges based on sufficient evidence to call into question the ethical level of the Clinton presidency.10 It is hard to see those charges rising to the impeachable level, and there was a strong partisan tone to the assault against Clinton, and yet, there was a bit of fire amid all that blinding smoke.

A Discerning Public? Amid the plethora of theories, one may well ask: where is the public in all of this? Throughout the Clinton scandals the public backed the president, giving him surprisingly high marks for job performance. Polls suggest that the public made a distinction between the private and the public, and as long as Clinton supplied the public with ‘bread and circuses’ they were willing to support him. During the impeachment imbroglio, 80 per cent of the sample of voters reported that in judging the president one should focus on how

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the country is doing and on his policies, not his private life.11 And roughly two of three voters believed that ‘the President’s private life has nothing to do with his job.’12 Almost 60 per cent of those surveyed said that it was ‘possible for Clinton to be unethical in his personal life while maintaining integrity as president’.13 Evidently the public separates the private from the public sphere. This is not to say that the public endorsed the president’s private life. In June 1998, for example, a CNN-Time poll reported that while 63 per cent of those surveyed gave Clinton a favourable rating for being an effective president, only 33 per cent approved of his personal character, thus creating a 30 per cent ‘character gap’. Polling data indicate, therefore, that many people who liked Clinton’s presidency did not necessarily approve of his private life. As the editors of the April/May 1998 issue of The Public Perspective put it, ‘Lots Who Say They Approve Clinton’s Handling of the Presidency Don’t Approve of Clinton.’14 Those who voted for Clinton in 1992 and 1996 were aware Clinton was a flirt and possibly even a rogue. But those who generally identified with his domestic and foreign policy proposals made what amounted to a Faustian bargain. ‘We overlooked Mr. Clinton’s past indiscretions – he was hardly the first politician with testosterone overload,’ writes New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, ‘on the condition that he pursue his agenda and postpone his next dalliance until after he left the White House. But he broke the bargain. I knew he was a charming rogue with an appealing agenda, but I didn’t think he was a reckless idiot with an appealing agenda.’15

Character and Leadership Revisited Americans tell pollsters every four years they would like presidential candidates who are honest and who have good character. Yet character matters neither as much nor in the way many scholars have believed. In the case of Clinton, he had a reasonably effective presidency, and, despite his well publicized flaws, most Americans approved of the way he handled the job.

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There are several probable reasons why Clinton was not crucified on the cross of character. Firstly, most people most of the time, especially between presidential elections, are likely to judge a president more on the basis of the economy’s performance (stock market, inflation, unemployment, interest rates, economic growth, etc.) than on personal character traits. And the strong economy was Clinton’s best ally. Secondly, Clinton had the ironic good fortune of having Kenneth Starr as his legal nemesis. Starr repeatedly made blunders that allowed Clinton’s friends to question the fairness of Starr’s tactics. Thirdly, the American people, while caring about character and moral virtue, do not believe adultery should disqualify a political leader from holding office. There is a bit of a paradox here: Americans do not favour adultery, yet they are more tolerant than they used to be about leaders who have extramarital affairs. Moreover, they know that even people of good character are not perfect. All of our heroes have feet of clay. Fourthly, Clinton was a gifted politician. He ‘feels people’s pain,’ and he has an upbeat, positive, caring attitude about people, politics and his job. His political skills have allowed him to emphasize his policy agenda and his vision of America. Finally and clearly related to this last point, Clinton’s presidential efforts usually suggest a public morality or at least an arguable use of presidential power in favour of the common good. And this public morality, to the degree it is perceived as positive, effectively blunts some, though not all, of the criticism of Clinton’s personal character deficiencies. Many people believed Bill Clinton was on their side, working for them, and were thus forgiving concerning some of the president’s private flaws. One of the enduring paradoxes about the presidency is that many of those whom we believed to possess high levels of personal character (Hoover, Ford and Carter come to mind) are often judged to have had low effectiveness as presidents. In contrast, some of the personally flawed presidents, such as Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Nixon, are frequently viewed as having been influential or effective.16 When examining the connection between character and leadership, we are confronted with this paradox: Americans want their presidents

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to be virtuous but also tough, and even at times ruthless. We are, after all, electing a president, not a priest. At times, we ask presidents to do things, especially in dealing with foreign adversaries, that are problematic from a purely moral standpoint. Could a completely moral leader order a bombing raid on Iraq? A surge in Afghanistan? Would a Mother Teresa have made a good president? Certainly, the moral example she would have set could serve as a model of individual goodness. But would she have been tough enough to stand up to foreign dictators and international terrorists? The word character comes from the Greek word, meaning the mark of a coin or seal. Euripides defined character as ‘a stamp of good repute on a person.’ Ironically perhaps, some of our most highly regarded presidents were men of chequered character in their private lives. Recent media attention has focused on the extramarital relations presidents and candidates may have had, implying that such affairs should disqualify a candidate from the presidency. Yet, had that long been the standard of judgement, several of America’s popular presidents – Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Clinton and others – would have been disqualified from office. While the president represents the nation and serves as a public symbol of who Americans are, and while logic tells us that character is important, in terms of presidential performance, there is little correlation between ‘high’ personal moral character and performance in office. As already noted, some presidents with chequered backgrounds performed well, and others of the highest character were political failures. Americans often seek out a double-faced personality. We demand the sinister as well as the sincere, the cunning as well as the kind, President Mean and President Nice, the president as Terminator and the president as Mr. Rogers, tough and hard enough to stand up to North Korea, to Saddam Hussein and to the Ayatollah, yet compassionate enough to care for the ill-fed, ill-clad and ill-housed. The public seems to want a kindhearted ‘s.o.b.’, hard roles to cast and an even harder role to perform over the course of a presidency. Former President Richard Nixon, in writing about leaders he had known, said a leader has to employ a variety of unattractive qualities

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on occasion to be effective or at least appear effective. Nixon may have carried these practices too far while in office, but his retirement writings are, nonetheless, instructive: In evaluating a leader, the key question about his behavior traits is not whether they are attractive or unattractive, but whether they are useful. Guile, vanity, dissembling? In other circumstances these might be unattractive habits, but to the leader they can be essential. He needs guile in order to hold together the shifting coalitions of often bitterly opposed interest groups that governing requires. He needs a certain measure of vanity in order to create the right kind of public impression. He sometimes has to dissemble in order to prevail on crucial issues.17 We want decency and compassion at home yet sometimes demand toughness and guile when presidents have to deal with foreign adversaries. We want presidents to be fierce or compassionate, nice or mean, sensitive or ruthless depending on the context, on what we want done, on the situation, and, to some extent, on the role models of the recent past. Americans criticize would-be leaders who are viewed as timid or afraid to make decisions or use power. Carter and Ford were faulted for indecision or a failure to be pragmatic. Journalists said they did not know how to play ‘hardball’. ‘He must know when to dissemble, when to be frank. He must pose as a servant of the public in order to become its master,’ wrote Charles de Gaulle in his book on leadership, The Edge of the Sword. De Gaulle also said leaders need strong doses of egotism, pride and hardness.18 Presidents need to balance their competing impulses. Because leadership is largely contextual, what works in one setting may fail in another. Thus, to be effective across issues and time, leaders must be flexible in matching style to circumstance. Plainly, however, ambition is essential if a leader is to make a major difference. And, to gain power and retain it, one must have a love of power, and this love is often incompatible with moral goodness. In fact, it is often more linked to qualities of hubris and duplicity.

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Questions about presidential character are as old as the office itself. In 1800, ministers denounced Thomas Jefferson from their pulpits as ‘godless’, and Andrew Jackson was pilloried as a barbarian and adulterer. The election of 1884 provides a fascinating case study of character in politics. In that election, Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland was charged with fathering a child out of wedlock. Cleveland took responsibility and agreed to pay for the child’s upbringing. Understandably, this became a key issue for his Republican opponent, James G. Blaine. The problem was that while Cleveland’s private life did indeed raise doubts, he was highly responsible and ethical in his political and professional life. Blaine, on the other hand, had an upright private life yet was far less well regarded for his political integrity. The voters ended up selecting Cleveland.19 Presidents are human; they make mistakes. Some learn from their mistakes, others do not. Our leaders come with a wide array of strengths and weaknesses. To disqualify candidates because it is revealed they made mistakes years ago or because of certain questions about their personal lifestyle may at times be shortsighted. Presidents – both good and bad – have lied to us. But is there a difference between the behaviour of Franklin D. Roosevelt prior to US entry into World War II and Richard Nixon’s lies about Watergate? The essential difference is that Roosevelt misled with the public good in mind, and Nixon misled to save himself. In the long run, historians judge Roosevelt’s methods as questionable but his goals and the outcome as honourable. Historians usually see Nixon’s actions as selfserving and dishonourable.20 President Clinton appears to have occasionally misled the American public about his dating and flirting habits. His lies were often self-serving rather than intended to further the public good. This most assuredly damaged his reputation and lessened trust in him, even if it did not lower his presidential job-approval ratings. While no single definition of character is adequate, for our purposes the following qualities are desirable in a person who becomes president: courage of conviction, an internal moral compass, respect for others, commitment to the public good, respect for democratic standards (the rule of law and the Constitution), trustworthiness, generosity

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of spirit, compassion, empathy, optimism, a sense of decency and fair play, and inner strength and confidence. Is there a useful model for judging character in presidents? The following tests may serve as a beginning: (1) Does the behaviour in question exceed the boundaries of what most reasonable people would think of as acceptable in those circumstances? (2) Is there a clear pattern to this behaviour or does it represent an isolated act or event? (3) Does it affect job performance? Clinton may well be faulted both by the public and historians on questions 1 and 2, yet he could claim these incidents did not seriously affect job performance. In the end, the most meaningful tests of presidential character may well be, ‘Did this president bring out the best in all Americans?’ And, ‘Did this president effectively serve the best interests of the nation as a whole?’ Franklin Roosevelt suggested that the presidency ‘is preeminently a place of moral leadership.’ Yet Roosevelt plainly was talking about the capacity to do good, the capacity of presidents to liberate the forces of good in the country, not personal, private goodness. There is indeed a difference between doing good and being good. One would like a president to be and do good, and yet life and politics are rarely that simple. We demand paradoxical things of presidents, and this pulling and tugging in different directions makes the job difficult and our standards of judgement will at times be contradictory.21 There are a few observations we can make about the relationship between character and leadership: firstly, private character is not necessarily a good guide or predictor of public character or performance. Secondly, prior public character – that is, how well one has behaved in previous offices and public tasks – is a better, although still imperfect, guide to future conduct. Thirdly, our preoccupation with scandal no doubt chases away some good candidates who are reluctant to put themselves and their families through the ugliness of public witchhunts. Fourthly, do not look for saints. We are all human; we all make mistakes. We should judge presidents more by what they do than who they are. While both are important, we must remember we elect a president to govern, not to save our souls. And while the ceremonial, symbolic and even shamanistic or priestly functions of the presidency are

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important, we are a weaker people if we let our presidents, television celebrities or sports stars set the moral tone for the nation. Perhaps the most useful test of presidential character, the one that most closely applies to the task of presidential leadership, is to ask the question Abraham Lincoln posed: did the president, as Lincoln suggested, appeal to the ‘better angels’ within us? Did he try to bring out what was best in the American people, or did he pander to their prejudices and hatreds? In the long run, Clinton and his successors will be judged more on what they did on behalf of the average American than what they did in what little private or personal life presidents have left. President Clinton, in several ways, dishonoured himself and his office. In future years, historians who evaluate Clinton’s presidency will certainly take these failures into consideration in judging and ranking his administration. These negatives obviously made it more difficult for Clinton to provide needed leadership. Historian Robert Dallek appropriately suggests: Successful presidential leadership has always relied on moral authority: a president’s conviction that he is battling for the national good and public perception that he is a credible chief committed to advancing the national well-being. Few things are more destructive to a president’s influence than the belief that he is a deceitful manipulator more intent on serving his personal needs than those of the public.22

Character, Effectiveness and Public Purpose How then do we sort out the complex web of variables that relate to the character/leadership dilemma? Three factors seem especially relevant to our concerns: personal character (private, individual goodness), political effectiveness (political skills and level of accomplishment) and public purpose (policies for the public good). These three variables fit together to form eight possible combinations that characterize the relationship between leadership and character (Figure 2).

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Personal Character

Political Effectiveness

Public Purpose

↑ (high)

↑ (high)

↑ (high)





































↓ (low)

↓ (low)

↓ (low)

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Examples

Nelson Mandela

Jimmy Carter

Clinton/FDR

Jim Jones

Figure 2 Character/Politics Chart.

The ideal is level 1, a leader of high personal character, who is politically effective, and who uses his skill to pursue the public good. Just as clearly, these categories are subjective. One man’s public good is activism, while another’s may be restraint. However, these categories, rather than being rigidly applied, are suggestive. The least desirable leader is towards the bottom of Figure 2, the person of low personal character, who is politically effective (and therefore highly dangerous), and who does not pursue the public good. Most leaders fall somewhere in one of the middle categories. Bill Clinton, for example, may be regarded as a person of questionable character, who was politically effective and attempted to pursue the public good. Apart from the top category, what leadership types are most useful and desirable? An inept but highly moral leader? An effective yet flawed person? The answer to these questions depends largely on whether one believes leadership should primarily be statecraft or soulcraft. Those who insist that the first goal of a leader is to behave morally see governing as primarily soulcraft. They would prefer leaders at the top of Figure 2, leaders with high or moral personal character.

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But those who see governing as primarily statecraft focus on the second and third categories: political effectiveness and public purpose, favouring those leaders high on these variables.

Phronesis Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, tried to guide the enlightened statesman towards effective leadership and stewardship in his discussion of phronesis. Loosely translated, phronesis means knowledge put into appropriate action for a good cause. It is reason and good judgement, sound logic as applied to a complex world, recognizing the limits and possibilities at hand, and deciding on a constructive course of action that is most likely to lead to a morally and politically good result. The verb phronein suggests intelligent awareness, and the noun phronesis means practical prudence, or sound deliberation resulting in correct suppositions about a good end. Wisdom, prudence, good judgment, morally appropriate ends, these are the factors that bring phronesis to light. It is prudence in action, goal maximization directed towards socially good ends, the effort to convert morally and socially sound ideals into policy, and it is what defines good leadership. Phronesis, in its highest form of practice, corresponds with the top category of Figure 2. Phronesis goes beyond mere prudence; it is prudent judgement channelled into action to achieve a good result. It is judgement and action. As James Bill writes, ‘phronesis recognizes a certain balance between the cognitive and the emotional. It brings reason and passion together in empathy.’ Further, ‘to exercise phronesis is not only to match means with a policy goal. Phronesis also means to deliberate and acts in a way that maintains means, ends, and the conduct of policy in balanced tension.’ In this way, phronesis is the art of the statesman and an ‘explicit recognition of moral as well as pragmatic dimensions of effective action.’23 The leader who possesses the skills to govern effectively has competence, judgement and a sense of justice. He has the necessary skills to govern effectively and the ethical compass to govern wisely. If James Bill sees Lyndon Johnson’s Under Secretary of State George Ball as a modern example of phronesis in action, Aristotle had his eye

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on the great Athenian lawgiver, Pericles. To Aristotle, Pericles had the ability to see what was good and to translate that vision into feasible policies designed to reach worthy and attainable goals. Pericles served the public interest even as he helped shape it. He sought justice in an unjust world, and in many instances had the skill and insight to translate his vision into policy. If you seek for presidents who might fit this model, look to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. In general, they did the right things, for the right reasons, towards the right ends. Of course skill matters. And what skills must the effective leader possess? Machiavelli answered this question with an analogy. The skilled leader must play the lion and the fox. The lion was strong, a great fighter; it instilled fear in its rivals. But the lion lacked cunning, wisdom and the ability to fool an adversary. The fox, on the other hand, was a skilled manipulator who by cunning, guile and deception was able to outwit an adversary. While the fox is not a master in battle, it is skilled in the art of deception and wise in the choice of tactics. The great leader combines the skills of the lion and the fox. ‘As a prince is forced to know how to act like a beast,’ argued Machiavelli, ‘he must learn from the fox and the lion. Those who simply act like lions are stupid.’24 Here we inevitably think of the mistakes of George W. Bush over the war in Iraq, where he strutted and acted like the lion, but was ill-advised and ill-prepared to use his full arsenal of tools to deal with the problem. In the end, he was so intent on playing the lion – even when playing the fox might have been wiser – that he walked into a mess that could have and should have been avoided. Bill Clinton also walked into a mess, yet it was a personal/private mess that his adversaries made into a painfully public one. It is easy for the observant outsider to argue that it was something Clinton could easily have avoided. Given his repeated risk-taking in private, sexual matters, however, one might just as easily argue that while he exhibited a high degree of political skill and effectiveness, and used that skill for moral public purposes, there was something within him, some force, some drive, that compelled or led him in a dangerous and self-destructive direction.

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Conclusion The Clinton presidency proved to be one of the most fascinating rollercoaster rides in history. Bill Clinton was a brilliant scalawag, a masterful politician, smart, resourceful, creative, energetic, with a deft touch and a rhetorical flair. He was also a man severely character challenged. His serial affairs and dishonesty about them led others to distrust him and resulted in the most extensive investigations ever launched into the background and alleged sins of a president. Bill Clinton was a leader of extreme contradictions, possibly the most paradoxical president since Richard Nixon. Like Nixon, Clinton had a deeply flawed character but was a man of remarkable political skill, a man who committed huge blunders, but also enjoyed great successes, a man whom the people decidedly did not trust but on whom they showered high job approval ratings, and as with Watergate, one is perplexed by the mystery of how so smart and politically astute a president could do such irresponsible and foolish things. His personal behaviour jeopardized his entire presidency and ended up greatly diminishing his office. As Garry Wills put it, he was ‘a virtuoso empathizer,’ but he was also a national seducer.25 In the end, he was saved by his enemies who so hated him that they grossly overplayed their hand and ended up antagonizing much of the American public. In 1995, after the Republican victory in the congressional elections the year before, Clinton looked like a lame if not a dead duck. But House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in all his self-indulgence, led by a slash-and-burn style of take-no-prisoners politics; and he helped orchestrate a governmental shutdown that in the long run made Clinton look good and probably facilitated his victory in the 1996 presidential contest. And during the dark days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, when his adversaries had in their hands what many believed to be a credible case for impeachment and perhaps conviction, his enemies again stepped in and saved Clinton. Independent Counsel Ken Starr (referred to by his critics as Porn Starr because of the lurid and highly detailed report on the President’s sex life that Starr submitted to the House of Representatives), Henry Hyde and the House Republicans offered

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a dystopian alternative that forced the public into the President’s corner, again saving him from himself. Clinton sparked strong emotions and intense ideological and generational conflict. The rancorous partisanship that had become so much a part of Washington life turned even uglier as the savage slash-andburn tactics of personal destruction polluted the political atmosphere. It was, as Clinton biographer Joe Klein told a Daily Show audience (13 March 2002), a time more known ‘for the ferocity of its persecution that the severity of its crimes.’ In the midst of all this, the Appealing Bill Clinton was at war with the Appalling Bill Clinton. His great political successes could not mask his deep personal failures. Bill Clinton’s accomplishments were many, especially given the nature and behaviour of his opponents who savagely (and at times unfairly) attacked the president and Hillary Clinton, the controversial First Lady. In reaction to the Reagan years, where the nation shifted from a centre-left to a centre-right orientation, Clinton moved the Democratic Party closer to the political centre. His ‘Third Way’ (between the liberal left of the Democratic Party and the hard right of the Republicans) allowed him to ‘triangulate’ himself between two extremes, and offer voters a moderate alternative to the old style leftright models. Led by Republican and independent counsel investigations, the Clintons faced inquiries into the Whitewater land deal, the firing of travel office employees, accusations that they were responsible for the death of White House aide Vince Foster (who had committed suicide, two independent counsels concluded), as well as court proceedings related to accusations of sexual wrongdoings from Paula Jones. Clinton also faced investigations into fundraising improprieties (‘renting out’ the Lincoln Bedroom to fat cat donors), and finally, Ken Starr’s investigations of Monicagate, where the President lied about the affair to the public, essentially lied about it under oath, and sparked a move for impeachment. Despite Clinton’s job approval rating in the 60 per cent range, the House of Representatives pressed for impeachment. The Judiciary Committee passed four articles of impeachment on a straight party vote. The grounds for impeachment included perjury, obstruction of

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justice and abuse of power. For only the second time in history, the full House was asked to impeach a president. When the House convened on 19 December 1998 to deal with the impeachment of Clinton, Speaker-designate Robert Livingston shocked the nation by announcing his resignation. It seems Livingston was about to be ousted for having an extra-marital affair. Then Henry Hyde, who headed the Judiciary Committee, admitted that the stories about his affair were true. Instead of resigning, Hyde led the charge against the president. Eventually the House approved two articles of impeachment against the president: perjury and obstruction of justice. Impeachment cases are tried in the Senate with a two-thirds vote required for conviction. On 7 January 1999 the trial began. Members of the House Judiciary Committee made the case for impeachment, but despite the fact that the Republicans controlled the Senate, both articles of impeachment failed to get even a simple majority. Article 1 (perjury) failed 45–55, with ten Republicans voting against the charge. Article 2 (obstruction of justice) ended in a 50–50 tie, with four Republicans voting against the article. The Republicans failed to oust the President, but the Independent Counsel’s office (which eventually spent over $60 million in its investigation of Clinton) continued to pursue the President. Shortly before leaving office, Clinton made a deal with the Counsel to end the inquiry. He admitted that some of the answers he gave ‘were false,’ and agreed to a five-year suspension of his Arkansas law license and agreed to pay a $25,000 fine. Bill Clinton emerged as the Roadrunner: the cartoon character relentlessly pursued by Wiley Coyote, who was obsessed with catching him. He would paint a false opening on a mountain only to be shocked when Roadrunner would run right through. Wiley, in mad pursuit, would follow the Roadrunner into the cave, only to be flattened when he crashed into the side of the mountain. Bill Clinton could do this to his adversaries. As his accusers crumbled – Livingston, Hyde, Starr, Gingrich – as their careers or reputations sank, Clinton survived. What did Bill Clinton accomplish as president? His record is mixed but, in political terms, generally positive. A list of his accomplishments

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must begin with the extraordinary success of the American economy on his watch. While many were responsible for this success, surely Clinton deserves high marks for his economic management. Under Clinton, Gross Domestic Product rose by more than 4 per cent per year; productivity was up nearly 3 per cent; inflation rose at only a 2.5 per cent average; interest rates were down, while taxes were made slightly more progressive; unemployment dropped to around 4 per cent; the minimum wage rose; a free trade regime was strengthened internationally (NAFTA); the stock market rose dramatically; corporate profits soared, and not only did Clinton balance the federal budget (thought to be impossible before he became president), but he also left a huge surplus. Any way one measures it, the Clinton years were a time of economic boom. Likewise, most social indicators were headed in the right direction. Crime was down, as were teen pregnancy and welfare rolls.26 In domestic policies, the Family and Medical Leave Bill was passed; environmental protection extended (against strong Republican opposition); the Brady Bill (gun control) passed; health care, after initial failure, was extended; and a series of often small victories was accomplished. The New York Times called it ‘Progressivism Light’.27 In foreign policy, while Clinton was not able to chart a clear course for the post-cold war world, he did stem the dangerous tide of isolationism in the United States, kept the country at the centre of global leadership, and made international free trade and economic growth benchmarks for his administration. Having taken the first difficult steps toward recognizing ‘globalism’ as the wave of the future, he also expanded the definition of national security so as to include meeting economic and environmental threats to security, as well as dealing with cyber terrorism.28 Peace and prosperity were indeed impressive accomplishments during the Clinton era, and yet the gaping problems of character and the impeachment will always cast a dark shadow over his legacy. While it may well be, as Clinton supporters hope, that history will regard the assault on his presidency in the same way most historians now regard the first presidential impeachment (overzealous Republicans were to blame!), Clinton can never escape the fact that he was impeached, a

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blemish that will sully his reputation forever. A man of enormous appetites and few personal restraints, he demeaned himself and diminished the office. He pressed his legal claims in the Lewinsky affair to their limits and thereby left the presidency weaker and more defenceless. Presidential immunity, privilege and privacy have all been eroded due to Clinton’s actions.29 In the long run, history will probably judge Clinton somewhere in the middle of the pack of American presidents. Not great, not a failure. His many political successes will salvage something, but his personal faults will haunt him. He is indeed a complex and contradictory man, and his presidency reflected his grand complexity.

Notes See: Covery, Stephen R., The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything (New York: Free Press, 2008); Potter, Ronald, and Hastings, Wayne, Trust Me: Developing a Leadership Style People Will Follow (BookSurge Publishing, 2008); Bracey, Hyler, Building Trust (Taylorsville: HB Artworks, Inc., 2002). 2. See: Riggio, Ronald E. et al, The Art of Followership (San Francisco: JosseyBass, 2008). 3. Brendlinger, Irv, The Call to Authenticity (Lexington: Emeth Press, 2009); Okafor, Patrick Chudi, Self Confrontation, Self Discovery, Self Authenticity and Leadership (Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2009); George, Bill, Authentic Leadership (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004). 4. Cronin, Thomas E., and Genovese, Michael A., The Paradoxes of The American Presidency, 3rd edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009). 5. Klein, Joe, The Natural (New York: Broadway, 2003); Hamilton, Nigel, Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency (New York: PublicAffairs, 2008); Clinton, Bill, My Life (New York: Vintage, 2005); Harris, John F., The Survivor (New York: Random House, 2006). 6. Pfiffner, James P., ‘Sexual Probity and Presidential Character’, Presidential Studies Quarterly (Fall 1998). 7. Quirk, Paul J., ‘Coping with the Politics of Scandal’, Presidential Studies Quarterly (Fall 1998). 8. Ginsberg, Benjamin and Shafter, Martin, Politics By Other Means: The Declining Importance of Elections in America (New York: Basic Books, 1990). 9. Garment, Suzanne, Scandal: The Culture of Mistrust (New York: Anchor, 1992). 1.

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10. See: ‘Presidential corruption’ in Michael A Genovese and Victoria FarrarMyers, Corruption and American Politics (Amherst, New York: Cambria Press, 2010), pp. 135–175. 11. Harris Poll, 25 February 1998. 12. ABC/Washington Post poll, 19 February 1998. 13. Los Angeles Times poll, 1 February 1998. 14. The Public Perspective, April/May 1998, p. 20. 15. Friedman, Thomas L., ‘Character suicide’, New York Times, 27 January 1998, p. A23. 16. See poll data in The Public Perspective, April/May 1998, p. 19. 17. Nixon, Richard M., Leaders (New York: Warner Books, 1983), p. 341. 18. De Gaulle, Charles, The Edge of the Sword (New York: Criterion, 1960). 19. See: Graff, Henry F., Grover Cleveland (New York: Times Books, 2002); and Welch, Jr., Richard E., The Presidencies of Grover Cleveland (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1988). 20. Genovese, Michael A., The Nixon Presidency: Power and Politics in Turbulent Times (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1990). 21. Cronin and Genovese: The Paradoxes of the American Presidency. 22. Robert Dallek, ‘Can Clinton still govern?’ Washington Post National (Weekly edition), 5 October 1998, p. 22. 23. Bill, James A., George Ball: Behind the Scenes in U.S. Foreign Policy (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 204–205. 24. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (New York: Penguin, 2005 edition). 25. Garry Wills, ‘The Clinton Principle’, New York Times (Books), 19 January 1997. 26. See: Campbell, Colin, and Rockman, Bert A., The Clinton Legacy (New York: Chatham House, 2000). 27. See: Berman, William C., From the Center to the Edge: The Politics and Policies of the Clinton Presidency (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001); and Stoesz, David, Small Change: Domestic Policy Under the Clinton Presidency (White Pillars, New York: Longman, 1996). 28. For Clinton’s views, see Clinton: My Life. 29. See: Adler, David Gray, and Genovese, Michael A., The Presidency and the Law: The Clinton Legacy (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002).

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7 DIPLOM ACY IN NORTHER N IR EL AND: SUCCESSFUL PR AGM ATIC INTER NATIONAL ENGAGEMENT JOHN DUMBRELL

Writing some years after the achievement of the 1998 Belfast Agreement, Nancy Soderberg, former Ireland specialist on President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council staff, set the context of Clinton’s Irish interventions firmly in the context of the administration’s wider foreign policy aspirations. She linked Clinton’s search for peace in Ireland with the less successful push for a settlement in the Middle East. Northern Ireland and the Middle East involved ‘long-running conflicts, apparently so violent and entrenched that diplomatic approaches risked seeming naive’. Yet in both cases the Clinton administration ‘came to understand that the United States had unique tools and opportunities to help the parties move forward’. The US had ‘historic ties with the peoples concerned’; besides massive military power, America had ‘economic might that could speak to the aspirations, not just the fears, of citizens on both sides of the divides’. Clinton came to understand

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how, as ‘the sole remaining superpower, the United States can impart legitimacy upon international actors, for instance, through granting them access to the White House’. In the view of the Clinton White House, success in its Northern Irish intervention would help lay ‘the groundwork for a new global concept of peacemaking, and new trust of the United States in that role’.1 This chapter offers, in essence, an elaboration and contextualization of Soderberg’s depiction of the Clinton administration’s Irish interventions. The chapter argues that the 1998 Belfast (or Good Friday) Agreement was in significant measure traceable to American diplomatic engagement with Irish issues. The chapter links Clinton’s involvement to wider foreign policy concerns, notably his administration’s desire to establish precedents for American regional peace-promotion in the post-Cold War environment. In this chapter, I will stress the positive insights of Clinton’s foreign policy team, especially their understanding of the possibilities for peace in Northern Ireland and of the likely impact of American diplomatic activism in the Irish context. The following discussion will also explore three key themes in this volume: those of character, historical achievement and ideology. It will conclude with a consideration of the surprisingly close association of activism in Northern Ireland with Clinton’s underpinning foreign policy ideology.

Clinton and Northern Ireland: 1992 to 1998 Bill Clinton’s stance on Northern Ireland during the 1992 election campaign against President George H. W. Bush marked a distinct departure from the incumbent’s cautious line on American engagement with the Irish Troubles. A few days before polling day, candidate Clinton issued a statement, criticising the ‘wanton use of lethal force by British security forces’ in the province. The statement, which took the form of a letter to a group entitled ‘Irish Americans for Clinton and Gore’, endorsed the MacBride principles (an initiative, adopted by a few American states, to impose ‘fair employment’ requirements for US-owned firms operating in Northern Ireland). It also embodied a rather vague promise to appoint a US ‘peace envoy’ to the province if Clinton were elected to the White House.2

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The 1992 letter was widely interpreted in the British press as a transparent effort by a southern Protestant politico to win approval from northern Catholic Democrats. It was widely noted that Nancy Soderberg, the drafter of the letter, had recently worked on the staff of Edward Kennedy, the country’s leading Irish-American politician and a key power-broker in the US Senate. Following the election, ‘Irish Americans for Clinton and Gore’ mutated into Americans for a New Irish Agenda (ANIA), associated with figures such as former Democratic Congressman (and law school classmate of Clinton) Bruce Morrison, Niall O’Dowd (editor of The Irish Voice), and various IrishAmerican businesspeople. With the new president apparently keen to keep Irish engagement alive beyond the election, Clinton appeared to be aligning himself with a broadly constitutional nationalist policy towards the province, a policy which had been promoted by Senator Kennedy since the 1970s and which was now being embraced by a new generation of wealthy, business-oriented Irish Americans. Clinton’s approach also seemed to be putting him on a collision course with London, where the Conservative government of John Major made no secret of its opposition to what it saw as American meddling in internal UK affairs. The tension between Washington and London in this early period was exacerbated by press reports that the Major government had cooperated in 1992 Bush campaign efforts to smear Clinton. (There were rumours that, while studying at Oxford in the late 1960s, Clinton had attempted to take UK nationality in order to avoid being drafted to Vietnam.)3 The rifts between Clinton and Major were apparent in the response of Northern Ireland Secretary Patrick Mayhew to the ‘peace envoy’ idea: ‘We do not need a peace envoy, thank you very much’.4 During 1993, the Clinton administration kept the ‘peace envoy’ idea alive, with the implication being that some kind of power-sharing ‘solution’ in the province would be rewarded by substantial American economic investment. The key issue now was whether to issue a visa to Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). Despite hints to the contrary, Adams was twice denied a visa in 1993. In November of that year, Clinton told New York City Mayor David Dinkins (a strong supporter of

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Adams’ campaign to visit the US in order to promote the republican cause) that ‘credible evidence exists that Adams remains involved at the highest levels in devising strategy’ for the IRA.5 Despite the new spirit of American activism, the real dynamic in these early months of the Clinton first term lay in the cooperative efforts between London and Dublin. Washington did not move towards supporting a visa for Gerry Adams until after the issuing of the 1993 Downing Street Declaration; the ground-breaking Declaration announced that London had no selfish interest in maintaining the current constitutional status of Northern Ireland, but also asserted the principle of majority consent for any change. Though Washington drew close to the Irish Republic government of Albert Reynolds, the latter at this time was extremely sensitive to the danger that Clinton’s activism might drive a wedge between London and Dublin. Dick Spring, Irish foreign minister, told Newsweek in October 1993: ‘America has a long record of assisting countries with conflict resolution, but not when America is not wanted’.6 The promulgation of the Downing Street Declaration was the signal for Washington to bid for leadership of the peace dynamic. Clinton described the Declaration as ‘a big leap forward’; Adams should now be admitted to the US as a way of getting him to ‘join the peace train’.7 The eventual issuing of a visa in February 1994 was preceded by visits to Belfast by members of Americans for a New Irish Agenda. One such visit in August 1993 was greeted by a short IRA ceasefire. O’Dowd throughout 1993 held a series of meetings with leading Sinn Fein/ IRA figures. The short 1993 ceasefire was a pre-orchestrated ‘signal’ or ‘IRA gesture’ to the White House that the republican movement was ready to respond positively to American engagement.8 Key members of the White House foreign policy team, led by National Security Adviser Tony Lake, were now coming to the conclusion that the IRA/ Sinn Fein were re-thinking their strategy and that conditions for peace – from general war-weariness to the implications for UK and Irish sovereignty, deriving from each nation’s membership of the European Union – did exist. By the end of 1993, there was a general impression in the United States that, to use a metaphor from Thomas Flanagan in the New York Times, the Irish glacier was melting. Flanagan pointed to

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the dialogue between Sinn Fein, the ANIA group and John Hume of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).9 In November 1993, a New York Times leading article criticised the Major government for not being more open about its contacts with the IRA: ‘undeniably, there can be no peace without engaging its (the IRA’s) leaders’.10 The granting of a visa to Gerry Adams was the Clinton administration’s way of engaging the IRA in an American-driven peace process. The IRA would be invited in from the cold. If a lasting IRA ceasefire ensued, as Nancy Soderberg later put it, ‘Clinton’s actions would be vindicated’. If ‘Adams failed to deliver a ceasefire after Clinton had risked such political capital on him, then Clinton would be in a strong position to turn Irish America against Adams and undermine the IRA’, as the IRA leadership would be well aware.11 The two-day visa for Adams was supported by Tony Lake and the National Security Council staff, and eventually by President Clinton himself, but opposed by the State Department and by the Central Intelligence Agency. Raymond Seitz, US Ambassador to the UK, later attacked Jean Kennedy Smith as the ‘in-house coach for the Irish lobby’. Seitz was aghast at Clinton’s appointment of Kennedy Smith (sister to Edward) as US Ambassador to Dublin: ‘Too shallow to understand the past and too naive to anticipate the future, she was an ardent IRA apologist’. The Adams visa involved a major breach between Washington and London, with the latter (according to Seitz) ceasing to pass sensitive information to the US lest it find its way into the hands of the IRA.12 From Washington’s point of view, a cooling of the US–UK Special Relationship was a small price to pay for the ceasefire, which eventually came in August 1994. The major loyalist paramilitaries followed suit in October. After a short ‘decontamination’ interlude for Sinn Fein, US personnel moved swiftly to open direct and open lines of communication with republican leaders. Even more significantly, Washington at last became more exercised by the need to bring loyalists into the process. Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader James Molyneaux was invited into a dialogue with Vice President Al Gore. The ANIA negotiations which preceded the 1994 ceasefires included leaders of the loyalist paramilitaries. The key figure to be left on the platform as the peace train departed was Ian Paisley. The White House view was

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reflected in the words of author Thomas Flanagan, who described the Democratic Unionist leader as ‘an ice-encrusted fragment of the glacier, adrift and bobbing, clutching in his frozen hands his Cromwellian battle standards’.13 By 1995, Washington was effectively leading the peace process. London was encouraged to press ahead with negotiations, as American administration spokespeople became increasingly vocal about the economic benefits of peace. Clinton announced in December 1994 that retiring Senate Majority leader George Mitchell would become ‘special adviser for economic initiatives in Ireland’, declaring: ‘There must be a peace dividend in Ireland for the peace to succeed’.14 At a meeting organized by the US State Department in March 1995, Patrick Mayhew (Secretary of State for Northern Ireland) outlined the process whereby arms decommissioning, by both republicans and loyalists, might open the way for direct negotiations. Mayhew’s third stated requirement was for the ‘actual decommissioning of some arms’ – what became known as ‘Washington Three’ – and it soon became the focus of negotiations about negotiations. The performance of George Mitchell, whose role soon moved beyond the purely economic realm, apparently helped reconcile London to the expanded American involvement in the peace process.15 David Trimble, Molyneaux’s successor as UUP leader, had some difficult meetings with the Americans (notably Tony Lake), but soon assumed his seat on Clinton’s peace train. By the end of November 1995, Trimble had accepted that ‘Washington Three’ would have to be abandoned in favour of a more complex (‘twin track’) formula, designed to achieve simultaneous cross-party talks and decommissioning progress, via an international commission led by George Mitchell.16 (Trimble was offered the prospect of elections, leading to some kind of assembly with an inevitable unionist majority.) Bill Clinton’s visit to Belfast in November 1995 was the high point of this early phase of US interventionism: a mixture of showmanship, empathetic understanding and sensitivity to the moment. The visit lives in popular memory as a triumph for Clinton, yet as Nancy Soderberg noted at the time, there was always a risk of the president raising unrealistic hopes – that he could always be expected to be ‘pulling a rabbit out of a hat’.17 The acceptance, in a joint statement by John

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Major and Irish Taoiseach John Bruton, of the ‘twin track’ approach seemed to be a response to the pressure exerted by the Clinton visit. (Leader of a Fine Gael/Labour coalition, John Bruton had replaced Albert Reynolds as Taoiseach in 1994). As journalist Ger Philpott put it, ‘Bruton’s and Major’s eleventh hour communique had everything to do with Clinton’s arrival’ in Belfast.18 Yet London was still extremely nervous about Clinton, and unconvinced by his efforts to promote even-handedness across the sectarian divide. Jonathan Powell, Prime Minister Blair’s chief Irish negotiator, recalled that, though the IRA ‘turned off punishment beatings and killings during Clinton’s visit to Northern Ireland at the end of November (1995), they turned them on again at a higher rate after he had gone’.19 By early 1996, Sinn Fein was operating a $200,000-a-year office in Washington DC, with little in the way of meaningful restrictions on fundraising. Mitchell’s decommissioning report was published in January 1996. It offered meagre prospects for actual progress on decommissioning, but was generally couched in optimistic language concerning the still continuing peace dynamic. The report outlined the ‘Mitchell principles’ of commitment to non-violence and democratic process, which were to become the conditions of inclusion of parties in negotiations about the future of Northern Ireland.20 A month later, George Mitchell’s sentiments, and indeed the entire American peace effort, were overtaken by events. The spectacular Canary Wharf bombing in London broke the IRA ceasefire. Clinton’s strategy seemed overblown and naive. Talks began at Stormont Castle, under Mitchell’s chairmanship, in June 1996 with Sinn Fein excluded. Clinton privately told historian Taylor Branch that he still believed that Gerry Adams was committed to the peace process, but that the Sinn Fein leader had been ‘powerless to stop the IRA military commanders who were determined to blame England for the stalled talks’.21 The Major government continued to maintain contacts with the republican leadership following the Canary Wharf bombing. However, it was the coming to power in 1997 of Tony Blair’s New Labour government which instigated, and established the context for, the second phase of Clinton interventionism in Ireland. Judgements about the relationship between John Major and Bill Clinton differ. Peter

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Westmacott, a British diplomat who was present at several meetings between the two leaders, insists that Major and Clinton did enjoy a close working relationship.22 Major’s freedom of action was inevitably limited by his sometime reliance on unionist votes in the House of Commons for his government’s survival, rather than by any lack of enthusiasm for the peace process. However, there is no question that Clinton and Blair were much closer, and that Blair’s government was considerably more relaxed than its predecessor about American presidential intervention in Northern Ireland. In a lecture given in 1999, George Mitchell recalled the change of tone which followed Blair’s election. With a change of government also taking place in Dublin – John Bruton was replaced as Taoiseach by Fianna Fail’s Bertie Ahern - Mitchell clearly felt that a logjam had been broken, recalling: ‘Blair and Ahern came to Belfast and showed true leadership’.23 Prior to his election as Prime Minister, Tony Blair had moved the Labour opposition towards a more clearly anti-terrorist and less pronationalist stance than had been the case during the earlier part of the 1990s. On meeting Blair in Washington in 1996, Clinton described the New Labour stance on Ireland as ‘smart’ and ‘morally right’.24 The Clintonites seemed impressed by the forthright style of Mo Mowlam, shadow (and, after the election, actual) Northern Ireland Secretary. Lake saw her as ‘engaged, sensible, direct and knowledgeable’.25 Blair and Mowlam’s frequently expressed desire to get moving on Northern Ireland, even in the wake of the Canary Wharf bombing, chimed with the mood in Washington. Reflecting in 1998 on developments since Blair’s election, journalist John Carlin noted: ‘Every public declaration made by Mr Clinton, Mr Ahern and Mo Mowlam appeared almost as if it had been carefully orchestrated and jointly rehearsed’.26 The restoration of the IRA ceasefire in July 1997 stimulated the burst of coordinated transatlantic activity which culminated in the Belfast Agreement of 1998. The White House reception for St Patrick’s Day, 1998, involved direct and prolonged exchanges between Clinton and representatives of most shades of Ulster opinion, including David Trimble, Gerry Adams, Lord Alderdyce of the Alliance Party, and Gary McMichael of the Ulster Democratic Party (linked to the loyalist paramilitaries). Not involved in the Washington

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discussions was the leadership of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who rejected American intervention as inherently republican in intent, and the ‘Real IRA’, die-hard republicans who opposed Sinn Fein’s signing up to the Mitchell principles. Despite the looming nonpresence of, especially, Ian Paisley’s DUP, the White House took every opportunity at this stage to proclaim its concern for even-handedness. Various figures, such as Virginia businessman Tony Cullen-Foster, were cultivated as special conduits to unionism, while, as we have seen, some figures close to the loyalist paramilitaries were actually invited in to the White House.27 The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was a document of inherent ambiguity which both republican and loyalist supporters of the peace process were able to spin in different ways. As Mo Mowlam later put it, the fact that the Agreement was ‘open to multiple interpretations proved to be both a strength and a weakness – but it was the only way to get an agreement between all the different parties’.28 Combining an assembly, a power-sharing executive, early prisoner releases, a ‘BritishIrish Council’, and institutionalized executive links between governments in the North and South of Ireland, the Agreement did just about enough to keep the unionist negotiators on board. Mitchell’s role as chair was manifestly a central one. He was subjected to some press criticism for allowing the various parties to expound well rehearsed positions at too great a length in the run-up to the final negotiations. Mitchell, however, was aware that final negotiating positions would never be declared until the eleventh hour before the looming deadline. Bill Clinton directly lobbied key players by telephone, sometimes at the direct request of Tony Blair, sometimes of his own volition. Gerry Adams seems to have received three personal calls in the early hours before the deadline.29 According to the diaries of Alastair Campbell, Clinton’s interventions were especially important in pressurizing Adams on prisoner release issues, and in persuading the unionists against ‘running away’ after Sinn Fein had agreed to the deal.30 At one level, these telephone calls from the White House were weighty communications from the leader of the world’s most powerful nation. David Trimble apparently stood up to receive the calls.31 Yet, as George Mitchell later stressed, Clinton ‘wasn’t making cold calls.

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He knew the people he was calling’.32 Asked about his phone calls in a press conference on 10 April, Clinton acknowledged that he had ‘made a lot of phone calls last night’, but insisted he was simply doing ‘what I was asked to do’.33

Clinton’s Character and Personal Commitment Journalistic and academic discussion of Bill Clinton rarely strays far from the ‘character issue’. In the terms used by James David Barber, Clinton’s character was ‘active-positive’. His conceptualization of the presidency was activist, and he was able to derive emotional satisfaction from the exercise of office. Yet, like other ‘active-positives’, he had a tendency towards over-confident overreach.34 In addition, Clinton, more than any other recent president, has acquired a reputation for shallowness of conviction and (as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., put it) as having the qualities of an ‘endearing rogue’.35 In a 1995 late evening conversation with Taylor Branch – one of a series designed to provide material for future historical evaluation of his presidency – Clinton acknowledged his own reputation as a ‘feckless character of elastic beliefs’.36 Bill Clinton has indeed frequently been portrayed as a shallow opportunist and as a president with a limited attention span. A major point to be made in this chapter is that, at least as far as Northern Ireland was concerned, Bill Clinton was not an opportunistic and feckless policy ‘channel surfer’. His commitment to involvement in the peace process was consistent and persistent. In his autobiography, My Life, Clinton traces his mature involvement with Ireland to the campaign for the New York Democratic primary in 1992. He met a range of Irish American activists, including veteran civil rights lawyer Paul O’Dwyer, Niall O’Dowd, journalist Jimmy Breslin, and Peter King (the Republican Congressman from Long Island who was closely identified with Irish republican causes). The Irish Americans ‘wanted me to push for an end to the violence in Northern Ireland on terms that were fair to the Catholic minority’. Clinton decided to take up the cause, including the Irish American demand for a US ‘special representative’, even though ‘I knew it would infuriate the British’.37 Clinton’s adoption of Irish causes in the

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context of pressure from nationalists was itself significant, as was his conscious recognition of the likely damage to relations with London. Unsurprisingly, Clinton was to find it difficult both to steer a credibly even-handed course between the competing political factions in Northern Ireland, and to stay within previously accepted definitions of acceptable American behaviour in respect of its British ally. Clinton’s interest in Ireland, however, preceded the 1992 presidential campaign. Proud of his Irish heritage on his mother’s side, he developed an early interest in the Irish Troubles while studying at Oxford University.38 Except for stopovers at Shannon airport, neither Hillary nor Bill Clinton had visited Ireland, North or South, prior to Bill becoming president. Yet Clinton was both interested and well versed in Irish issues. John Hume, on first seriously discussing Irish issues with Bill Clinton, ‘was absolutely astounded by the depth and detail of his knowledge’.39 As a student at Oxford, Clinton would naturally have tended to interpret the Troubles in terms derived from the American civil rights struggles. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was consciously modelled on American civil rights organizations, and it would have been extraordinary if the young Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas had not invoked American comparisons in attempting to understand the Irish conflict. Clinton told the London Times in 1995: ‘I could see it coming, that religious differences were likely to lead to the same kind of problems that racial differences had in my childhood’.40 Clinton’s experiences and views of Britain and the US–UK Special Relationship influenced his approach to the Irish question. So what were these experiences and views? Clinton had a close knowledge of Britain and an affection for the country where he had studied. He was also no stranger to the strand of condescending anti-Americanism in elite British attitudes towards the former colony. James Fallows, journalist and former aide to President Carter, recalled in 1994 how Clinton and other Rhodes Scholars (such as Fallows himself) had been viewed at Oxford in the era of the Vietnam War: ‘during his (Clinton’s) time Rhodes Scholars were viewed as if they’d just come in from eating woodchucks or inbreeding up in the hills’.41 Bill Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, was to complain about British anti-Americanism

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while she was studying at Oxford in the post-9/11 years. Clinton himself was frequently accused of not caring about the US–UK Special Relationship. Former Secretary of State James Baker, rather absurdly, accused Clinton in 1996 of engineering ‘the worst relationship with our closest ally, Britain, since the Boston Tea Party in 1773’.42 Raymond Seitz records Clinton laughing uproariously at the very mention of ‘the special relationship’ with the UK.43 One imagines that Clinton was not personally averse to the puncturing of British pomposity. He may have had some surreptitious sympathy for the attitude of White House adviser George Stephanopoulos as expressed around the time of the Adams visa row: ‘It obviously ticks off a lot of Brits but equally obviously that is acceptable to a lot of us’.44 Assessments of the Clinton character often shaped journalistic evaluations of the American interventions in Northern Ireland. In the British press, Clinton was seen to be dancing to the tune of powerful Irish-American politicos. In early 1994, The Guardian reported that ‘White House officials’ had ‘admitted Mr Clinton had ended the 20-year ban on US visits by Mr Adams mainly because of pressure from (Edward) Kennedy and another prominent Democratic senator, Pat Moynihan, both of whom face re-election battles this year’.45 The impact of Irish America on the Clinton policies will be assessed below. Here the intention is simply to note the widely held view of Clinton in the UK (especially in the period 1994–96) as a meretricious meddler, whose chief concern was his own domestic political profile. Conservative backbench MP James Cran, for example, accused Clinton in early March 1994 of personal duplicity, directing a ‘stab in the back’ against America’s best ally.46 More typical was a leader in The Economist of 18 March 1995, which stated that though Clinton was ‘sincere’ in desiring to make a contribution to Irish peace, the ‘eagerness to treat Mr Adams as a world statesman was just deeply ill-advised’.47 The Belfast trip of 1995 was a publicity success, but also stimulated comment to the effect that Clinton was just an empty showman. He had borrowed a line from Seamus Heaney, declaring in Belfast: ‘We are living in a moment when hope and history rhyme’.48 To some observers, it seemed more like ‘hype and history’. In the pages of the Belfast magazine, Fortnight, Robert Fisk urged that there was ‘no use

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relying on Uncle Bill’: Washington was only interested in a settlement which was consistent with its geopolitical, as well as the president’s immediate political, interests.49 Writing in late 1995, Paul Bew argued that the ‘spirit’ of the Belfast trip was ‘an airbrushed version of modern Northern Irish history which is effectively made to begin in 1968 when it is now reported that the young Clinton . . . was understandably horrified by scenes of police brutality directed against Ulster civil rights marchers’. Earlier US-Northern Irish links, notably the stationing of 180,000 US servicemen in the province during World War Two, were being played down in the interests of the new political correctness.50 Some of these negative comments on Clinton’s personal involvement in the affairs of a constituent part of the United Kingdom were reasonable. By 1998, however, it was becoming rather difficult to portray Clinton as an irresponsible opportunist, self-indulgently grandstanding for political effect. The American president might plausibly be accused of meddling, but his personal commitment to Irish peace was genuine. Hence he was frequently exasperated by the quarrelsomeness of the province’s political leaders. When David Trimble and senior SDLP figure Seamus Mallon were first invited to the US by Clinton, they apparently spent their entire half-hour of presidential time arguing with each other.51 Alastair Campbell records Clinton’s reaction to a long session with the Ulstermen: ‘Hell, I’d rather be on holiday with Kenneth Starr than hanging out with these guys’.52 Yet Clinton did persist. When it came to Northern Ireland, he was not ‘a feckless character of elastic beliefs’. Clinton’s personal commitment to Northern Ireland was made in the context of the American politics of constitutional nationalism – the politics of an Edward Kennedy or a Niall O’Dowd. To what extent was Clinton able to transcend this sort of politics? Did Clinton intervene for peace, or for the cause of constitutional nationalism? How far did he succeed in achieving an even-handed policy for Ireland? As in so many areas of dispute relating to Northern Ireland, two interpretations are possible. The first would acknowledge that Clinton, and many associated policy-makers in the 1990s, came to an

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understanding of the politics of the province in the context of constitutional nationalism. However, according to this interpretation, Irish America by the 1990s, following over twenty years of Troubles, had dropped many of the old simplicities. Niall O’Dowd offers an account of his visit to Belfast in 1993: ‘we heard the passionate voices of working-class unionists and we realized that they too desperately needed outside help to accomplish progress in their community’.53 Clinton – a southern Protestant, it should not be forgotten – was able to set in motion a train to peace, not a train to a united Ireland. If Ireland were one day to become united, it would be many years hence and unity would be achieved through Anglo-Irish consensus, not in any sense through American pressure. Bill Clinton was thus the first post1968 president to take unionism seriously, inviting key loyalists like Molyneaux and Trimble to take part in meaningful negotiations.54 Early overtures were made to Ian Paisley and the Democratic Unionists, only for such overtures to be spurned. Washington was subsequently able to exploit the divisions within unionism. Even-handedness was achieved. Mainstream unionism accepted the 1998 Agreement, which was then endorsed by referendum. A competing interpretation would point out that it was Gerry Adams rather than David Trimble who tended to compliment the administration on its ‘even-handed approach to peace’.55 Such an interpretation would cast doubt on the depth of American insight into the politics of loyalism. A convenient example here would be Nancy Soderberg’s comparison between Ireland and the Middle East: ‘As with Yasir Arafat’, wrote Soderberg, ‘access to the White House bestowed political legitimacy on Adams and Trimble, thus increasing their political power at home and helping them move forward to peace’.56 The idea that Trimble’s association with Clinton in any sense shored up his support among unionists is unpersuasive. Anthony Seldon reports the common view of British negotiators at the Good Friday meetings that Clinton ‘while keen to see a resolution, was not at all keen to give ground to the Unionists, any more than his own staff, Nancy Soderberg and James Steinberg’. A Blair aide told Seldon: ‘The idea that they were in any sense objective is a joke’.57 Rather (it may be argued) than honest brokers, the Americans were inserting

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themselves as part of a grand international pan-nationalist consensus, designed certainly to achieve peace, and to take the ground from under violent republicanism: but also concerned to extract concessions from unionism, and to move the peace train fairly firmly on to nationalist tracks. Americans for a New Irish Agenda, the forces associated with Edward Kennedy and his allies in Northern Ireland (notably John Hume), the Reynolds and (later) Ahern administrations in Dublin, the Clinton White House: pan-(constitutional) nationalism could muster some powerful adherents by the mid-1990s. Commenting on the new American activism in 1995, Tim Pat Coogan concluded: ‘Not even in Parnell’s time when . . . the Fenians, the Land League and the forces of constitutionalism joined together under his leadership had such a powerful coalition been formed’.58 The second of the above accounts of Clinton’s putative evenhandedness has some persuasive power. The White House’s apparent incomprehension regarding the extent and intensity of grass-roots loyalist support for the DUP was especially striking. Nevertheless, given its roots and context, Clinton’s Irish activism was reasonably evenhanded, though it never achieved genuinely ‘honest broker’ status. Before attempting further evaluation of the policy, let us consider the historical achievement represented by the 1998 Agreement, looking firstly at earlier instances of White House intervention and also at the immediate aftermath of the Agreement.

Historical Achievement Bill Clinton was not the first American president who sought to intervene in Northern Irish affairs, and who struggled to achieve a credible even-handedness. The general tenor of American policy towards the Troubles, however, was set by the State Department and developed within the confines of Cold War era caution about unduly upsetting London. At the very outset of the modern Troubles in 1969, a State Department spokesman reacted to Irish American calls for some kind of US intervention for Catholic civil rights in the following terms: ‘The United Kingdom is a friendly country which, unlike certain other countries with civil rights problems, has a basic structure of

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democratic institutions and political freedom’.59 Though certainly a junior partner, London was a valuable Cold War ally, hosting strategically important American air bases. Traditional State Department caution about intervening in Irish matters continued into the Clinton years, most obviously with Raymond Seitz’s opposition to the 1994 Adams visa. However, by the late 1970s, an alternative outlook on Ireland had developed in the White House. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter issued a statement on the province, promising ‘increased investment’ in the event of a ‘peaceful settlement’ based on cross-sectarian power-sharing. Carter’s statement was resented in London, but may have helped spark the power-sharing initiative announced by Northern Irish Secretary Humphrey Atkins in October 1977.60 Carter’s (admittedly muted) activism on Ireland paralleled Clinton’s in several ways. A southern Protestant seeking northern urban support, Carter had become involved in Irish republican events in New York City during the 1976 presidential campaign. Influencing the 1977 presidential statement were figures such as Edward Kennedy, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and John Hume; the statement also reflected a campaign, led by Dublin diplomat Sean Donlon, to move Irish America away from support for the IRA, and towards constitutional nationalism. Discussing Ireland with Carter in 1979, Senator Kennedy insisted that progress could be made only by excluding from any US-sponsored peace process the ‘pure negativism of Paisley and his faction’.61 The Carter line on Northern Ireland was continued during the Reagan presidency. Ronald Reagan, an Irish American on his father’s side, endorsed the activities of the (constitutional nationalist) Friends of Ireland, led by prominent Irish American senators. In the context of the hunger strikes of the 1980s and of the New Ireland Forum process, attitudes also began to shift in the State Department. Pressure from the White House seems to have been important in securing the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, with its acceptance of Dublin’s interest in the affairs of the North. Reagan endorsed congressional support for the International Fund for Ireland, set up in the wake of the 1985 Agreement, as well as new legislative measures designed to ease the extradition of IRA terrorists resident in the US.62

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Clinton’s Irish policy drew on these precedents from the Carter and Reagan years. It nevertheless represented a significant, qualitative shift of gear. The George H. W. Bush presidential years had been ones of caution, where official Washington essentially regarded the Irish conflict as ‘unripe’ for any peace-promoting American intervention.63 The Clinton team reassessed the Irish situation not only in the light of intelligence about changes of approach in the leadership of the IRA, but also in the context of the ending of the Cold War. The early 1990s was a period of flux for the US–UK Special Relationship, a time when the roots of the alliance – shared anti-Soviet security needs – were seeming to unravel. Clinton’s decision to intervene in Ireland significantly came in this period of apparent US–UK decoupling. Bill Clinton seized his opportunity to bring Adams in from the cold in 1994, to provide what the president from Hope saw as ‘tangible evidence that there would be a reward for the renunciation of violence and beginning to walk toward peace’.64 There can be little doubt about the historical importance of the 1998 Belfast Agreement. Nevertheless, it is worth reminding ourselves of its limitations, and also of the American role in attempting to nail the Agreement down in the final two years of Clinton’s presidency. The White House, of course, urged a ‘vote for peace’ in the post-Agreement referendum campaign and Northern Ireland assembly elections. By 1999, the Clinton administration was claiming the Good Friday Agreement as a foreign policy success, yet there were signs on the ground in Northern Ireland that continued Clinton activism on the issue was becoming counter-productive. The Omagh bombing of August 1998 dramatically indicated that violent republicanism had not been eliminated. The peace process was revealing an increasingly polarised political scene in the province. On the republican side, Sinn Fein’s newfound respectability had taken ground from the SDLP, while Ian Paisley was being seen by many loyalists as the authentic voice of Ulster unionism. Despite the pro-Agreement verdict of the referendum and assembly elections, mainstream unionists were becoming very squeezed. David Trimble seemed almost to have been hugged to death by Washington and London. With Trimble fearing the antiAgreement loyalist backlash, Bill Clinton was actually dissuaded by

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London from coming over in person to participate in the post-Agreement campaigns.65 A visit to Belfast at this time of extreme sensitivity for unionist politics would have exemplified the hubris one might associate with a potentially overreaching ‘active-positive’ president. As it was, Clinton’s post-Agreement visit to the province took place in September 1998, after a positive referendum result.66 Washington cooperated in security action against the ‘Real IRA’, perpetrators of the Omagh bombing, and continued directly to pressure the Provisional IRA to decommission weapons. George Mitchell remained very active, monitoring developments on decommissioning and conducting a review of the peace process between September and November 1999. The move towards actual devolution and the December 1999 setting up of a power-sharing executive were preceded by inter-party negotiations at Winfield House, London home of US ambassador Philip Lader. At this stage, with devolution at last on the horizon, Tony Blair invited Clinton to visit Belfast once more. Clinton’s December 1999 visit attracted large crowds but was considerably more fraught than his 1995 trip. The 1999 visit to Belfast was not greeted by any IRA action on decommissioning, and David Trimble actually walked out while Clinton was speaking in Belfast’s Odyssey Centre.67 Messy as they continued to be, political and social conditions in Northern Ireland had been transformed during the years of Clinton’s presidency, and almost entirely in a positive direction. How much was Washington entitled to claim credit for this? The evolution of republican thinking, from the John Hume-Gerry Adams dialogue of 1988– 1993 to the restoration of the IRA ceasefire in July 1997, is widely regarded as central. Other drivers of the peace train – including the effect of war weariness, the achievement of coordinated action between Dublin and London, and the visionary flexibility of David Trimble – have already been acknowledged. The key role of George Mitchell is evident. So Clinton’s involvement was not wholly responsible for the success of the peace process. Indeed, had it even been necessary at all? Paul Dixon argues that the effect of US pressure has been overstated.68 Washington in the 1990s probably exaggerated the importance of the American role; as indeed did the Blair government in its desire both to

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assert closeness to Washington and to exploit the pressurizing effects of the ‘pan-nationalist consensus’. Despite all this, the historical record of peace in Ireland will always assign a major role for the United States. The simple fact of an American president according priority to the affairs of the province could hardly (as Nancy Soderberg argued in the passage quoted at the start of this chapter) have failed to concentrate the minds of all involved in the Northern Irish conflict. The prospect of public and private American investment following a power-sharing ‘solution’ to the conflict, first officially held out by Jimmy Carter in 1977, was an element in the peace dynamic. Particularly in the aftermath of the Adams visa, the Clinton team consistently emphasized the potential for investment in the province. The White House website in 1995 drew attention to a series of commercial investment initiatives for the province, coordinated by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, as well as to ‘increased funding for the International Fund for Ireland to total $60 million over the next two years’.69 Following the signing of the 1998 Agreement, Clinton emphasised that during his telephone conversations with the various negotiators, ‘no specific financial assistance (was) sought, nor was any given’. Nevertheless, he pointed to, as he had since 1994, ‘the very significant economic benefits’ of peace.70 Conflict in Ireland created its own vested interests. Successful peace-promotion rested on persuasive dissemination of the idea that a better future, involving a breaking of old patterns of behaviour and self-interest, was feasible. As Clinton put it in 1998: ‘this question was painted on a Belfast wall: Is there life before death? Now at last, your answer is yes’.71 Clinton was an exceedingly powerful purveyor of hope for the province. By the latter part of 1998, his sponsorship of peace threatened to become counter-productive; for most of the 1990s, however, it provided necessary locomotive force for the peace train.

Clinton’s Activism in Ireland and Foreign Policy Ideology British interpretations of American activism towards Ireland have traditionally focussed on the power of the nationalist Irish American lobby, and on the presidential quest for votes in Irish America. There

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is no question that Clinton was responsive to pressure from powerful Irish American political interests, notably Edward Kennedy. However, the idea of Clinton being obsessed with a cohesive Irish American popular ‘vote’ is fanciful. Michael Mates, former Northern Ireland Secretary, wrote in 1996 of Clinton cynically ‘playing to the green Irish vote . . . Close to the President, there is this small group of advisers whose vote-winning agenda is not so much peace, as giving Irish Republicans what they want at almost any price’.72 Clinton, of course, was keen to glean political and electoral support where he could. Niall O’Dowd received calls from the Clinton White House ‘asking for the percentage of Irish-Americans in each state of the Union’.73 To ascribe the Clinton initiatives to the cynical wooing of Irish American votes, however, is implausible. Clinton was always eager to exploit opportunities for electoral benefit. His courting of East European ethnic group support for NATO expansion parallels the Irish case.74 But neither in the case of Ireland nor that of NATO expansion does votechasing constitute anything approaching a satisfactory explanation for the administration’s behaviour. Regarding both Ireland and NATO, the presidential investment, in terms of time and political capital, far exceeded any conceivable electoral benefit. By the 1990s – in actuality long before then – Irish America had outgrown the simple caricature that dominated the understanding of commentators such as Michael Mates. Irish America is a complex demographic category, whose members do not take their voting cue simply from issues directly connected to Ireland. It is true that Clinton’s stance on Ireland was domestically fairly risk-free. As we have seen, he was criticized for endangering good relations with London, but few domestic lobbies were upset by interventions which sought to secure ‘peace’ – especially in conditions which involved no prospect of American military intervention. Nevertheless, Clinton did not give Irish lobbies ‘what they want at almost any price’. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, the largest of Irish American organizations, strongly criticized Clinton’s stance on abortion. The Irish National Caucus, a Capitol Hill-oriented republican organization led by Father Sean McManus, severed links with Clinton over his lukewarm support for the MacBride principles.75

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US policy towards Northern Ireland has also been explained in geopolitical or even economic terms. We have already encountered Robert Fisk’s view that Clinton was seeking a settlement in Ireland which suited American geostrategic interests. During the Cold War, Enoch Powell regularly made the case that US Irish policy was essentially reducible to the desire to see Ireland united and inside the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.76 The point is also sometimes made that US economic investment, on favourable terms, in a peaceful Northern Ireland was attractive as a way of gaining entry into European Union markets; indeed George Mitchell often made this case before US business audiences.77 Clinton’s intense activism towards the tiny province of Northern Ireland cannot be explained in terms of the intrinsic geostrategic importance of Ireland, or by narrow commercial interest. However, it should be recognized that US foreign policy is inevitably, at least to some extent, designed to further US economic and strategic goals. It is the conclusion of this chapter that Clinton’s Irish policy should indeed be seen in the wider context of American post-Cold War foreign policy purpose as interpreted and understood in the Clinton White House. Clinton and his advisers lost few opportunities to place Irish policy firmly in the context of the administration’s wider foreign policy ideology. Speaking to the new Northern Ireland assembly in September 1998, President Clinton declared that in ‘our so-called modern world, from Bosnia to the Middle East, from Rwanda to Kosovo, from the Indian subcontinent to the Aegean, people still hate each other over the differences of race, tribe, and religion’. The people of Northern Ireland, according to Clinton, ‘have said only one dividing line matters – the line between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it’.78 He spoke off the cuff in Armagh City: ‘When I go to Israel and Palestine, I say, look at Northern Ireland; when I go to India and Pakistan and they are trying to sort out Kashmir, I say, look at Northern Ireland’.79 Irish activism was congruent with the Clinton post-Cold War ideology of internationalist peace-promotion. As Adrian Guelke recognized in 1996, the policy slotted into the role the Clinton administration ‘has sought to play in the resolution of other conflicts, as it has attempted to

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establish the basis for an outward-looking foreign policy after the end of the Cold War’.80 Contrary to charges that he lacked anything in the way of a coherent foreign policy vision, Clinton embraced an ideology of post-Cold War internationalist activism. More economics-oriented than his presidential predecessor’s New World Order, Clinton’s internationalism involved the development of America’s role as the global ‘indispensable nation’. It became increasingly committed to doctrines of globalized free trade; it also embraced the idea of the ‘democratic peace’ – the Kantian notion of trading, democratic nations co-existing in harmony. Clinton never achieved a satisfactory slogan for his post-Cold War foreign policy, though his administration made concerted and conscious efforts to develop one. The Clinton policy was a mixture of ‘democratic enlargement’, ‘enlargement and engagement’, humanitarianism and democracy-promotion, all set in the context of economic globalization. Clinton’s internationalism accepted limits on US power; the president from Hope was certainly a pragmatist, and administration spokespeople regularly disavowed any ‘starry-eyed crusade’ to spread liberal ideas. Northern Irish peace-promotion, as already noted, was relatively risk-free, and fitted well into the administration’s philosophy of pragmatic and selective engagement. Yet Clinton was a liberal internationalist. After the first term procrastinations over policy in the Balkans, he became cautiously committed to the view that the existence of ‘ancient enmities’ should not disbar successful Americanled adjudication of regional conflict. While Northern Ireland may seem tangential to the Clinton foreign policy ideology, it was in fact highly consistent with it. The Northern Irish ‘dividing line’ that Clinton spoke of in 1998 was essentially a dividing line between those committed to globalizing, marketised democratisation, and ‘rogue’ or ‘backlash state’ elements who refused to accept the lessons of the rapidly developing post-Cold War order. Power-sharing in Northern Ireland was a way of enhancing, even promoting, ‘democracy’, while ending the conflict had an obvious humanitarian dimension. The Irish settlement, as we have seen, was consciously interpreted by Clintonites like Nancy Soderberg as a template for even less tractable regional disputes involving ‘ancient enmities’. Seen in these terms, Clinton’s

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Irish policy was a central instantiation of the administration’s foreign policy ideology.81 Within this context, it is not difficult to discern the attraction of activism in Ireland to Clinton. According to the acutely accurate analyses made by the Clinton administration, peace was possible in the North of Ireland. In any case, intervention in Ireland would be diplomatic rather than military. Success could provide precedents and models for future, and more difficult, American interventions. As it turned out, US policy towards Northern Ireland represented the clearest example of successful pragmatic peace-promoting engagement during the entire Clinton presidency.

Notes 1. Soderberg, Nancy, The Superpower Myth: The Use and Misuse of American Might (Hoboken: Wiley and Sons, 2005), pp. 55–6. 2. Holland, Mary, ‘Irish notebook’, The Observer, 8 November 1992. 3. Hoggart, Simon, ‘Major put on hold as chill winds cross the Atlantic’, The Observer, 20 December 1992. 4. Editorial, ‘A yank in Ulster’, The Observer, 21 February 1993. 5. Clarity, J. F., ‘Clinton bars leader of IRA’s political wing’, New York Times, 12 November 1993. 6. Interview, ‘Ready to take giant steps’, Newsweek, 4 October 1993, p. 56. 7. O’Clery, Conor, The Greening of the White House (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1996), p. 90. 8. Mallie, Eamonn and David McKittrick, The Fight for Peace: The Secret Story Behind the Irish Peace Process (London: Heinemann, 1996), p. 280. See also O’Dowd, Niall, ‘The Awakening: Irish America’s Key Role in the Irish Peace Process’, in Marianne Elliott, ed., The Long Road to Peace in Northern Ireland (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007), p.75. 9. Flanagan, Thomas, ‘A glacier melts in Ireland’, New York Times, 16 December 1993. 10. Editorial, ‘Tell the truth about the IRA’, New York Times, 30 November 1993. 11. Soderberg: Superpower Myth, p. 72. See also Clinton, Bill, My Life (London: Arrow Books, 2005), p. 580. 12. Seitz, Raymond, Over Here (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1998), pp. 286, 289–91. 13. Flanagan, ‘A glacier melts in Ireland’.

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14. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton, 1994, vol. 2 (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office), p. 2129. 15. Mitchell, George J., Making Peace: The Inside Story of the Making of the Good Friday Agreement (London: Heinemann, 1999), pp. 26–7. 16. Godson, Dean, Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism (London: Harper Perennial, 2004), pp. 189, 190–91. 17. Quoted in Fortnight, 14 December 1995, p. 23. 18. Philpott, Ger, ‘Days like these’, Fortnight, 12 January 1996, p. 11. 19. Powell, Jonathan, Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland (London: The Bodley Head, 2008), p. 85. 20. Dixon, Paul, Northern Ireland: The Politics of War and Peace (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008), p. 255. See also Major, John, John Major: The Autobiography (London: HarperCollins, 1999), p. 486. 21. Branch, Taylor, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History in the White House (London: Simon and Schuster, 2009), p. 344. 22. Wilson, Andrew J., ‘From the Beltway to Belfast: the Clinton administration, Sinn Fein, and the Northern Ireland peace process’, New Hibernia Review 1/2 (1997), pp. 29–41, 36–7. 23. Mitchell, George J., ‘Towards peace in Northern Ireland’, in Elliott, ed., The Long Road to Peace in Northern Ireland, p. 91. 24. Campbell, Alastair and Richard Stott, eds., The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries (London: Hutchinson, 2007), p. 116. 25. Seldon, Anthony, Blair (London: The Free Press, 2004), p. 351. 26. Carlin, John, ‘A clear call to all the president’s Ulstermen’, The Independent on Sunday, 22 March 1998. 27. Cannon, Carl M., ‘When Clinton wasn’t boastful’, National Journal, 23 May 1998, pp. 1184–5. 28. Mowlam, Mo, Momentum: The Struggle for Peace, Politics and the People (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2002), p. 231. 29. Powell, Great Hatred, Little Room, p. 101. 30. Campbell and Stott, eds., The Blair Years, p. 297. 31. Powell, Great Hatred, Little Room, p. 104. 32. Cannon, ‘When Clinton wasn’t boastful’. 33. ‘Remarks by the President on the Northern Ireland peace process’, 10 April 1998, http://clinton5.nara.gov/WH/New/html/19980413–11395.html (Bill Clinton Presidential Library website) (accessed 24 June 2010). 34. Barber, James D., Presidential Character: Predicting Performance in the White House (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1985). 35. Schlesinger, Arthur, Jr., Journals, 1952–2000 (London: Atlantic Books, 2008), p. 853.

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36. Branch, The Clinton Tapes, p. 300. 37. Clinton, My Life, p. 401. 38. Ibid.; Clinton, Hillary R., Living History: Memoirs (London: Headline, 2003), p. 321. 39. O’Clery, The Greening of the White House, p. 49. 40. Fletcher, Martin, ‘How the Irish Troubles caught Oxford scholar’s imagination’, The Times, 9 December 1995. 41. Greig, G., ‘Why Clinton’s “Rhodies” hate Britain’, The Sunday Times, 27 February 1994. 42. Fletcher, Martin, et al., ‘US links with Britain “worst since 1773”’, The Times, 16 August 1996. 43. Seitz, Over Here, p. 322. 44. O’Clery, The Greening of the White House, p. 98. 45. Black, Ian, et al., ‘Britain blames Clinton’, The Guardian, 4 February 1994. 46. Walker, Martin, et al., ‘Fury at Clinton coup by Adams’, The Guardian, 10 March 1994. 47. Editorial, ‘Gerry and the peace-makers’, The Economist, 18 March 1995, p. 14. 48. Castle, Stephen and Paul Routledge, ‘Some hope’, The Independent on Sunday, 3 December 1995. 49. Fisk, Robert, ‘No use relying on Uncle Bill’, Fortnight, 14 January 1996, pp. 19–20. 50. Bew, Paul, ‘The President dodges another war’, The Spectator, 2 December 1995, pp. 16–17. 51. Powell, Great Hatred, Little Room, p. 118. 52. Campbell and Stott, eds., The Blair Years, p. 297. 53. O’Dowd, ‘The awakening’, p. 75. 54. Journalist Frank Millar saw Molyneaux as shifting his attitude towards US involvement following Clinton’s support for the Downing Street Declaration, with its principle of democratic consent: see Millar, Frank, ‘Unionist calm rests on trust in Major’, The Irish Times, 8 September 1994. 55. Watt, Nicholas and Audrey Magee, ‘Ulster is high on the Clinton agenda’, The Times, 7 January 1996. 56. Soderberg, The Superpower Myth, p.72. 57. Seldon, Blair, p. 362. 58. Coogan, Tim Pat, The Troubles (London: Hutchinson, 1995), p. 355. 59. Cronin, Sean, Washington’s Irish Policy, 1916–1986 (Dublin: Anvil, 1987), p. 291. 60. See Dumbrell, John, The Carter Presidency: A Reevaluation (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), pp. 130–41.

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61. Letter from Edward Kennedy to the President, 21 June 1979, box CO-64, White House Central Files: Subject File: Countries CO 167 (executive) (Jimmy Carter Presidential Library). 62. See, for example, Campbell, John, Margaret Thatcher: Volume 2: The Iron Lady (London: Pimlico, 2004), p. 434; Wilson, Andrew J., Irish America and the Ulster Conflict: 1968–1995 (Belfast: The Blackstaff Press, 1995), p. 255. 63. See Haass, Richard N., Conflicts Unending: The United States and Regional Disputes (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), chapter 6. 64. Quoted in Mallie and McKittrick, The Fight for Peace, p. 286. 65. Cannon, ‘When Clinton wasn’t boastful’. 66. A television company exit poll estimated that 99 per cent of Catholics and 51 per cent of Protestants in Northern Ireland supported the Agreement (Dixon, Northern Ireland, p. 273). 67. Powell, Great Hatred, Little Room, p. 184. 68. Dixon, Northern Ireland, p. 336. 69. ‘American leadership in the world – peace in Northern Ireland’, 1995, http:// clinton1.nara.gov/WH/Publications/html/briefs/v-5.html (Bill Clinton Presidential Library website) (accessed 8 July 2010). 70. As note 33. 71. ‘Remarks by the President to the Northern Ireland Assembly’, 3 September 1998, http://clinton4.nara.gov/WH/New/html/19980903–3317.html (Bill Clinton Presidential Library website) (accessed 23 June 2010). 72. Quoted in The Mail on Sunday, 23 August 1996. 73. O’Dowd, ‘The awakening’, p. 77. 74. See Asmus, Ronald D., Opening NATO’s Door: How the Alliance Remade Itself for a New Era (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), p. 80. 75. See Dumbrell, John, The Making of US Foreign Policy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), pp. 206–07. 76. For Enoch Powell’s view, see Parliamentary Debates, 6th Series, vol. 87, 27 November 1985, pp. 954–5 (debate on the Anglo-Irish Agreement). 77. See Spillane, M., ‘Northern exposure’, The Nation, 19 June 1995, p. 21. 78. As note 71. 79. Powell, Great Hatred, Little Room, p. 141. 80. Guelke, Adrian, ‘The United States, Irish Americans and the Northern Ireland peace process’, International Affairs, 72/2 (1996), p. 536. 81. See Dumbrell, John, Clinton’s Foreign Policy: Between the Bushes (London and New York: Routledge, 2009), pp. 41–50.

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8 THE AER IAL WAR IN KOSOVO ELPIDA KATSAVARA

On 24 March 1999 Bill Clinton participated in ‘Operation Allied Force’, an aerial war campaign conducted under the auspices of NATO against the Serbs in Kosovo. Though his handling of the operation has often been criticized in the scholarly literature, his policy in Kosovo was in fact a foreign policy success in the sense that it had the support of Congress;1 it produced a pleasing consensus amongst the key members of the administration; the operation did not result in any American casualties; and, in general terms, Clinton was energetic and effective in dealing with such a profound humanitarian crisis. This positive outcome was due to a sound decision-making structure and a mix of clear, coherent and efficacious strategies devised by Clinton and his advisers. In his first term as president, Clinton provided insufficient vision, leadership and organizational skill in dealing with international crises. With domestic policy – and the economy in particular – a priority, he handled foreign affairs in a minimal or reluctant manner. Unlike the case of Bosnia where Clinton acted tardily and appeared indecisive, especially during the disasters in Sarajevo and Srebrenica

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in 1995, in Kosovo Clinton championed a more pragmatic foreign policy style. A number of factors explain the course of action he adopted in Kosovo. For Clinton, involvement in the Kosovo crisis protected important US interests in the region, both strategic and humanitarian. His policy was also shaped by changes in his administration, differences with Congress, as well as by an international system characterized increasingly by a proliferation of ethnic and political conflicts within states. This chapter will examine the extent to which Clinton’s policy in Kosovo was driven by rational policy objectives. Beginning with a discussion of his foreign policy priorities and their inconsistencies early in his presidency in the cases of Bosnia and Haiti, this chaper will then explore Clinton’s policy towards Kosovo from the perspective of US relations with Belgrade, NATO member states and the international community in general.

Clinton’s Foreign Policy Priorities The end of the Cold War signalled the emergence of the United States as the sole superpower and the rise of intrastate conflict as the key mode of warfare of the 1990s. To cope with the threat of the proliferation of internal conflict the US sought to end ethnic and political wars that involved coups, human rights abuses or genocide. This commitment became stronger following the election of Clinton as president in 1992. Once in office Clinton promoted policies under the slogan of ‘assertive multilateralism’2 – an approach that emphasized the defence of human rights, the spread of democracy and the prevention of foreign conflicts.3 Indeed, as scholar Stephen Walt argues, one of the main objectives of Clinton’s foreign policy was ‘to focus on human rights and rely more on multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations.’4 Clinton’s active human rights policy was evident from his commitment to humanitarian operations such as those designed to prevent abuse of the ethnic minorities in Bosnia and Kosovo, and to defend the rights of the oppressed Haitian people from the repressive acts of its government.5 Anthony Lake, Clinton’s national security adviser, summarized

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the administration’s main objectives in his address to the Council of Foreign Relations in 1994: The United States has a particular interest in curbing gross abuses of human rights when they occur so close to our shores . . . Rather than throw up our hands in despair at the complexities of the post-Cold War era, we have thrown ourselves with determination into the fight against those who would deny people their human rights . . . We have thrown ourselves, in short, into the long struggle for democracy and the order it brings.6 Clinton’s initial approach envisaged democratic enlargement and engagement – in other words, the promotion of democracy around the world, most notably in the newly emerging former communist states still in transition to democracy such as Bosnia. The spread of democracy coincided with the enlargement of free market economies. As Anthony Dworkin argues, democratic enlargement meant that ‘the US would work to spread democracy, human rights and marketbased economies through peaceful negotiation and the expansion of free trade.’7 Anthony Lake, in a speech given at the Woodrow Wilson School in 1994, highlighted the importance for the United States of this sort of engagement with the world in the post-Cold War era: ‘We are participants, whether we would or not in the life of the world . . . The interests of all nations are our own . . . What affects mankind is irrevocably our affair.’8 An important element in the Clinton administration’s foreign policy philosophy was a greater willingness to intervene militarily for humanitarian and peaceful purposes; it was, as John Dumbrell calls it, ‘assertive humanitarianism.’9 Clinton and his advisers were committed to peacekeeping and any form of intervention undertaken in the name of human rights and state sovereignty.10 Peacekeeping was viewed by them as one of the key vehicles for enhancing US presence on the world stage. Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs Douglas Bennet, in his address before the UN Association at Princeton University, stated: ‘We have a stake in peace operations that contribute to a world that is less violent and more democratic

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than it otherwise would be.’11 However, all decisions to participate in peacekeeping operations by providing troops and supporting the United Nations were dictated by national interests and humanitarian concerns depending on the situation. As stated in the 1995 National Security Strategy for Engagement and Enlargement, the US approach to involvement in military operations was to be divided into three main categories: [cases which] involve America’s vital interests, i.e. interests which are of broad overriding importance to the survival, security and vitality of our national entity; . . . cases in which important but not vital US interests are threatened - that is the interests at stake do not affect importantly our well-being . . . ; [cases which] involve primarily humanitarian interests. Here, our decisions focus on the resources we can bring to bear by using unique capabilities of our military rather than on the combat power of military force.12 In Haiti and then Bosnia, however, Clinton and his advisers struggled to put these ideas into practice. The president faced great embarrassment following the return of the US navy ship Harlan County from Haiti, where it had been obstructed by a group of Haitian protesters and refused entry at Port-au-Prince harbour. Speaking in Congress on 18 May 1994, Timothy Lewis (R-Florida) described the Harlan episode as ‘the most embarrassing in the Clinton administration’s handling of the Haiti account.’13 The Dayton Peace Agreement in the case of Bosnia was also the result of a rambling policy, implemented during both the administration of George H. W. Bush and Clinton’s first term. Bush’s decision to recognize Bosnia as a sovereign state and to prevent Serbian aggression came too late.14 Early Western recognition could have prevented the outbreak of hostilities in Bosnia. An inexperienced Clinton was indecisive in responding to events in Bosnia during the first two years of his presidency.15 His decision to deploy troops in Bosnia had not been a key objective under ‘Operation Lift and Strike’ when US Secretary of State Warren Christopher toured

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Europe to sell the policy16 in May 1993. Christopher’s failure to persuade the Europeans to agree to the proposal coincided with a change in Clinton’s policy in Bosnia.17 Various theories have been advanced to explain Clinton’s incoherent policy in Bosnia. Some argue that US inaction in Bosnia was due mainly to Clinton’s weak political position in having to deal with congressional opposition to the deployment of US military forces in Bosnia.18 Others have emphasized Clinton’s lack of foreign policy experience;19 and others have highlighted the Clinton team’s inability to negotiate with the Western powers to help bring about a peaceful solution to the Bosnian problem.20 What was in fact of key importance was the lack of consensus between members of the administration in favour of a consistent policy in Bosnia; this adversely affected Clinton’s approach. Henry Kissinger, with some justification, called Clinton’s policy in Bosnia premature and, in terms of America’s political objectives, incoherent. He further argued that Clinton’s policy lacked clarity as to the ‘rules of engagement, the risks, and the duration of our commitment.’21 A clear and swift policy would have prevented the spread of hostilities and the number of casualties that mounted up until the signing of the Dayton agreement in 1995. This point was highlighted by Assistant Secretary of State and chief negotiator of the Dayton Peace Accords Richard Holbrooke. In his memoirs on the Balkan crisis he argues that if the Bush administration had acted sooner much of the humanitarian crisis in Bosnia would have been prevented.22 Whilst campaigning for the presidency in 1992, Clinton also criticized Bush for his apathy and inaction, 23 offering as an alternative a more vigorous policy in Bosnia through the use of force, the lifting of the arms embargo, and the fast negotiation of a peace settlement.24 Yet, when Clinton came to office in 1993, his rhetoric about lifting the arms embargo in Bosnia changed completely.25 Like Bush, he stepped back from the brink of military action. Though encouraging diplomatic talks with the Europeans so as to sustain the peace process, Clinton came to oppose military intervention because he feared placing American troops in harm’s way. As William Berman argues, Clinton began supporting ‘the same bleak options that earlier had confronted his predecessor [Bush].’26 Thomas

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Friedman made an insightful reference to Clinton’s shifting policy in Bosnia in a New York Times article: After coming into office proclaiming the need to take action against moral outrages in Bosnia, the Clinton administration has shifted gears and is now telling the American people that Bosnia is a quagmire about which little can be done. The Administration has gone from shaking its fist at the Serbs to throwing up its hands.27 Clinton confirmed his ‘hands-off’ policy (in placing ground troops) in Bosnia at a press conference with French President Francois Mitterrand on 9 March 1993. Clinton reaffirmed that there would be no possibility of the US using ground forces to bring Bosnian aggression to a halt: ‘I restated the position of the administration, which is now well known in the public; that we were opposed to the introduction of American ground forces to try to mandate an agreement or to in any way engage in the present conflict.’28 Instead of committing troops on the ground Clinton advocated a policy which called for the lifting of the arms embargo and the use of air strikes as part of a plan to curtail Serbian aggression. However, his plan was rejected by the international community. Following the failure of the US proposal to the Europeans for a ‘lift and strike’ strategy,29 disagreements within the administration persisted. Clinton’s UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright notes in her memoirs that one of the main factors behind the failure of the negotiations for lifting the arms embargo against Bosnia was the absence of a clear definition of the mission between and within the branches of government. These divisions became apparent when the European allies rejected the suggested plan. Albright recalls of that period, We could not hope to persuade others if we had not at least persuaded ourselves. At that stage, with a new President, a wary Secretary of State, a negative Pentagon, nervous allies, and crises in Somalia, then Rwanda and Haiti blowing up, we weren’t prepared to run the risks of leadership in Bosnia.30

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Scholar Warren Zimmermann argued along the same lines, noting that some US officials had reservations about lifting the arms embargo or providing troops. Some of the most prominent, like Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell, consistently objected to the deployment of US forces on the grounds that the conflict in Bosnia was a ‘complex situation’ which would require tens of thousands of troops and was an area where only limited US interests were at stake.31 In contrast, Clinton, Albright and Anthony Lake perceived the war to be in US national interests and so advocated a ‘lift and strike’ strategy that would have enabled the Bosnians to protect themselves while at the same time curbing Serbian aggression.32 Despite the inertia created by a lack of consensus for a clear US approach to Bosnia, Clinton finally felt compelled to take more decisive action following events in the summer of 1995.33 After the slaughter of thousands of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica on 6 July and the shelling of Sarajevo on 28 August, Clinton decided to launch a new initiative. Zimmermann argues that this was the moment when ‘the Clinton administration began to find its moral footing.’34 Albright notes that after Srebrenica Clinton’s ‘frustration had boiled over.’35 At a meeting with Albright and Lake, in which plans for a post-conflict Bosnia were discussed, Clinton declared, ‘We should bust our ass to get a settlement within the next few months. We must commit to a unified Bosnia. And if we can’t get that at the bargaining table, we have to help the Bosnians on the battlefield.’36 Clinton’s tougher policy towards Bosnia and the success of ‘Operation Deliberate Force’ in inducing the warring parties to negotiate a peace settlement culminated in an agreement in Dayton in November 1995 that involved the deployment of approximately 20,000 ground troops as part of a year long NATO peacekeeping operation.

Clinton’s Policy in Kosovo: Diplomacy and Force When the war in Bosnia ended in 1995, Holbrooke pressed the need for more US action and less rhetoric in future military situations:

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There will be other Bosnias in our lives, where early outside involvement can be decisive and American leadership will be required . . . Today America and its allies often seem too willing to ignore problems outside their heartland . . . The world will look to Washington for more than rhetoric the next time we face a challenge to peace.37 Holbrooke’s remarks were critical of Clinton’s inaction over Bosnia, which had contributed to a major war between three ethnic groups. As the only genuine ‘winner’ of the Bosnian war, which he had ended with a carefully crafted peace plan, Holbrooke highlighted the need for Clinton to become more active in solving humanitarian problems and not to depend solely on diplomacy. The Kosovo crisis became the test case for the Clinton administration; this time though, Clinton’s actions bore no resemblance to his involvement in these earlier crises. Even though Clinton’s negotiations with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, in the Kosovo case, started late, as with Bosnia, what merits considerable attention is Clinton’s decision to intervene in Kosovo under the auspices of NATO with the use of air strikes as part of a 78-day military plan. Hence the air war in Kosovo shows the change and maturation in Clinton’s foreign policy. Clinton’s decision to participate in an ‘aerial war’ against the Serbs in Kosovo in March 1999 came only after he had tried to negotiate a settlement with the assistance of US representatives in Belgrade and Kosovo. Moreover, his decision to use force was made only after lengthy discussions with his advisers and only after it had become clear that the war in Kosovo could spread into the neighbouring states, thereby posing a threat to US interests in the region. In one sense, military action was not a surprise as it had been discussed as an option by the Bush administration when the war broke out in Yugoslavia in 1992. In the initial stages of the war and during his final months in office, Bush had warned the Serbs that the US would intervene if they attacked Kosovo. He even made clear that any US intervention would involve air strikes: In the event of conflict in Kosovo caused by Serbian action, the United States will be prepared to employ military force against

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the Serbians in Kosovo and in Serbia proper . . . any US intervention would rely primarily on air power, including strikes at Serbian air bases, supply lines and other military installations.38 When the war in Bosnia broke out, the US in fact did not need to intervene as the international community had arranged for the presence of observers to be placed in Kosovo and in neighbouring republics to prevent any possible escalation of the Bosnian war. However, an actual controversy already existed between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo. Albright recalled that, ‘while the war in Bosnia boiled, Kosovo simmered . . . Kosovo was extremely tense but not at war. After the 1995 Dayton Accords were signed, however, the situation began to heat up.’39 After the war in Bosnia, the international community unwisely left Kosovo unprotected; and this misjudgement contributed significantly to the outbreak of the war that ensued. For three years the ethnic Albanians suffered attacks from the Serbs. When the conflict between the Serbs and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) intensified, the international community, led by the Clinton administration, began to seek a diplomatic settlement. Clinton’s participation in negotiations was significant. His advisers joined with the Balkans Contact Group, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), NATO and the UN in conducting talks with Slobodan Milosevic, the KLA and Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova. Albright, Secretary of Defense William Cohen and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger were engaged in continuous discussions with Milosevic in an attempt to find a peaceful settlement to the crisis. Long before the massacre at Prekaz in February 1998, Clinton and his advisers had used diplomatic means that would have restrained Milosevic from responding militarily against the KLA. During talks with Milosevic, US envoy to the region Robert Gelbart called for an end to the violent campaign and human suffering that threatened the stability of the region.40 However, Milosevic took the attack by the KLA as a signal to hasten the mass killing of ethnic Albanians in Drenica. Concerned about the escalation of the conflict into neighbouring states, Clinton sent Albright to a meeting

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held in London four days later, which had been organized by members of the European Union and Russia (known as the Contact Group). The meeting was hosted by British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook who made suggestions about how best to deter Milosevic’s brutal offensive. Disagreement rather than consensus prevailed amongst members of the Contact Group but a decision was finally reached, from which only Russia exempted itself, to impose a series of sanctions against Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) over the crisis in Kosovo. The Contact Group also agreed to launch a war crimes tribunal aimed at investigating possible violations of the laws of war by Serbia and the FRY. Despite the warnings made to Milosevic following the Contact Group meeting, violence continued to threaten Kosovo and the stability of the region in general. At the root of the Clinton team’s desire to resolve the Kosovo crisis was a determination to protect important national interests. Long before the intensification of the second phase of the Yugoslav war in Kosovo, they had emphasized the importance of Europe to the United States. In a statement before the House International Relations Committee on 9 March 1995, Holbrooke claimed that a continuation of the Yugoslav war would directly threaten US security interests.41 Albright also stressed US interests in Europe. Speaking at the Center for National Policy on 13 January 1998, she argued that though the war in Bosnia had ended the US could not abandon its interests in the region as it was the right moment for the United States to project itself as a leader in Europe, and because US involvement would enhance NATO’s position in the region, which in turn served American interests.42 Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott spoke along similar lines in a speech in Helsinki that same month, when he argued that it was in US interests to see a Europe ‘whole and free and at peace.’43 Following changes in the National Security Council after the 1996 presidential election, its members became more committed to an active role in European affairs, including the crisis in Kosovo. Albright was particularly important in pushing for a more dynamic US approach. In meetings with the Contact Group and with other Clinton advisers, she made the case that the US would have to use force against Serbia. It was a view which had not been taken seriously by her colleagues

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Anthony Lake and Warren Christopher during the early days of the Clinton administration. In Albright’s words, I’m tired of this. Every time someone talks about using force, they’re subject to ad hominem attacks. Five years ago, when I proposed using force in Bosnia, Tony Lake never let me finish my argument. Well, now I’m Secretary of State and I’m going to insist we at least have this discussion.44 This time, however, it proved to be an approach that won the support of many of her colleagues and most of America’s international partners.45 This idea of a more forceful approach was used as a threat by the US during negotiations over Kosovo, though only after it had become clear that there was no alternative but to plan military action. With the intensification of the conflict and the growing realization that it would take more than just rhetoric to restrain Milosevic, various countries began to regard NATO as the appropriate retaliatory instrument. Moreover, it suited Clinton and his advisers who had been advocating a more active and expanded NATO role in Europe. Sidney Blumenthal claims that ‘Kosovo would [have] tested this expanded Western alliance.’46 Yet, despite his administration’s desire to promote NATO involvement in the Kosovo conflict, the word ‘NATO’ did not appear in any of Clinton’s public addresses until his statement to the United Nations Security Council on 23 September 1999. Clinton’s reticence was due to his awareness that allies such as France and Germany believed that prior UN Security Council authorisation would be required to make NATO air strikes legitimate47 – especially since NATO, as in the case of Bosnia, had always used force only after receiving Security Council approval. Hoping to stop Serb attacks against ethnic Albanians, the Clinton administration employed a strategy of ‘coercive diplomacy’48 that relied on the threat of force; that threat was deemed necessary in case negotiations proved ineffective. This approach was adopted only after Clinton had received an assurance of support from NATO allies. Clinton thought ‘coercive diplomacy’ might succeed in Kosovo as

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essentially the same tactics had worked in Haiti, where he had managed to convince the leaders of the military regime to step down. In the case of Kosovo, it could be argued that ‘coercive diplomacy’ worked to the extent that there were signs of willingness, on Milosevic’s part, to negotiate. However, when it became evident that Milosevic was obstructing the international community’s efforts at finding a diplomatic solution to the problem of ongoing violence in Kosovo, Clinton decided to end all diplomatic efforts and to launch a major military operation involving NATO. From March 1998 until the launching of NATO’s military campaign a year later, Milosevic did indeed reject various peace overtures from the United States and the international community. The launch of NATO air strikes would signify the exhaustion of the possibilities of ‘coercive diplomacy’. Before that point was reached, Clinton moved step by step towards a more confrontational approach. On 9 June 1998 he signed an executive order outlining economic sanctions against Serbia and the FRY. Executive Order 130888 was adopted only after numerous attempts by the Contact Group to persuade Milosevic to comply with rules that would have prevented military action. Reporting to Congress on the situation in Kosovo on 10 June Clinton expressed his concern over the atrocities committed in Kosovo by Serbian police units and ‘Belgrade’s failure to meet crucial requirements concerning the adoption of a framework for dialogue with the Kosovar leadership and a stabilisation package as set out in meetings of the Contact Group.’49 As the atrocities in Kosovo continued and the number of displaced Kosovars rose, members of the Contact Group met again on 12 June. But despite the diplomatic efforts being made, Milosevic refused to meet the obligations imposed on him by the Contact Group. But the Contact Group enhanced its mandate by working closely with multilateral institutions, such as the UN and the OSCE, that pressured Milosevic to comply with their demands. The presence of a 15-person assessment team in Kosovo, before the start of NATO’s air campaign, facilitated the implementation of the agreement between the OSCE and the FRY on the Kosovo ‘verification mission’ that was responsible for ensuring the warring parties’ compliance with the Contact Group, OSCE and UN demands.50

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The UN contribution to the negotiation process, though, was shortlived. As the international community sought a peaceful solution to the problem of Kosovo, the United Nations adopted resolutions on the conflict there. However, Security Council members had disagreed on the precise course of action to be taken against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia. Still, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was involved in the negotiating process and assisted the Contact Group in ensuring that its demands were accepted by Milosevic. The March 1998 UNSC Resolution 1160 condemned the ‘use of excessive force by the Serbian police forces against civilians . . . [and] called upon the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia immediately to take necessary steps to achieve political settlement.’51 On 23 September 1998, the Security Council adopted resolution 1199, which confirmed that ‘the deterioration of the situation in Kosovo [constituted] a threat to peace and security in the region.’52 The UNSC further reaffirmed that in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter it expected the warring parties to ‘cease hostilities and maintain ceasefire in Kosovo.’ Lastly, the UNSC warned that if UN demands were not implemented it would take additional measures in order to restore peace in the region.53 Amongst Contact Group members there was much concern over what would happen if diplomacy and the threat of force did not work. Calls for military action against the FRY were repeated when the North Atlantic Council met on 30 April 1998 and issued a press statement on Kosovo that revealed, ‘NATO is working with its partners to make the best use of available tools to promote stability and security and is considering possible further measures.’54 Despite Russian and Chinese opposition, the US delegation replied with a more provocative statement that made clear US/NATO aerial intervention in Kosovo was a strong possibility. It is striking to recall that US and NATO officials treated the UNSC Res. 1203 on Kosovo as ‘a call for US/NATO shots’ against Milosevic. The Chief US Envoy at the United Nations Peter Burleigh declared during a UNSC meeting on the content of UNSC Res. 1203: ‘We must acknowledge that a credible threat of force was a key to achieving the OSCE and NATO agreements and remains key to ensuring their full implementation.’

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In Burleigh’s words, ‘The NATO allies in agreeing on 13 October to the use of force, made it clear that they had the authority, the will and means to resolve this issue. We retain that authority. We will not tolerate the continued violence.’55 US and NATO members had also interpreted UNSC Res. 1203 as a means to intervene in Kosovo on humanitarian grounds and to strike militarily against Milosevic if he did not comply with UN demands; and this view was embraced by Clinton and his advisers as the Kosovo situation deteriorated. In January 1999, following the massacre of over 40 ethnic Albanians in Racak, Clinton committed to the imposition of greater constraints on the FRY and to limited efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis. In a statement on the intensification of the situation in Kosovo, Clinton denounced the Serbian attacks: ‘I condemn in the strongest possible terms the massacre of civilians by Serb security forces . . . This was a deliberate and indiscriminate act of murder . . . it was a clear violation of the commitments . . . [that] Serbian authorities have made to NATO. There can be no justification for it.’56 The massacre in Racak also signified the breach of the agreement for a cease-fire that had been reached between Milosevic and diplomats after NATO’s meeting on 13 October 1998, and which had been initiated by US envoy Holbrooke.57 The Holbrooke agreement required the FRY to remove its police forces from Kosovo, allow a group of international observers to carry out the monitoring as specified in the agreement, and to permit all ethnic Kosovars to return safely to their homes without any obstruction from the Serbs.58 However, when the cease-fire was violated, many argued against the US decision to give Milosevic a second chance in bringing an end to the war. According to a New York Times article, the agreement with Milosevic was not about preventing further killings of ethnic Kosovars, but was a step towards protecting unarmed US personnel that had to position themselves on the ground to monitor compliance in accordance with the cease-fire agreement.59 It could be argued that US willingness to initiate talks with the FRY was due to domestic political factors: this approach was much debated in Congress, as was the use of US troops in Kosovo.

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After the events in Racak, the international community continued to employ diplomacy as a means to reconcile the two parties. But Milosevic refused to accept a political solution in negotiation with the KLA because it would have meant greater autonomy for Kosovo and the positioning of a NATO ground implementation force. Despite their threats of force, US officials and those from other countries made one last attempt to bring about a political solution in Kosovo. This effort led to talks at Rambouillet and in Paris in February 1999, during which demands were made for the end of the repression of Kosovo Albanians, greater autonomy for ethnic Albanians and the establishment of a NATO force as the primary guarantor of a peace settlement.60 Following these talks NATO pressured the FRY to accept the peace agreement. In a press statement NATO Secretary General Javier Solana stated, ‘We remain ready to use whatever means are necessary to bring about a peaceful solution to the crisis in Kosovo and to prevent further human suffering.’61 Nevertheless, the agreement at Rambouillet did not satisfy Milosevic. He remained recalcitrant and the war continued. On Clinton’s behalf Holbrooke attempted one last time to negotiate with both Milosevic and the Kosovar Albanians. Unsurprisingly, Milosevic rejected Holbrooke’s call for an end to the hostilities and the deployment of NATO forces in Kosovo.62 Hence, on 23 March 1999, NATO announced that the decision had been taken to use aerial force in Kosovo. The justification of NATO’s decision was based on Milosevic’s refusal to accept the demands outlined in the peace talks and the continuous repression of ethnic Albanians. Solana stressed the duty of the international community to stop the war spreading throughout the region and to put an end to the suffering of Kosovar Albanians.63 Clinton argued along similar lines: ‘We and our NATO allies have taken this action only after extensive and repeated efforts to obtain solution to the crisis in Kosovo. Kosovo’s crisis now is full-blown, and if we do not act, clearly, it will get even worse. Only firmness now can prevent greater catastrophe later.’64 Clinton insisted he would not permit the mistake that had been made over Bosnia, when ‘the world did not act early enough to stop that war,’65 to occur again. The war in Bosnia, he argued, taught the international community that ‘brutality simply invites more brutality, but firmness can stop armies and save

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lives. We must apply that lesson in Kosovo before what happened in Bosnia happens there, too.’66 On 24 March 1999 NATO launched air strikes against the Serbs in Kosovo. The aerial campaign, ‘Operation Allied Force’, would last seventy-eight days. It was a new kind of war, a ‘virtual war’ as Michael Ignatieff puts it.67 It was politically and legally a war campaign without precedent,68 as it involved aerial power and not ground troops. ‘Operation Allied Force’ began an effort that did not succeed in stopping Milosevic’s policies of ethnic cleansing. Though he treated NATO’s air strikes as an excuse to continue inflicting immense suffering and even genocide, Milosevic ultimately realized that NATO’s air strikes against the Serbian infrastructure and military camps compelled him to accept UN demands. It is worth noting that during the war the US and members of the international community did not altogether stop diplomatic contacts with Milosevic. In early June a special group of representatives from Finland and Russia met with Milosevic and warned him of the possible initiation of a ground war by the international community, led by the US.69 They also altered some of the previous demands made on Milosevic by NATO and the Contact Group, which helped gain Serbia’s support for a peace plan. On 9 June NATO members and the FRY signed the ‘Military Technical Agreement’ (MTA), which called for ‘the rapid, orderly withdrawal of all Serb forces from Kosovo and the deployment of an international security force, with NATO at its core, which means a unified NATO chain of command, so that Kosovars can return home safely.’70 The signing of the MTA agreement signalled the end of violence against and repression of the ethnic Kosovars, and enabled NATO to end its air-strikes campaign. The cessation of hostilities in Kosovo prompted the United Nations to adopt UNSC Res. 1244 aimed at establishing the Kosovo Force (KFOR) – a NATO-led peace enforcement operation charged with ensuring the full implementation of the MTA agreement and, more importantly, the provision of humanitarian support and assistance with the restoration of peace in Kosovo.71 Clinton’s policy in Kosovo has received some negative responses from critics. Scholar David Gibbs for instance was very critical of

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Clinton’s intentions in intervening in Kosovo. Gibbs put forward the argument that Clinton’s handling of the Kosovo crisis was motivated not by humanitarianism but by power concerns for dominance in the region.72 During the Kosovo crisis the US did seek to pursue and maintain a dominant role in the world as well as to exert power or influence in places where its interests were at stake.73 The Kosovo crisis offered to the US the opportunity to rebuild the reputation of the nation that had been damaged during the crises in Rwanda and Bosnia. However, US dominance in the region was not Clinton’s main purpose. Clinton felt compelled to intervene militarily in Kosovo to stop the gross violations of human rights committed by the Serbs against ethnic Albanians. Gibbs argues that Clinton’s moral purpose was a pretext to intervene militarily and further the US presence in the region. He maintains that there is evidence that shows that the Serbs were repeatedly attacked by Albanian political groups such as the KLA and that this forced them to retaliate.74 This, however, does not alter the fact that Milosevic was unwilling to engage in peace talks and agreements with diplomats but was prepared to order attacks and killings against ethnic Albanians. The massacre in Racak in January 1999 which ultimately triggered NATO intervention is a strong case in point. Gibbs further argues that Clinton’s military intervention in Kosovo under the auspices of NATO did not prevent Serbian atrocities but contributed greatly to their intensification.75 Undoubtedly, the Serbs retaliated when NATO occupied Kosovo but NATO’s presence was decisive enough to bring an end to the war, stop the continuous fighting between Serbs and ethnic Albanians, and to help thousands of misplaced ethnic Albanians return to their homes.

Character, Ideology and Leadership Clinton’s handling of the war in Kosovo reveals striking aspects about his character, ideological position, and his brand of leadership in comparison with other presidents. His character played a very important role in determining the resolute course of action he adopted. The war created a humanitarian crisis: there was a sharp increase in refugees and displaced Kosovars, as well as ‘crimes against humanity’. Clinton’s

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ethical sense was a key factor behind his decision to confront Milosevic by exhausting all diplomatic means, imposing economic sanctions and by using military force in order to prevent an escalation of the humanitarian crisis. Clinton’s moral sentiment was enhanced by a sense of regret over the failure of his administration to act decisively in previous wars (such as in Bosnia and Rwanda). Hence he did not want to be seen by the American public and the international community to be inactive as the humanitarian crisis deepened in Kosovo. He felt morally compelled to take tough action against the ethnic cleansing committed against Albanians. Clinton’s policy in Kosovo was one part of his overall approach to foreign policy. Central to his philosophy was the principle of ‘internationalism’: a willingness to intervene in places affected by war and political unrest. His main goal was to promote peace and stability.76 By creating stable nations around the world, Clinton believed he would enhance ‘market potential and social justice’ – two of his key foreign policy objectives.77 Another element in his thinking was his desire to rebuild a ‘transatlantic alliance’ that had been damaged by the crisis in Bosnia. Clinton’s interest in improving relations with European allies was linked to his commitment to building an expanded NATO and testing it in the war in Kosovo.78 Viewed in a historical perspective, Clinton’s handling of the war in Kosovo should be regarded as a notable success. His internationalist approach to involvement in crises in the Balkans differed considerably from the policies adopted by his predecessor, George Bush, whose handling of the Bosnia war, for instance, was marked by his inability to deal effectively with his European allies and to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Bush’s policies had the effect of damaging the Western alliance. Clinton, however, succeeded in strengthening NATO and in rebuilding relations with the Europeans; and this helped to end the war.79 Clinton’s ability to work with other nations in order to meet the challenge of the crisis in Kosovo and to bring about the defeat of Milosevic was impressive. The sort of effective leadership he provided became more apparent when he proposed to create a ‘stabilization pact’80 for restructuring and financing the Balkans. He came to be regarded by

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his European partners as the ‘first among equals . . . because of who and what he was, not only because of the country he represented.’81 The Europeans felt that Clinton was a president who understood well their political and economic problems. Winning the support of the Europeans, Clinton’s popularity reached its zenith when he received the Charlemagne Prize that celebrated his commitment to ‘European unity and progress.’82

Conclusion The Kosovo case provides important insights into Clinton’s foreign policy. When he became president in 1993, foreign policy was not a priority for the administration. Instead, Clinton concentrated on domestic issues such as restructuring the economy and reducing the deficit. However, Clinton and his advisers did produce an idealistic agenda for US foreign policy, such as working multilaterally through international institutions. The rationale for this change was to develop a safer and more peaceful world for all, a vision that proved difficult to realize. For example, the atrocities in Somalia and Rwanda, disagreements over the handling of the operation in Haiti and the procrastination over Bosnia – which culminated in the disasters of Sarajevo and Srebrenica – had a negative impact on Clinton’s reputation in international affairs. By the time of the Kosovo crisis, foreign policy had become a higher priority for Clinton. Due to the difficulties encountered in previous operations, he felt compelled to act more decisively in Kosovo. A consensus developed within his administration on how best to handle the situation, and this helped bring about a successful resolution of the Kosovo crisis. Clinton’s policy was based on a willingness to use both diplomacy and force. His determination to use force should diplomacy fail, coupled with his concern about countries blighted by violence and repression, underpinned Clinton’s effective leadership on Kosovo. The nebulous idealism that at first characterized Clinton’s early foreign policy was replaced by a more dynamic and pragmatic approach to international affairs in his second term. As his presidency unfolded, he dealt more effectively with his advisers, the international

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community, and with Congress. On Kosovo he succeeded in keeping his team united and in working constructively with Congress. In addition, he communicated well with the public, as he did consistently during the various crises that punctuated his presidency. It would be a major omission not to highlight the moral aspect of Clinton’s character that influenced the conduct of his policy in Kosovo. Other than national interests, Clinton argued that it was an ethical necessity for the US and the international community to work together in bringing an end to the suffering and killing of innocent Kosovars. In Clinton’s words, ‘Ending this tragedy is a moral imperative . . . Right now our firmness is the only hope the people of Kosovo have to be able to live in their own country without having to fear for their own lives.’83 There is no doubt that Clinton’s resolution was by far the most important factor in bringing freedom and independence to Kosovo.

Notes 1.

Pomper, Miles A., ‘Clinton Gains Support on Hill for Kosovo Campaign’, Congressional Quarterly Weekly, 17 April 1999, p. 905; ‘Members Rally Around Kosovo Mission Despite Misgivings About Strategy’, Congressional Quarterly Weekly, 27 March 1999, p. 763. 2. Berdal, Mats, ‘Fateful Encounter: the United States and UN Peacekeeping’, Survival 36/1 (1994), p. 32. 3. Clinton, Bill, ‘Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union’, American Presidency Project, 25 January 1994, http://www.presidency. ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=50409. 4. Walt, Stephen, ‘Two Cheers for Clinton’s Foreign Policy’, Foreign Affairs 79/2 (2000), p. 75. 5. Walt, ‘Two Cheers for Clinton’s Foreign Policy’, pp. 75–76. 6. Lake, Anthony, ‘The Purpose of American Power’, US Department of State Dispatch 5/38 (1994), pp. 625–26. 7. Dworkin, Anthony, ‘Chastened Hegemon’, Prospect, 20 April 2006, p. 3; Dumbrell, John, ‘Was There a Clinton Doctrine? President Clinton’s Foreign Policy Reconsidered’, Diplomacy and Statecraft 13/ 2 (2002), p. 49. 8. Lake, Anthony, ‘Engagement’, US Department of State Dispatch 5/49 (1994), p. 804. 9. Dumbrell, ‘Was There a Clinton Doctrine?’, p. 51.

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10. ‘The National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement’, White House, February 1995, p. 12, http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/nss/ nss-95.pdf. 11. Bennet, Douglas, Jr., ‘Peacekeeping and Multilateral Relations in US Foreign Policy’, US Department of State Dispatch 5/49 (1994), p. 811. 12. ‘The National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement’, White House February 1995, p. 12, http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/nss/nss-95. pdf. 13. Lewis, Timothy (R-Florida), ‘The President’s Misguided Policy on Haiti’, Congressional Record, 18 May 1994, p. H3667. 14. Zimmermann, Warren, ‘Yugoslavia: 1989–1996’, in J. R. Azrael and E. A. Payin, eds., US and Russian Policymaking with Respect to the Use of Force (Washington D.C.: RAND Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, 1996), p. 9, http://www.rand.org/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF129/CF-129.chapter11.html. 15. Fitzwater, Marlin, Bush’s White House spokesman, expressed his doubts about Clinton’s ability to manage national security matters. When Clinton, while he was campaigning for President, urged Bush to use multilateral airstrikes for assisting with the delivery of humanitarian aid to Bosnian Muslims, Marlin Fitzwater called Clinton ‘reckless’. See ‘Administration Struggles with Bosnia Policy’, Congressional Quarterly Almanac XLIX (1993), p. 494. 16. Silber, Laura and Little, Alan, The Death of Yugoslavia (London: Penguin Books, 1996), p. 287. 17. Zimmermann, ‘Yugoslavia: 1989–1996’, p. 11. 18. Hamilton, Lee, (D-Indiana), ‘Impact of Congressional Power shift on Foreign Policy’, Interviewed by USIA Staff Writer Ralph Dannheisser, USIA US Foreign Policy Agenda 1/ 9 (July 1996), pp. 1–4. 19. Blumenthal, Sidney, The Clinton Wars: An Insider’s Account of the White House Years (London: Penguin Books, 2003), pp. 62–63. 20. Daalder, Ivo H., Getting to Dayton: The Making of America’s Bosnia Policy (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2000), p. 2. 21. Kissinger, Henry, ‘The United States Mission in Bosnia-Extension of Remarks’, Congressional Record, 22 October 1995, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgibin/query/F?r104:7:./temp/~r104htBU8N:e280:. 22. Holbrooke, Richard, To End a War (New York: Random House, 1999), pp. 361–2; see also Holbrooke: To End a War, Online NewsHour: Conversation with Richard Holbrooke, 19 May 1998, www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/bosnia/ jan-june98/holbrooke_5–19.html . 23. Zimmermann: ‘Yugoslavia: 1989–1996’, p. 11, http://www.rand.org/pubs/ conf_proceedings/CF129/CF-129.chapter11.html.

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24. Daalder, Getting to Dayton, p. 6. 25. Berman, William C., From the Center to the Edge: the Politics and Policies of the Clinton Presidency (Boston: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), pp. 36–37; see also Zimmermann, ‘Yugoslavia: 1989–1996’, pp. 8–11. 26. Berman, From the Center to the Edge, p. 37; Zimmermann argues along similar lines that Clinton’s policy in Bosnia ‘lapsed into the familiar pattern of rhetorical toughness accompanied by an unwillingness to use force.’ See Zimmermann: ‘Yugoslavia: 1989–1996’, p. 11; see also ‘Administration Struggles with Bosnia Policy’, Congressional Quarterly Almanac XLIX, (1993), p. 493. 27. Friedman, Thomas, L., ‘Bosnia Reconsidered: Where Candidate Clinton saw a Challenge the President Sees an Insoluble Quagmire’, New York Times, 8 April 1993, p. 1.; see also Berman, From the Center to the Edge, p. 237; see also ‘Administration Struggles with Bosnia Policy’, Congressional Quarterly Almanac XLIX (1993), p. 493. 28. Clinton, Bill, ‘Bosnia’, The President’s News Conference with President Francois Mitterrand of France, American Presidency Project, 9 March 1993; see also ‘Administration Struggles with Bosnia Policy’ Congressional Quarterly Almanac XLIX (1993), p. 494; see also Daalder, Getting to Dayton, p. 7. 29. Sneider, Daniel, ‘Yeltsin Stands with West, Warning Serbs of Rebuff’, Christian Science Monitor, 28 April 1993, p. 18. 30. Albright, Madeleine, K., ‘Horror in the Balkans’, in M. K. Albright and B. Woodward, eds., Madam Secretary: A Memoir, (London: Macmillan, 2003), p. 181. 31. Ibid., p. 182; see also Zimmermann, ‘Yugoslavia: 1989–1996’, p. 12. 32. Albright: ‘Horror in the Balkans’, p. 180; this view was widely supported in Congress. See for more details ‘UN Peacekeeping Proves Risky: Congress, Clinton administration grow cautious about providing troops for multinational efforts’, Congressional Quarterly Almanac XLIX (1993), pp. 483–501; see p. 483 and pp. 493–494. 33. Berman, From the Center to the Edge, p. 57. 34. Zimmermann, Warren, Origins of a Catastrophe: Yugoslavia and its Destroyers (New York: Random House, 1999), pp. 231–2. 35. Albright, ‘Horror in the Balkans’, p. 189. 36. Ibid., p. 190. 37. Holbrooke, To End a War, p. 372. 38. Goshko, John M., ‘Bush warns Serbs: US Ready to Intervene’, Chicago SunTimes, 29 December 1992, p. 3; see also Mutch, David, ‘Events’, Christian Science Monitor, 29 December 1992, p. 2; see also Albright, ‘Horror in the Balkans’, p. 379.

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39. Albright, ‘Horror in the Balkans’, p. 380; see also Malcolm, Noel, Kosovo: A Short History (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998), p. 353. 40. Dinmore, Guy, ‘Kosovo Conflict may spread in Balkans; US Envoy to discuss Albanian Unrest’, Financial Times, 9 January 1998, p. 3; see also ‘US Envoy Begins Kosovo Mission’, The White House Bulletin, 10 March 1998. 41. Holbrooke, Richard, ‘Advancing US Interests in Europe’, US Department of State Dispatch, 12, 9 March 1995, p. 209. 42. Albright, Madeleine, ‘1998: A Year of Decision in American Foreign Policy’, US Department of State Dispatch, 1, 13 January 1998, pp. 5–8; see also Albright, ‘Horror in the Balkans’, p. 396. 43. Talbott, Strobe, ‘Opening Doors and Building Bridges in the New Europe’, US Department of State Dispatch, 1, 21 January 1998, p. 9. 44. Albright, ‘Horror in the Balkans’, pp. 383–4. 45. See http://secretary.state.gov//www//statements/1999/990726b.html; see also remarks by Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Kosovo in Albright, ‘Horror in the Balkans’, pp. 396–7. 46. Blumenthal, The Clinton Wars, p. 635. 47. Aybet, Gulnur, ‘NATO’s Developing Role in Collective Security’, SAM PAPERS, 4 (1999), p. 3. 48. George, Alexander, Forceful Persuasion (Washington, DC: US Institute for Peace Press, 1994), p. 6. 49. Clinton, Bill, ‘Message to the Congress Reporting on the Situation in Kosovo’, American Presidency Project, 10 June 1998. 50. Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Permanent Council, 156th Plenary Meeting, PC Journal, 156, PC.DEC/218, 11 March 1998, http://www.osce.org/documents/pc/1998/03/20522_en.pdf . 51. UNSC Res. 1160, 3868th Meeting, S/RES/1160, 31 March 1998, p. 1, http:// www.un.org/Docs/scres/1998/scres98.htm. 52. UNSC Res. 1199, 3930th Meeting, S/RES/1199, 23 September 1998, p. 2. 53. Ibid., p. 5. 54. North Atlantic Council, ‘Statement on the Situation in Kosovo’, Press Release 98/51, 30 April 1998, http://www.nato.int/docu/pr/1998/p98–051e.htm. 55. UNSC/PV.3937, 24 October 1998, p. 15. 56. Clinton, Bill, ‘Statement of the Situation in Kosovo’, American Presidency Project, 16 January 1998. 57. See for a discussion of the unsuccessful agreement Crawford, Timothy W., ‘Pivotal Deterrence and the Kosovo War: Why the Holbrooke Agreement Failed’, Political Science Quarterly 116/4 (Winter, 2001–2002), pp. 499–523. 58. Perlez, Jane, ‘Milosevic Accepts Kosovo Monitors, Averting Attack’, New York Times, 14 October 1998, p. 1.

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59. Sheidelman, Russell, ‘Saving Kosovo lives, Or US Skins?’, New York Times, 15 October 1998, p. 30. 60. NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, ‘Statement on the Outcome of the Rambouillet Talks’, Press Release 99/21, 23 February 1999, http://www.nato. int/docu/pr/1999/p99–021e.htm; see also Clinton, Bill, ‘Statement on the Peace Talks at Rambouillet’, American Presidency Project, 23 February 1999, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=57148&st=&st1=; see also Allen, Douglas, ‘Humanitarian Intervention: The US-NATO Domination’, Philosophy and Social Action 26 (Jan/Jun 2000), p. 96; Albright, ‘Horror in the Balkans’, p. 397; Leurdijk, Dick and Zandee, Dick, Kosovo: From Crisis to Crisis (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001), pp. 47–48. 61. Solana, ‘Statement on the Outcome of the Rambouillet Talks’. 62. Albright, ‘Horror in the Balkans’, p. 407; Blumenthal, The Clinton Wars, p. 637. 63. Albright, ‘Horror in the Balkans’, p. 407. 64. Clinton, Bill, ‘Remarks Announcing Air strikes against Serbian targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)’, American Presidency Project, 24 March 1999, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index. php?pid=57299&st=&st1=; see also Clinton, Bill, ‘Address to the Nation’, American Presidency Project, 24 March 1999, p. 1, http://www.presidency.ucsb. edu/ws/index.php?pid=57305&st=&st1=. 65. Clinton, ‘Address to the Nation’, p. 2. 66. Ibid., p. 2; see also ‘NATO Chief: No Repeat of Bosnia’, Telegraph Herald, 3 July 1998, p. 7. 67. Ignatieff, Michael, Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond (New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2000), p. 4. 68. Ibid., p. 4. 69. Albright, ‘Horror in the Balkans’, pp. 419–420. 70. Clinton, Bill, ‘Statement on the Military Technical Agreement on Kosovo’, American Presidency Project, 9 June 1999, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ ws/index.php?pid=57703&st=&st1=; for more details of the agreement see http://www.kforonline.com. 71. UNSC Res. 1244, 4011th Meeting, S/RES/1244, 10 June 1999; see also Nardulli, Bruce, et al., Disjointed War: Military Operations in Kosovo, 1999 (Santa Monica, Ca.: Rand, 2002), p. 99. 72. Gibbs, David N., First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2009), p. 191. 73. Ibid., pp. 172–174. 74. Ibid., pp. 181, 191. 75. Ibid., p. 198. 76. Blumenthal, The Clinton Wars, p. 642.

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Ibid., pp. 642, 635. Ibid., p. 635. Ibid., p. 635. Ibid., p. 653. Ibid., p. 653. Ibid., p. 655. Clinton, Bill, ‘Address to the Nation on Airstrikes Against Serbian Targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)’, American Presidency Project, 24 March 1999, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index. php?pid=57305&st=&st1=.

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9 COURTING THE HOLLY WOOD FILM INDUSTRY MARK WHEELER

Introduction Throughout Bill Clinton’s presidency strong bonds were formed between the Hollywood film community and the White House.1 In particular, Clinton’s New Democrat economic policies facilitated opportunities for the United States’ film industry to enjoy significant growth. During his presidency, the Hollywood film industry became part of the global media economy as worldwide media conglomerates controlled the studios and expanded their interests across a range of content-driven communication services. Moreover, Clinton’s relationship with Hollywood reflected the tacit support that US governments had given to the film industry as it is an exporter of US product and helps to stem the nation’s balance-of-payments deficit – as Hollywood films advertise US goods abroad through their focus on American products, and as these movies present American values and cultural artefacts to an international audience.

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This closeness between Hollywood and Clinton was fostered by a long-standing relationship that had developed between the film industry’s leaders and the Democratic Party. The predominantly liberal bias in the US film community had emerged in the wake of the House Un-American Activities Committee’s anti-Communist investigations in the 1940s and 1950s. More specifically, Hollywood had become a lucrative fundraising stop for Democratic candidates since the 1960s. This financial linkage began when the head of the Music Corporation of America (MCA), Lew R. Wasserman, organized $1,000-a-plate dinners with business leaders and industry figures for President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and for his successor Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 presidential campaign.2 In turn, Clinton benefited from the ascendancy of a new generation of key players within Hollywood’s permanent governance in the 1980s. He received support from a group of film executives such as Mike Medavoy and Dawn Steel and stars including Barbra Streisand and Richard Dreyfuss collectively known as the ‘Friends of Bill’ (FOB). Subsequently, other industry players such as Wasserman, Sid Sheinberg, David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg contributed funds to Clinton’s presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996. The films made during the 1990s, moreover, revealed the changing nature of Hollywood’s perception of Clinton. In his first term, when Clinton was seen as a Washington outsider, the films presented a populist view of the chief executive. Yet, as Clinton became compromised and scandalized in his second term by his sexual behaviour, the Hollywood film community became critical in a range of more cynical political thrillers and comedies. This essay, therefore, will employ an interdisciplinary approach, examining economic, political and cultural factors to explore the relationship between Clinton and Hollywood. It will utilize these forms of analysis to look more generally at Hollywood’s relationship with Washington and to consider how this linkage was representative of a wider set of issues which defined the American polity during the Clinton era.

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Clinton, Corporate Interest and the Hollywood Film Trade During Clinton’s presidency, the transformation of Hollywood from a trans-national film industry into a global business (which had begun when Ronald Reagan’s administration abolished the 1948 Paramount decrees concerning the anti-competitive links between production, distribution and exhibition) occurred as multi-national media conglomerates bought the major studios. Throughout the 1990s, Washington supported Hollywood as the copyright industries grew to have a combined worth of $400 billion per annum or 6 per cent of the US’s total annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Under the Clinton administration, they became the largest exporters of American products and the surplus of profits produced by the international film trade aided the US’s balance-of-payments deficit. By the end of his presidency in 2001, the foreign sales and exports of the combined US copyright industries stood at an estimated $88.97 billion per annum.3 In this way, the US film industry tied in with the Clinton administration’s view of the national economy as a corporate entity which conformed to the needs of international capital. This position reflected Clinton’s centrist philosophy that had been influenced by the Democratic Leadership Council, which he had chaired before becoming president. These values accorded with a process of ‘government to governance’ which saw the withering of the state as the US polity evidenced a greater reliance on the deregulation of public services and on private solutions to welfare provision.4 They also defined Clinton’s foreign policy agenda of trade expansion through soft power, and Hollywood’s role as a leading exporter of US product fitted in well with this viewpoint. Thus, the Clinton administration perceived the audiovisual industries as being shaped by corporate expansion, allowing them a first-mover advantage within the globalization of the burgeoning Information Communications Technologies (ICTs): In response to a question about American economic power [Clinton] answered, ‘the reality is that I believe we live in an inter-dependent world.’ A world, in other words, where

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you must work with the power players in society in order to succeed. In Hollywood this approach led Clinton into relationships of mutual reward with the new concentrated corporations.5 Consequently, through its passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the Clinton administration removed many cross-media ownership rules and created a new phase of vertical integration within film production, distribution and exhibition. In the latter half of the 1990s, a series of mergers turned the American communications economy into an industry dominated by multi-national conglomerates that controlled Hollywood. A benefit of conglomeration was that the risks in producing a motion picture could be spread over the whole company. Therefore, the majors – Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Universal, Disney/Buena Vista and Columbia-Tri Star – remained at the forefront of the US film industry and became owned by even larger parent conglomerates. For instance, in 2000 Warners became the profit-making constituent of the world’s largest media company, AOL/ Time-Warner, which was proclaimed as the first ‘internet verticallyintegrated content provider.’6 To achieve profitability, the Hollywood studios invested in blockbusters made costly by star salaries, saturation release patterns, marketing and promotion campaigns. Consequently, for a film to be profitable it needed to succeed through a range of domestic, foreign and ancillary markets such as Digital Versatile Discs (DVD) and television on-demand. As they benefited from the size of their domestic market, the Hollywood studios renewed their efforts through their international distribution arms to sell their films in a wider foreign market place, most especially the burgeoning Asian states. According to Hollywood’s trade body, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), in the 1990s the distribution of US film abroad constituted 42 per cent of the industry’s revenues.7 In the case of the most profitable film of the decade, Titanic (1997), its international box office accounted for $1.234 billion of its income compared to $600 million in domestic returns.

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Foreign Film Markets and Trade Liberalisation: the 1986–94 Uruguay Round of the GATT Multilateral Negotiations Hollywood’s relationship with Washington was further defined by the way the international film trade aided US exportation of tradable goods. This exploitation of the global film market-place was the apotheosis of the cross-fertilization of the Clinton administration’s view of a market-led creation of wealth with Hollywood’s corporate values. In parallel, it brought into focus the contradictory nature of the cultural industries within international markets in terms of protectionism, political values and matters of identity. As president of the MPAA from 1966 to 2004, Jack Valenti demanded the removal of trade barriers from foreign chanceries and film associations. He fulminated against those countries that inflicted curbs on the US motion picture industry through the imposition of film quotas and subsidies.8 He led the international arm of the Motion Picture Association (MPA), colloquially known as ‘the little State Department’, in more than 80 negotiations to liberalize the international film and broadcasting markets. In 1997, this enabled the copyright industries to return more than $3.5 billion in surplus balance of payments to the US economy.9 These issues would become conspicuous in the European film and audiovisual markets when Jurassic Park was released in France in 1993. Its outstanding success at the French box office brought attention to the paucity of funding in European cinema and the US’s domination of the regional box office. Valenti’s response was to accuse Old World financiers of being unprepared to invest in a venture capitalist industry and to argue ‘a subsidised industry will never be a global industry because you have got to have a free marketplace and you’ve got to have private [finance] going in there’.10 The film’s release also coincided with a dispute between the US and the European Union (EU) during the 1994 General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) multilateral negotiations over the requirements of trade. This disagreement made evident two diametrically opposed views of culture and market society.

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For the first time in its history, the GATT negotiators combined the liberalization of services with the liberalization of goods, and the audiovisual sector was included within the multi-lateral trade negotiators’ remit. Yet, because of their neoclassical ideological principles, they failed to realize how the inclusion of a cultural sector, with its attendant national values, would impact on the multilateral agreements which had previously been limited to international trading of goods over services.11 Therefore, as they had paid scant attention to audiovisual services through the eight years of negotiation, this omission led to a nearly disastrous set of consequences for the Uruguay round of the GATT.12 In a protracted debate between the US and EU, led by France, difficulties emerged in defining the cultural dimensions of audiovisual services, most especially with regard to national film subsidies and quotas. For the US government and the MPA, with the globalization of communication outlets, greater revenues could be generated for the American film industry through the removal of barriers on their film exports. To this end, Valenti pursued a liberal view of market economics and their relationship with cultural products: ‘Why this EC quota? Its defenders, those who would build the siege wall claim “Our culture is at stake!” Can this be true? Is a thousand, two thousand years of an individual culture to collapse because of the exhibition of American TV programmes?’13 Through the close relations he had established with successive presidential administrations, Congress, the State Department and the Office of Trade Representative, Valenti secured the backing of the US government in his calls for the liberalization of international film trade.14 The importance of Hollywood to the US government became apparent when Clinton telephoned German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur to tell them he would not back down over the audiovisual industry.15 Some European states, notably France, opposed the American position, arguing the unique cultural nature of films made them quite unlike any other internationally traded services. French officials insisted on their right to protect their film and television industries through the continuation of a complex series of subsidies and quotas.

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At the 1993 Venice Film Festival French Cultural Minister Jack Lang suggested the cinema and broadcasting sectors should be excluded from GATT, thereby protecting these vital national cultural industries from a flood of American films.16 The standoff created a critical debate between the American GATT negotiator Mickey Kantor (a Clintonian Democrat and Californian lawyer with close links to Hollywood), the French Cultural Minister Jacques Toubon (who had succeeded Lang) and the EU, led by the lessthan-enthusiastic European Commissioner Leon Brittan. Eventually, these delegations were brought together for one final meeting so the GATT negotiations could be finalized by the self-imposed deadline of 15 December 1993. This meeting became so tense that Kantor gave Clinton an ultimatum: either the US would have to back down or the whole GATT edifice would unravel over the audiovisual sector. Having sought advice from Lew Wasserman, Clinton relented to stem a trade war. Accordingly, the European audiovisual sector was exempted from 33 Most Favoured Nation (MFN) clauses, with an additional 13 MFN exemptions applying to all service sectors, allowing room for manoeuvre.17 Despite an acrimonious response from the US negotiators and jubilation from the Europeans, and the French in particular, a compromise was reached in which neither side had achieved victory. The US had failed to ‘liberalize’ the European film and television industries, while the Europeans had not been able to win a lasting ‘cultural exemption’ from GATT. Instead, the result was a draw and the battle had been put off for another day.18

Clinton and the Hollywood Lobby Throughout the tense GATT negotiations, Clinton’s affiliation with Wasserman proved key in preventing the near-collapse of the multilateral trade agreements. And his relationship with Wasserman was emblematic of the close relations he had developed with the Hollywood establishment with the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. This legislation facilitated a new phase of corporate development for the media combines that owned the Hollywood studios.

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Clinton made a priority of protecting the industry from right-wing attacks over the excessive representation of sex and violence in motion pictures. He opposed conservative attempts to introduce formal state censorship and maintained the voluntary rating codes for the industry’s self-regulation of content in line with the First Amendment. Clinton also argued that technological innovations such as a ‘V-chip’ would enable parents to make judgements concerning the screening of potentially objectionable material.19 For its part, the Hollywood establishment provided Clinton with substantial financial contributions and celebrity endorsements. This was important to Clinton as he understood that the support of film stars allowed him to appeal to a wider range of constituencies within the American electorate. Most especially, Clinton benefited from the ascendancy of a new generation within the Hollywood Democratic political elite which had backed liberal Senator Gary Hart in the 1984 and 1988 primaries. After a sex scandal derailed Hart’s 1988 presidential bid this power base in Hollywood turned its attention to Clinton. Hence he received support from the ‘Friends of Bill’ (FOB), including film producer Mike Medavoy, Columbia Chief Dawn Steel, television producers Norman Lear and Harry Thomason, and stars such as Streisand and Richard Dreyfuss. They agreed with his centrist New Democratic values concerning fiscal responsibility and social liberalism, and believed as president he would protect their interests with regard to their Jewish heritage, environmental matters, multi-culturalism, health care, abortion and gay rights. They were attracted, moreover, to Clinton’s charisma, rigorous intellect and his avowed desire to be a participant in the entertainment elite.20 Since the late 1980s, Clinton’s long-term friends, the Arkansasborn Thomason and wife Linda Bloodworth Thomason, had hosted a series of informal receptions to introduce him to the Hollywood community. Despite some resistance, the persistent FOBs helped to turn a relatively unknown governor of Arkansas into a recognized player on the national scene: Long before Clinton was even on the national radar as a presidential candidate, I [Medavoy] set up a dinner for him to meet some of the

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entertainment community . . . At the time Clinton was head of the Democratic Leadership Council and the presidency was a distant dream . . . Not everyone was convinced, but I kept pushing . . . Clinton and I kept in touch, and in September 1991 . . . he called me . . . (as) . . . he wanted to meet with me and some supporters to discuss his run for the White House. It was clear to him that we would be able to bring money and glamour to the campaign, both of which are crucial to political success in our media-centric age.21 Beginning in late 1991, when Clinton announced his candidacy, the Thomasons ran several modest fundraisers to increase his standing in the film community. These events enabled him to win the support of their television colleagues, including the actors from Thomasonproduced shows such as Designing Women and Night Court. By spring 1992, film stars such as Chevy Chase and John Ritter had come on board. By the time he clinched the Democratic nomination Clinton enjoyed a support unequalled from Hollywood since the days of JFK. In September 1992, the entertainment community bestowed its ‘formal blessing’ on his candidacy by hosting a $1 million fundraiser at the Los Angeles estate of producer Ted Fields. The Hollywood elite, including Dustin Hoffman, Annette Bening, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito, basked in Clinton’s attention. In particular, he benefited from the endorsement of two heavyweight Hollywood political hitters: Streisand and Warren Beatty. In his own remarks Clinton charmed the assembled stars: Describing the audience members as ‘some of the most gifted, creative and caring Americans in the country,’ Clinton spoke words that were music to their ears: ‘I want you to be part of the administration – not just part of the campaign.’ By the end of the evening, when the Clintons, Jack Nicholson, and others on the A-list repaired to Streisand’s home for a postparty reception, Bill Clinton had Big Hollywood in the palm of his hand.22

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During the presidential campaign against the incumbent George H.W. Bush, the music impresario David Geffen bankrolled Clinton’s warchest, which had a deficit of $1 million. For the homosexual Geffen, Clinton promised to represent gay rights and became one of his closest friends. In tandem with Geffen, Streisand hosted a $1.5 million Beverly Hills fundraiser which was broadcast by satellite to New York, Washington, Atlantic City and San Francisco. Clinton developed close relations with other executives and filmmakers, such as Mike Ovitz, Peter Guber and Steven Spielberg. As his political star rose, Clinton was shrewd enough to charm Wasserman who, in his last major act of campaign funding, organized a $10,000-a-couple dinner, raising $1.7 million. He built on a friendship with Wasserman which began in 1986 when he had quizzed him about the possibilities of locating film productions in Arkansas. While Wasserman had been curt in his response to Clinton’s query, he had been impressed by the young governor. After a forty-five minute discussion he asked his assistant Sean Daniel ‘if there’s a picture we could shoot down there?’23 In the end, Mike Nichols’ army comedy Biloxi Blues was shot in Arkansas in 1987. This initial contact marked the beginning of a warm relationship between Clinton and the ‘Last Mogul’.24 Wasserman remarked, ‘I am crazy about him. . . . If you are going to get me going on the subject of Bill Clinton, I’ll sound like a love struck teenager.’25 Although Wasserman’s power had waned when he lost control of MCA he remained a pivotal figure due to his political connections and wealth of strategic knowledge. Later Wasserman would help Clinton to raise funds for his Presidential Library and the mutuality of their relationship was evident in Clinton’s eulogy at Wasserman’s funeral in 2002. Throughout the 1992 presidential campaign, Clinton’s charismatic abilities as a celebrity politician became increasingly evident as he enhanced his image through a series of well-staged speeches, photoopportunities and appearances on talk shows, most notably when he played the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show.26 In particular, the Thomasons brought an invaluable showbusiness savvy to the running of the campaign, including the use of experts to remodel the Clintons’ hair, clothing and make-up.

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Harry Thomason came up with Clinton’s ‘rock star’ walk to the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York City, in which he was trailed by handheld cameras from Macy’s, across Manhattan, to Madison Square Garden. Once in the hall and accompanied by a rising crescendo of crowd euphoria, Clinton delivered a last-minute line to his speech contributed by Bloodworth-Thomason: ‘Tomorrow Night, I will be the Comeback Kid.’27 In addition, Hollywood celebrities flocked to be at his side during political rallies, and the rock band Fleetwood Mac contributed their song ‘Don’t Stop’ as the soundtrack of his campaign. Clinton persuaded the then disbanded group to perform and stand in line with many other stars to shake his hand at his four inaugural events in 1993.28 During the first term of his presidency, Clinton invited actors such as Christopher Reeve, Michael Douglas and Harrison Ford to the Oval Office, while Streisand spent the night at the White House after performing at his inaugural ball. By the 1996 election, celebrities such as Robin Williams, Paul Newman, Whoopi Goldberg, Sharon Stone and Sarah Jessica Parker had endorsed the president. In his second presidential campaign, Clinton received donations from Wasserman of $507,833 and his protege Sid Sheinberg of $321,362, along with $575,697 from Geffen; $503,123 from Spielberg; $408,320 from Katzenberg; $318,000 from Edgar Bronfman, Jr.; $142,825 from Streisand, and $72,500 from Newman.29 Additionally, the Democratic National Committee raised $7 million in 1996 from three fundraisers, organized by Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen (who together had formed Hollywood’s newest studio Dreamworks SKG in 1994), which were emceeded by Tom Hanks and featured Streisand, Don Henley and Maya Angelou. Moreover, the Clinton campaign received soft money contributions from Seagrams, Disney and Dreamworks SKG, which meant that the Democratic Party could raise $8 million per election cycle throughout the 1990s.30 No other president moved with such ease within Hollywood’s leading circles as Clinton – in fact so much so, there were reports that he would run a studio once his term had ended.31 As one observer put it, ‘The affair between Hollywood and Clinton . . . was love. Clinton made the neurotic folk of Hollywood feel special. He went to their

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parties; he tucked them up in the Lincoln Bedroom and gave them a storyline to die for . . . Even at its lowest points, his presidency was performance art.’32

The Republican Reaction to Clinton’s Links with Hollywood, and the Cooling of his Relationship with Hollywood’s Liberal Establishment and Political Activists Clinton’s relations with Hollywood infuriated his critics within the American media. For instance, R.W. Apple Jr. commented that ‘Hollywood narcissism has displaced Rhodes-scholar earnestness as Washington’s controlling ethos, with Barbra Streisand and David Geffen supplanting George Stephanopoulos and Robert Reich as prototypical Buddies of Bill.’33 As Hollywood donations to the Democrats were twice the amount the Republicans received, Clinton’s proximity to the film community was castigated by his opponents ‘because it fed the frenzy to demonise the [role of] “decadent liberals” in [American public life].’34 In 1996 Clinton’s presidential opponent Senator Robert Dole criticised the depraved nature of films, claiming they undermined the nation’s character.35 Hollywood executives responded that Dole ignored the films produced by stars with Republican links such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone. They argued his comments were hypocritical in the light of Dole’s support for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and his purposes were akin to the HUAC’s anti-Communist witch-hunts. In particular, his criticisms fed fundamentalist groups whose anti-Semitism insulted Hollywood’s Jewish heritage and painfully reminded it of its problematic status in the US polity. Not surprisingly, Clinton received high approval ratings from Jewish groups of 76 to 83 per cent.36 Clinton’s relations with elements of Tinseltown became more strained, however, in the second term of his presidency. To some extent, this reflected the nation’s view of him as ‘Slick Willy’ when the issue of his sexual morality came back to haunt him with the revelations of his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky. In the publicity

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which accompanied Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s investigations, her background as the daughter of a Hollywood donor also brought into focus the implicit right-wing condemnation of the ‘immoral’ film community.37 While Clinton’s shattered reputation for probity led to a growing disillusionment between the president and a section of the American public, his ability to utilize televised forms of confession (which dated back to the 1992 primaries when his affair with Gennifer Flowers was revealed) and the strong economy that his administration had helped to promote meant that he left office with the highest approval ratings of any recent president.38 As for Starr’s investigation, which had led to Clinton’s impeachment, many of his staunch Hollywood supporters such as Streisand and Alec Baldwin argued that the investigation was part of a vindictive, right-wing conspiracy. Yet others had different perspectives, such as Mike Medavoy: So what do I think of Bill Clinton today? I continue to be his friend and I think he was a terrific president. What he did with . . . Monica Lewinsky . . . was embarrassing to his party, his country, his family and, most of all, himself. Clearly, he tarnished his place in history . . . but it would be Robin Toner’s review . . . in The New York Times Book Review that summed up those years of the lowest common denominator: ‘The Clinton scandal was the last cultural bonfire of the 1990s,’ she wrote. ‘Looking back, even now, is like trying to reconstruct a vast drunken brawl. The question is the same: “What were we thinking?”’39 The main cause of liberal Hollywood’s disenchantment with Clinton was the gulf which developed in expectations once its populist ‘narratives’ clashed with ‘real’ politics – and in ‘the second half of the 1990s, the administration’s Democratic Party-lite politics . . . made [his] name mud among Los Angeles’s so-called Westside liberals.’40 The most personalized of these falling outs occurred with his former friend Geffen when Clinton refused to pardon Leonard Peltier, an American Indian activist, of murder at the studio boss’s request. Instead, he agreed to pardon the fugitive fraudulent financier Marc Rich in the last days of

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his administration. When Geffen found out that Rich’s ex-wife Denise had been a major contributor to Clinton’s Presidential Library and to Hillary Clinton’s senatorial campaign in 2000, he called him, ‘a reckless guy . . . and asked if there is anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? . . . . Marc Rich getting pardoned? . . . Yet another time when the Clintons were unwilling to stand for things they genuinely believe in.’41 This change in attitude reflected the deterioration of Clinton’s relations with Hollywood’s more strident political activists. Initially, as Bill Carrick, the Democratic campaign consultant in Los Angeles, argued, ‘the Clinton presidency . . . had a great moderating effect. Hollywood hadn’t had a close relationship with the White House . . . . The ideological heat of the eighties evaporated overnight.’42 However, when Clinton decided to scrap welfare provision for 10 million people in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, the situation descended into one of seething resentment between his administration and Hollywood’s progressives. Former Screen Actors Guild (SAG) President Ed Asner, for instance, reflected bitterly: Absolutely we were seduced. Absolutely we were held back . . . the Democratic council felt they needed to move centre rightward to achieve power . . . I can list innumberable times and cases in his presidency that he failed to act like a progressive and could have; the land-mine treaty, the homosexual subject, the Kyoto treaty, the welfare programme, [and the] failed attempts at medical [reform].43 Hollywood’s progressive voices found it exceedingly difficult to get the ear of the president despite their fundraising and organizational abilities. One of the most powerful groups to oppose the Reagan administration had been the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee (HWPC), formed by Streisand, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Paula Weinstein in 1984. It was run by a seasoned political activist Marge Tabankin and maintained a militant agenda which was seen in equal parts as both courageous and foolhardy. It was effective in raising funds and in 1996 it organized an event for Clinton that generated $4

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million for his campaign. The star-studded gala celebrated Clinton’s social liberalism in an attempt to sway his views on welfare reform. Yet even with its access to finance the HWPC could not compete with the special interest groups when Clinton signed the Welfare Reform Bill. When the Democratic National Committee increased the HWPC 1997 gala’s ticket prices to $2,500, Tabankin decided to fold the political action committee for good.44 Consequently, by the end of his term in office, even though Clinton remained Hollywood’s favourite political son, Tinseltown’s leftists viewed his presidency as a failure as it had been marred by compromise, unfulfilled promises and missed opportunities. Hollywood’s progressive agenda was inevitably too complex and too dangerous electorally for Clinton to offer solace. Its lofty political ambitions were perhaps always going to lead to liberal Hollywood’s disappointment with his presidency in the long run.45

The Optimistic Representation of Presidential Politics in Hollywood Films during Clinton’s First Term The duality between the initially popular sentiment towards Clinton’s presidency and the sense of ambiguity that would later define his period in office coloured Hollywood’s representation of politics in a range of films made throughout the 1990s. The political movies produced during Clinton’s time in the White House provided one of the principal means by which his presidency was both celebrated and excoriated.46 Clinton understood their importance in shaping his political image: ‘in Clinton, public service finally found an artisan who understood how to shape the mythology Hollywood services for his own indefatigable ends.’47 In 1992 Clinton’s campaign managers had sought to depict him as the successor to the ‘Camelot’ legacy of John Kennedy. BloodworthThomason, in writing and producing the campaign biopic The Man from Hope, made capital of the grainy footage which existed of a brief handshake between JFK and the teenage Clinton when he had gone to the White House on 24 July 1963 as part of an Arkansas delegation to Boys Nation, an annual visit to Washington made by outstanding

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students and sponsored by the American Legion.48 In this respect, Clinton’s campaign benefited from the nostalgia for the Camelot era which had been sustained by Oliver Stone’s conspiracy thriller about Kennedy’s assassination, JFK (1991). It was further evoked in Jonathan Kaplan’s Love Field (1992), which related the tale of a Texan woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) whose adoration for Jacqueline Kennedy compels her to make a pilgrimage to Kennedy’s funeral.49 This spirit of nostalgia permeated the political comedies and dramas that were made in the first term of Clinton’s presidency when he was perceived as a Washington outsider. These movies presented liberal presidents whose common sense ideals defeated corrupt officials and effected appropriate forms of political representation. They were imbued with the spirit of Frank Capra’s 1930s social comedies, most especially Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939), in their tendency to present a populist view of the chief executive and the political establishment. In Ivan Reitman’s Dave (1993), which employed the comedic device of a doppelganger based on Anthony Hope’s adventure novel The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), an average citizen Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline) swaps his normal job as the head of a temporary recruitment agency in Georgetown for the Washington high-life. Initially, Kovic is simply required to impersonate the corrupt and ailing President Bill Mitchell who is in a stroke-induced coma and is hidden beneath the White House. However, as he becomes more politically conscious he brings his home-spun philosophies to the Oval Office, thereby becoming universally popular. Subsequently, he exposes a conspiracy to undermine the legitimate accession of environmentally-friendly Vice-President Nance (Ben Kingsley) to the presidency, and ousts the administration’s fraudulent Chief of Staff, Bob Alexander (Frank Langella). Thus, he restores virtue to a callous political establishment and through his impersonation of the commander-in-chief becomes a legitimate spokesman for the American people.50 In Rob Reiner’s romantic comedy The American President (1995), scripted by Aaron Sorkin (who would become known for his creation of the long-running presidential television series The West Wing (1999– 2008)), widowed President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) falls

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in love with an environmental lobbyist Sidney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening). Through this relationship he withstands the corrosive values of ‘spin’ and gallantly puts his love affair first despite its negative effect on his political image and accusations of collusion with Wade over the passage of a key environmental bill. Instead of climbing down over his liberal beliefs concerning the environment and freedom of speech, he redeems his career by addressing the nation on First Amendment rights and exposes the hypocrisy of his right-wing opponent Bob Rumson (Richard Dreyfuss). Consequently, this film accorded with the resurrection of national values that were apparently defined by Clinton’s liberal presidency, as it was couched in the principles of US exceptionalism.51 Concurrently, a cycle of action films presented the president as an all-American hero who shows extraordinary physical courage or leadership abilities to take on the ‘bad guys’ or extra-terrestrial invaders. These representations of the ‘action president’ included President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman), a former fighter pilot who foregoes his chief executive civvies to return to the cockpit of his plane to attack Martians in Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day (1996); an exmilitary man President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) who fights evil Russian hijackers in Wolfgang Peterson’s Air Force One (1997); and the noble President Beck (Morgan Freeman) who unites the world against outer-space asteroid attacks in Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact (1998). While these presidential films straddled Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996, ‘the genre would become seriously schizophrenic in [his] second term.’52

The Filmic Representation of Political Ignominy in Clinton’s Second Term As Clinton’s presidency became increasingly compromised, Hollywood films provided a more cynical account of his behaviour in the White House.53 The transitional film proved to be Clint Eastwood’s conspiracy thriller Absolute Power (1997) in which a career thief Luther Witney (Eastwood) inadvertently witnesses the shocking brutality of the philandering President Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman) when

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he kills his mistress. In Richmond’s attempt to coverup his murderous actions and shift the blame onto Witney, the film demonstrated a prophetic contempt for how an amoral politician would proclaim his innocence while his scandalous behaviour undermined the sanctity of the presidential office. Throughout the late 1990s, Hollywood’s representation of a corrupted presidency predominated as commanders-in-chief were shown to be duplicitous in their electioneering, manufacture of public opinion and clientalist relationships with vested interests. These concerns would be at the forefront of a loose trilogy of satirical comedies (Primary Colors (1998), Wag the Dog (1997) and Bulworth (1998)) that cast a critical eye over political malfeasance, spin and compromised ideals. Mike Nichols’ film of the political columnist Joe Klein’s novel Primary Colors was scripted by Elaine May and told the tale of a rising liberal Southern Governor Jack Stanton (John Travolta) who was based on the former governor of Arkansas. Like Clinton, Stanton is a charismatic political player who has a taste for junk food and is married to the ambitious Susan (Emma Thompson). He is supported by an able but foul-mouthed campaign director Richard Jemmons (BillyBob Thornton) who bears more than a passing resemblance to James Carville. While Stanton has clear political convictions and a genuine interest in the needs of the poor, he demonstrates a lack of morality in his sexual behaviour and political careerism. His behaviour is offset by the political innocence of Henry Burton (Adrian Lester), the grandson of a famous black civil rights activist, who becomes increasingly jaded, and the apparently amoral, lesbian political fixer Libby Holden (Kathy Bates). However, it is mentallydisturbed Libby in her suicide – which occurs when the Stantons flunk her ethical test by preparing to use the confessions of an Aids-raddled rent boy to condemn a political opponent, Governor Fred Picker (Larry Hagman), over his homosexual past and his use of cocaine – who carries the political conscience of the film. When she claims that such a malicious use of personal information betrays the values that they shared in an idealistic past, Susan Stanton replies: ‘We were young. We didn’t know how the world worked.’54

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As a consequence, the disillusioned ‘dust buster’ kills herself and Henry is forced to realize how low he has stooped when he intimidates the good-hearted ‘Fat Willie’ McCullison (Tommy Hollis), the father of the seventeen-year old African-American girl that Stanton may have impregnated, to keep him quiet. He informs Stanton that he intends to resign from the campaign. Rather than allowing Henry to walk away, however, the film shows how Stanton persuades him to return to the fold by defending the necessity of such ‘hard-ball’ tactics: This is the price you pay to lead. You don’t think Abraham Lincoln wasn’t a whore before he was President? He had to tell his little stories and then smile his shit-eating, backcountry grin. And he did it just so that one day he would have the opportunity to stand before the nation and appeal to the better angels of our nature.55 Although several critics accused Nichols and May of ‘soft-soaping’ Klein’s bleaker message, Primary Colors, as Myron A. Levine comments, ‘is a cinematic essay that asks the perennial question: Can service in politics, in this case a national campaign, be honorable given the pressures for ethical and moral compromise?’56 Such questions of dubious ethical behaviour underpinned Barry Levinson’s black comedy Wag the Dog, based on Larry Beinhart’s novel American Hero (1991), which hypothesised that the Gulf War was manufactured to boost President George Bush’s ratings. In the film, scripted by Hilary Henkin and David Mamet, an off-screen philandering president enters the final weeks of a chaotic election campaign at an all-time low in his poll ratings. To prevent the apparently inevitable re-election disaster, a White House staffer Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) contacts political fixer Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro) who plans to fabricate a war with Albania to turn the electorate’s attention away from the scandal and bolster the president’s chances at the polls. In order to effect this perception management, Brean employs top Hollywood film producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) to orchestrate a television war. Subsequently, Motss utilizes the latest technologies to direct the war filmed in a Los Angeles studio, employs an

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ambitious starlet Tracy Lime (Kirsten Dunst) to play a young girl saving her cat as the human ‘face’ of the conflict, and persuades film, television and music stars including Willie Nelson and Denis Leary to collude in the lie. As the film was released just as the Lewinsky story was about to break and as Clinton ordered American fighter pilots to carry out bombing raids in Afghanistan and the Sudan as the scandal intensified, it was seen as prescient for demonstrating how a corrupt president would employ a distant conflict to focus the media’s attention away from any domestic malfeasance. Both within its comedy – which includes the veneration of a mentally disturbed rapist Sergeant William Schumann (Woody Harrelson) who has to be secretly killed, and Motss’ egotism that eventually gets him permanently silenced – and in the film’s more serious points concerning the propagandist manipulation of public opinion, it conformed to a narrative line evident in many conspiracy thrillers. In particular, the movie provided an unerring critique of how an unprincipled political elite would engage any falsehood (however outrageous) to maintain its power. In this manner, Wag the Dog shares the same sense of cynicism as that directed at a plutocratic US political system in Warren Beatty’s Bulworth, his satire about a corrupt Senator for California Jay Billington Bulworth (Beatty) who tells the truth, through rap music, about race relations and political greed. Although the film’s anger was not specifically directed at the chief executive, it was critical of the state of political affairs that had come to predominate by the end of the ‘Democratic-Party-lite’ Clinton era.57 It demonstrated how the former liberal senator had become a tortured soul as he sold out his principles to become a willing pawn of large corporations. At the start of the film, Bulworth seems to be ‘a younger reincarnation of Mr Smith’s Senator Paine, even down to the realisation of his own corruption, which prompts his sudden death wish.’58 As Bulworth cannot pull the trigger, he arranges to have a contract put out on his life and to be as fully insured as possible so that these monies will have to be paid to his daughter as a form of revenge against the vested interests that kept him in office but undermined his principles. In this febrile mental state, the senator begins his re-election

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campaign in which he makes stops at a black congregation and a wealthy showbiz party. Suddenly liberated from the usual demands of electioneering, he informs his respective audiences that they have not contributed enough money to his campaign to be properly represented and that the product they make is violent, amoral and worthless. In telling the truth, he has an epiphany when he meets a beautiful young African-American woman Nina (Halle Berry) and discovers a street wisdom in the idiom of rap and the clothes of black, urban America. In turn, he becomes an inadvertent spokesman for the dispossessed while smoking dope, rapping and dancing to achieve a more profound political comprehension of the underlying forces that shape modern US society. Most strikingly, he makes an unorthodox television appearance dressed as a rapper with a conservative opponent, in which he berates the money culture that has overtaken the political system and the mass media. After this spectacular performance, Bulworth escapes the clutches of his campaign minders to hide out at Nina’s family home in Compton where he is exposed to gang culture and racist policing. Simultaneously, he learns about the benefits of black, urban life from a warm kinship network which contrasts with his own dysfunctional familial relationships with his wife and daughter. Once he has made a further virtuoso television performance, the insomniac Bulworth falls into a deep sleep for two days during which time he achieves an unprecedented 71 per cent of the vote and is re-elected. Upon awakening, the besuited senator after some hesitation realises his transformation is complete when Nina kisses him and declares, ‘You’re my nigger’. After leaving Nina’s house, however, he is shot down by an assassin’s bullet as the contract which he had put out on his life is taken up by the disaffected insurance companies. Hence, the film ends ambivalently ‘as to whether a spirit as mystical as that which entered Bulworth and his electorate can ultimately live and triumph.’59

Conclusion During Clinton’s presidency, Washington’s relationship with Hollywood marked the cross-fertilization of the US film industry’s economic

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interests with the prevailing attitudes favouring corporate growth for wealth creation within the American economy. His New Democrat principles of economic expansion underpinned the development of the showpiece 1996 Telecommunications Act. This legislation facilitated the transformation of Hollywood from a trans-national film industry into a global business as the studios’ ownership was defined by the interests of US multi-national media corporations. As one of the leading exporters of US product, Hollywood enjoyed the tacit support of the Clinton administration’s foreign policy and trading agendas. Tensions in this relationship between Clinton and Hollywood became manifest, however, during the 1986–94 GATT multi-lateral trade negotiations in which President of the MPAA Jack Valenti tried to utilise these agreements to expand the international distribution of US films. Clinton’s close affiliation with Lew Wasserman proved to be invaluable during a breakdown of relations with the EU and the near-collapse of the entire GATT negotiations. Therefore, Clinton made political capital of this relationship when he followed Wasserman’s advice to relent on Valenti’s demands for complete trade liberalisation. In this respect, Clinton benefited from his extraordinarily close relationship with both the older leadership and a younger generation of Democratic supporters from the Hollywood community. The backing he received from a group of executives and stars known as the Friends of Bill (FOB) not only helped to raise his political profile but showed a strong affinity on the part of the FOBs for his centrist New Democrat values. As America’s first ‘rock’n’roll president’60 no other chief executive ‘worked the powerful and rich Democratic establishment in Hollywood as well as Bill Clinton.’61 In this respect, Clinton appealed to four constructs which have determined Hollywood’s political support for Democratic candidates: ‘a belief in the leadership of special individuals, uniquely honourable and charismatic; the perception that special individuals form coalitions of ‘buddies’, based on loyalty and trust rather than social or political position; nostalgia for a bygone era – possibly an invented one – when these individuals and their buddies could get their way, and an inability to grapple with the

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modern neo-liberalist world that can lead to seeing heroes and their buddies as fatalistic characters.’62 The collapse in this love affair between Clinton and the liberal Hollywood community was almost inevitable. While he continued to appeal to mainstream members of the film industry, for Hollywood’s leftists his presidency became fatally compromised by scandal, selfinterest and a denial of the progressive agenda that he had at least to some extent initially promised. Clinton’s welfare reform was a step too far for many of the progressive lobbying groups, including the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee. This group felt that it was ignored and had become impotent due to Clinton’s clientalist relations with powerful special interest groups. Ultimately, this leftist constituency within Hollywood’s political class maintained that the president had failed to deliver on his manifesto pledges. Such a duality was apparent in the films that represented the Clinton presidency. In his first term, movies such as Dave and The American President presented liberal presidents who appealed to American audiences through their common sense and protection of individual liberties against corrupt officialdom. In this respect they promoted an optimistic account of the presidency based on the principles of US exceptionalism. Conversely, in his second term, satires such as Primary Colors, Wag the Dog and Bulworth provided a more cynical account of US political behaviour. They also reflected the falling out between Clinton and several members of the film community’s liberal establishment, such as Warren Beatty, who felt betrayed by Clinton’s adherence to the centrist principles of the Democratic Leadership Council. Clinton’s relationship with Hollywood involved a range of issues concerning US economic power, the Democratic partisanship of the community and the importance of political representation in American films in defining the national mythology. Consequently, it has been the purpose of this analysis to demonstrate how his affiliations with the US film industry contributed to a debate about the value of the HollywoodWashington relationship to the modern US polity. These relations were contradictory and they acted as a microcosm of the broader divisions in the economic, political and cultural constituencies of censure and support that determined the course of Clinton’s presidency.

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Notes 1. The Hollywood film industry refers to the major studios which are owned by global corporations. It is the centre of film production in Southern California and predominantly located in the North-West of the Los Angeles basin in the districts of Hollywood, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, Culver City, the City of Beverly Hills, the Hollywood Hills and parts of the San Fernando Valley. It is a significant employer both in terms of filmmaking and associated industries. The community is predominantly wealthy, has a strong Jewish heritage and is geographically compact. For further details see Scott, Allen J., On Hollywood: The Place, The Industry (Princeton, 2005). 2. Wheeler, Mark, Hollywood: Politics and Society (London, 2006), p. 141. Hollywood’s relationship with the Democratic Party can be taken back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Presidential campaign in 1932 in which he received donations and support from Hollywood moguls such as Jack Warner and stars including Will Rogers. 3. Richardson, Bonnie J.K., ‘Testimony of Bonnie J.K. Richardson, Vice President Trade and Federal Affairs, MPA Before the US Trade Policy Staff Committee on US-Australian Free Trade Agreement’, 15 January 2003 (downloaded from http://www.mpaa.org/legislation/press/2003/2003_01_15. pdf on 26 February 2010). The 1990s copyright industries included motion pictures (television, theatrical and home video entertainment), recording, music publishing, books, journals and newspapers, computer software, legitimate theatre, advertising and radio, television and cable broadcasting. 4. Rhodes, Rod A.W., ‘The Hollowing Out of the State’, Political Quarterly 65/2 (1994), pp. 138–51. 5. Dickenson, Ben, Hollywood’s New Radicalism: War, Globalisation and the Movies from Reagan to George W. Bush (London, 2006), pp. 46–7. 6. Chapman, Peter, ‘Monti Grabs Lead Role in the EU Media Show,’ European Voice, 6–12 July 2000, p. 21. 7. Wasko, Janet, Hollywood in the Information Age (Oxford, 1994), p. 223. 8. Valenti, Jack, ‘Signing off speech’, MPAA Press release, 6 September 2004 (downloaded from http://www.mpaa.org/MPAAPress/index.html on 26 February 2010). 9. Puttnam, David, The Undeclared War: The Struggle for Control of the World’s Film Industry (London, 1997), p. 6. 10. Guttman, Robert J., ‘Going to the Movies with Jack Valenti’, Europe Issue 379 (1998), p. 25. 11. Miller, Toby, ‘The Crime of Monsieur Lang: GATT, Screen and the International Division of Labour’, in Albert Moran, ed., Film Policy:

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14. 15. 16.

17.

18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

24. 25. 26.

27. 28. 29. 30.

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International, National and Regional Perspectives (London and New York, 1996), p. 73. Puttnam, The Undeclared War, pp. 4–5. Jarvie, Ian, ‘Free Trade as Cultural Threat: American Films and Exports in the Post-War Period’, in Geoffrey Nowell-Smith and Steven Ricci, eds., Hollywood and Europe: Economics, Culture, National Identity: 1945–1995 (London, 1998), p. 42. Wasko, Janet, How Hollywood Works (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi, 2003), p. 181. Puttnam, The Undeclared War, pp. 6–7. Jeancolas, Jean-Pierre, ‘From the Blum-Byrnes Agreement to the GATT Affair’, in Nowell-Smith and Ricci, eds., Hollywood and Europe: Economics, Culture, National Identity: 1945–1995, pp. 47–60. European Commission, Directorate-General X., GATS/WTO New Round Consultation on Audiovisual Services: Report of the Hearing of 23 February, 1999 (Brussels, 1999), p. 1. Wheeler, Mark, ‘Globalization of the Communications Marketplace’, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 5/3 (2000), pp. 27–44. West, Darrell M. and John Orman, Celebrity Politics (New Jersey, 2003), p. 39. Medavoy, Mike with Josh Young, You’re Only as Good as Your Next One (New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Singapore, 2002), p. 269. Medavoy, You’re Only as Good as Your Next One, p. 270. Schroeder, Alan, Celebrity in Chief: How Show Business took over the White House (Boulder, Colorado, and Oxford, 2004), p. 136. Alterman, Eric, ‘The Hollywood Campaign: Want big money to get elected to national office? If you’re a Democrat, you need to head for the hills – Beverly Hills. A miner’s map for the liberal Gold Rush’, The Atlantic Online (2004) (downloaded from http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200409/ alterman on 26 February 2010). McDougal, Dennis, The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA, and the Hidden History of Hollywood (New York, 1998). Bruck, Connie, When Hollywood had a King: The Reign of Lew Wasserman, Who Leveraged Talent into Power and Influence (New York, 2004), p. 464. Street, John, ‘Celebrity Politicians: Popular Culture and Political Representation’, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 6/4 (2004), p. 437. Schroeder, Celebrity in Chief, p. 230. West and Orman, Celebrity Politics, p. 23. McDougal, The Last Mogul, p. 520. Dickenson, Hollywood’s New Radicalism, p. 47.

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31. Hoberman, J. and Jeffery Shandler, Entertaining America: Jews, Movies and Broadcasting (Princeton, 2003), p. 271. 32. Macintyre, Ben, ‘Clinton, Doing it His Way to the Last Note’, The Times 12 August 2000, p. 18. 33. Apple Jr., R.W., ‘On Washington; Hollywood, D.C.’, New York Times, 15 November 1998 (downloaded from http://www.nytimes.com/1998/11/15/ magazine/on-washington-on-hollywood-dc.html on 26 February 2010). 34. Pendakur, Manjunath, ‘Hollywood and the State: American Film Industry Cartel in the Age of Globalisation’, in Paul MacDonald and Janet Wasko, eds., The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry (Malden, Oxford, 2008), pp. 188–9. 35. Sayre, Nora, ‘Assaulting Hollywood’, World Policy Journal (Winter 1995–96), pp. 51–60. 36. Hoberman and Shandler, Entertaining America, pp. 269–72. 37. Ibid., p. 272. 38. Rojek, Chris, ‘Celebrity and Religion’, in Sean Redmond and Su Holmes, eds., Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader (Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, 2007). 39. Medavoy, You’re Only as Good as Your Next One, p. 273. 40. Biskind, Peter, Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America (London, New York, Sydney, Toronto, 2010), p. 488. 41. NewsMax.com staff, ‘Why David Geffen hates Hillary & Bill Clinton’, NewsMax.com, 22 February 2007 (downloaded from http://archive.newsmax. com/archives/ic/2007/2/22/131809.shtml on 26 February 2010). 42. Cooper, Marc, ‘Postcards from the Left’, The Nation, 5 April 1999 (downloaded from http://www.thenation.com/doc/19990405/cooper on 26 February 2010). 43. Dickenson, Hollywood’s New Radicalism, p. 75. 44. Alterman, ‘The Hollywood Campaign’. 45. Dickenson, Hollywood’s New Radicalism, p. 80. 46. Kellner, Douglas, Cinema Wars: Hollywood Film and Politics in the Bush-Cheney Era (Malden, Oxford, Chichester, 2010), p. 4. 47. Scott, Ian, American Politics in Hollywood Film (Edinburgh, 2000), p. 154. 48. Herman, Luc, ‘Bestowing Knighthood: The Visual Aspects of Bill Clinton’s Camelot Legacy,’ in Peter C. Rollins and John E. O’Connor, eds., Hollywood’s White House: The American Presidency in Film and History (Kentucky, 2003), pp. 314–15. 49. Coyne, Michael, Hollywood Goes to Washington: American Politics on Screen (London, 2008).

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50. Haven Blake, David, ‘Hollywood, Impersonation and Presidential Celebrity in the 1990s’, in Rollins and O’Connor, eds., Hollywood’s White House. 51. Scott, American Politics in Hollywood Film, pp. 162–3. 52. Coyne, Hollywood Goes to Washington, p. 37. 53. It should be noted that Oliver Stone wrote, produced and directed Nixon (1995) during Clinton’s first term. In some respects, Stone’s film can be read as a commentary on the growing liberal disquiet with the Clinton era but was more explicitly a political history and its relative financial failure meant that it did not accord with the contemporary Zeitgeist. 54. Levine, Myron A., ‘Myth and Reality in the Hollywood Campaign Film: Primary Colors (1998) and The War Room (1994)’, in Rollins and O’Connor, eds., Hollywood’s White House, pp. 294–295. 55. Levine, ‘Myth and Reality in the Hollywood Campaign Film’, p. 295. 56. Ibid. 57. Biskind, Star, p. 488. 58. Coyne, Hollywood Goes to Washington, p. 99. 59. Davies, Philip John, ‘Hollywood in Elections and Elections in Hollywood’, in Philip John Davies and Paul Wells, eds., American Film and Politics from Reagan to Bush Jr. (Manchester, 2002), p. 62. 60. Davies, ‘Hollywood’, p. 45. 61. Hoberman and Shandler, Entertaining America, p. 271. 62. Polan, Dana, ‘The Confusions of Warren Beatty’, in Jon Lewis, ed., The End of Cinema As We Know It (London, 2001), p. 148.

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abortion, 56 Absolute Power (film), 247–8 Adams, Gerry, 182–4, 186–8, 191, 195 Ahern, Bertie, 187 Albright, Madeleine, 211, 212, 214–6 Ambrose, Stephen, 1 American Medical Association (AMA), 99 The American President (film), 246–7, 253 Americans for a New Irish Agenda (ANIA), 182–5, 194 approval ratings, 71, 149–50, 175–6, 243 Argentina, 79 Aristotle, 172–3 Arkansas Education Association, 23 Arkansas politics 1980 gubernatorial race, 4, 7, 13–18 1982 gubernatorial race, 20–8 before Clinton, 8–11 Clinton’s entry into, 11–13 Armey, Dick, 134 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), 78, 79 Asner, Ed, 244 Atwater, Lee, 42

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Bacon, Kenneth, 143 Baker, James, 40, 191 balanced-budget issue, 74–5, 85, 86 Barber, James David, 2, 189 Begala, Paul, 37 Belfast Agreement, 180–1, 187–9, 193, 196–8 Bennet, Douglas, 208–9 Bentsen, Lloyd, 36 Berger, Sandy, 80, 214 Berman, William, 210 Bew, Paul, 192 Bill, James, 172 Birch, Elizabeth, 129–30, 146 Blaine, James G., 168 Blair, Tony, 3, 57, 94, 186–8, 193, 197 Blinder, Alan, 73 Blumenthal, Sidney, 109 Bogor Declaration, 78, 79 Bosnia, 206–12, 214, 223 Bradley, Bill, 36 Brady bill, 53, 177 Branch, Taylor, 186 Brazil, 79 Brown, Jerry, 38, 39, 57, 58 Brown, Ron, 198 Brown, Scott, 92

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INDEX Bruton, John, 186, 187 Buchanan, Pat, 36, 77 budget deficit, 66–71, 84 Budman, Karlene, 26 Buffet, Warren, 85 Bulworth (film), 250–1, 253 Bumpers, Dale, 10–11 Burleigh, Peter, 218–19 Bush, George H. W., 35 1988 presidential campaign, 47 1992 presidential campaign, 36–8, 40–1 Bosnia and, 209, 210 crime issue and, 55 economy under, 65, 72, 82 foreign policy of, 54 health care reform of, 99 media and, 46 Northern Ireland and, 181, 196 presidency of, 36 Bush, George W., 2, 82, 173 Byrd, James, Jr., 125, 128 Byrd, Robert, 113 Campbell, Alistair, 188, 192 Canary Wharf bombing, 186 Carlin, John, 187 car tag fees, 13–15 Carter, Jimmy, 4, 13, 56, 65, 82, 167, 195, 198 Carville, James, 37, 40, 48, 51 Castro, Fidel, 55 celebrities, 232, 238–42 see also Hollywood centrist position, 20, 25–8, 51–9, 175 see also Third Way approach Chafee, John, 106 character, 2–3, 158–78 during 1992 campaign, 38–51 of Clinton, 3, 5, 160–70, 174–8, 189, 222–3 effectiveness and, 170–2 governing and, 158–60

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259

of JFK, 2–3 leadership and, 3, 164–72 Charlemagne Prize, 224 Cherry, Francis, 8 China, 79–80, 218 Chrisman, Marshall, 14, 21, 23 Christopher, Warren, 209–10, 216 civil rights, 149 Cleveland, Grover, 4, 168 Clinton, Bill accomplishments of, 176–8 accusations against, 162–3 as Arkansas governor, 11–13, 25, 28–9, 35 character of, 3, 5, 160–70, 174–8, 189, 222–3 entry into politics of, 11–13 gubernatorial defeat of, 13–18, 28–9 Hollywood and, 231–53 impeachment of, 65, 79, 161–4, 174–8 as New Democrat, 27–8, 51–9, 94–6 personality of, 12 personal life of, 3, 41–6, 164 political ideology, 3 as politician, 4 ranking of, as president, 4 Clinton, Chelsea, 190–1 Clinton, Hillary Rodham, 12, 35 attacks on, 58–9, 175 character issue and, 46, 48 health care reform and, 99, 101, 104, 112 Whitewater scandal and, 109 Clinton presidency importance of, 1 scholarship on, 2–5 success of, 5 Cohen, William, 142–3, 214 Cold War, 54, 82, 194 Congress Clinton and, 69, 93 health care reform and, 106–13 Republican control of, 71 Contact Group, 214, 215, 217, 218, 221

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Coogan, Tim Pat, 194 Cook, Robin, 215 Cooper, Jim, 108–9 Cran, James, 191 Creation Science Law, 19 crime, 55 Cuban refugees, 13, 14–15 Cullen-Foster, Tony, 188 Cuomo, Mario, 37, 57 DADT, see don’t ask, don’t tell (DADT) policy Dallek, Robert, 170 Dave (film), 246, 253 Dayton Peace Agreement, 209, 210, 214 death penalty, 55 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 120–1, 123, 126–7, 144–6, 149 deficit reduction policies, 66–71, 82, 84 de Gaulle, Charles, 167 Democratic Convention 1988, 35 1992, 54, 61, 241 Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), 3, 52, 57, 67, 94, 233 Democratic nomination, in 1992, 39–40 Democratic Party, 3, 4 in 1960s, 9–10 in Arkansas, 9–11, 19, 21–2, 26 Hollywood and, 232 in South, 15 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), 188, 194 Dinkins, David, 182–3 Divine, Robert, 1 Dole, Bob, 55, 70, 71, 106, 242 DOMA, see Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Donlon, Sean, 195 don’t ask, don’t tell (DADT) policy, 120, 121, 124–5, 138–44, 146–7 Downing Street Declaration, 183 draft issue, 43–4, 49, 51, 60 Dreyfuss, Richard, 232, 238

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drug use, 44, 60 Dukakis, Michael, 35, 47, 55, 56 Durbin, Dick, 120 Dworkin, Anthony, 208 Earned Income Tax Credit, 53 East Asian financial crisis, 79 economic growth, 4, 74, 75 economic policy, 65–86 Clinton record on, 81–6 deficit reduction policies, 66–71 foreign, 76–81 monetary policy, 71–6, 85 Eisenhower, Dwight D., 1, 4, 45, 81–2 Emanuel, Rahm, 37 Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), 131–5, 149 European Union, 78 Fallows, James, 190 Family and Medical Leave Act, 53, 177 Faubus, Orval, 8–9, 16 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), 71, 73–4 Federal Reserve, 71–4, 76, 85 film industry, 231–53 financial market liberalization, 85 Financial Services Modernization Act, 85 fiscal deficit, 66–71 fiscal policy, 52 Fisk, Robert, 191–2, 200 Fitzgerald, Jennifer, 46 Flanagan, Thomas, 183–5 Flowers, Gennifer, 34, 38, 39, 42–3, 48, 50–1, 60, 243 Ford, Gerald, 82, 167 foreign economic policy, 76–81 foreign film markets, 234–7 foreign policy, 4, 54–5, 177 in Bosnia, 209–12, 214, 223 in Kosovo, 206–25 in Northern Ireland, 180–202 post-Cold War, 199–202 priorities, 207–12

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INDEX Fort Chaffee National Guard base, 13–15 Foster, Vince, 162, 175 France, 236 Frank, Barney, 147, 150 free trade, 77–81, 177 Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), 78, 79 Friedman, Thomas, 164, 210–11 Friends of Bill (FOB), 232, 238, 252 Gates, Robert, 124, 125 Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, 133, 136–7 gay marriage, 144–6 see also Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) gay rights, 5, 120–51 as civil rights, 127–8 Clinton and, 127–51 Clinton’s current perspective on, 120–4 Defense of Marriage Act and, 120–1, 123, 126–7, 144–6, 149 don’t ask, don’t tell (DADT) policy and, 120, 121, 124–5, 138–44, 146–7 Employment Non-Discrimination Act and, 131–4 hate crimes legislation and, 128–30 Obama and, 121, 123–7, 146–7, 150 presidential leadership on, 146–51 Geffen, David, 232, 240, 243–4 General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT), 235–7, 252 Gephardt, Richard, 36, 37 Gergen, David, 109, 141–2 Gerth, Jeff, 44 Gibbs, David, 221–2 Giddens, Anthony, 94 Gingrich, Newt, 45, 107, 174 Glass-Steagall Act, 85 globalization, 66, 67, 76–81, 177 Good Friday Agreement, see Belfast Agreement Gore, Al, 36, 40, 41, 54, 59, 184

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governorship of Clinton, 11–13, 25, 28–9, 35 of White, 17–19 Great Society, 51 Greenberg, Stanley, 37, 40, 41, 68, 93 Greenspan, Alan, 67–8, 71–6, 83–6 Greenstein, Fred, 1 Greer, Frank, 37 Grunwald, Mandy, 37 gubernatorial campaign of 1980, 13–18, 28–9 of 1982, 19–28 Guelke, Adrian, 200–1 Gulf War, 36, 37 Haiti, 207, 209, 217, 224 Hammerschmidt, John Paul, 11 Hamzy, Connie, 43 Hargrove, Erwin, 148 Harkin, Tom, 38, 39, 58 Hart, Gary, 35, 41–2, 238 Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), 128–30 Hate Crimes Statistics Act, 129 health care crisis, 96–100 health care reform, 4–5, 56, 70–1, 83, 92–114 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), 110 Health Insurers Association of America (HIAA), 99, 107 Health Security Act (HSA), 92–6, 101–2, 104–12 Hefley, Joel, 134 Hendren, Kim, 21, 23 Hoff, Joan, 2 Holbrooke, Richard, 210, 212–13, 215, 219, 220 Hollywood, 5, 231–53 Hollywood Women’s Political Committee (HWPC), 244–5, 253 Holmes, Gene, 43–4 Hormel, James, 130–1, 138

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262

THE PRESIDENCY

House Un-American Activities Committee, 232 Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 128, 129–30, 146 Hume, John, 184, 190, 194, 195 Hussein, Saddam, 36 Hyde, Henry, 174, 176 impeachment, 65, 79, 161–4, 174–8 income inequalities, 83–4 inflation, 71, 72, 75–6, 85 information communications technologies (ICTs), 233–4 Inhofe, James, 131 interest rates, 71–4, 76 International Monetary Fund (IMF), 79 Iran-Contra scandal, 35, 41 Iraq, 36 Iraq War, 173 Ireland, see Northern Ireland Irish Republican Army (IRA), 182–4, 186, 187, 195, 197 Jackson, Andrew, 168 Jackson, Jesse, 57–8, 77 Japan, 80 Jefferson, Thomas, 49, 168 JFK (film), 246 Johnson, Jim, 9, 16 Johnson, Lyndon, 4, 45, 46, 65, 81, 172, 232 Jones, Paula, 175 Kaplan, Jonathan, 246 Katzenberg, Jeffrey, 232 Kaus, Micky, 95 Kendall, David, 95 Kennedy, Edward, 128, 131, 191, 195 Kennedy, John F., 1–2, 55, 65, 81 character of, 2–3 civil rights and, 149 glamour of, 46 Hollywood and, 232

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BILL CLINTON

ideology of, 56 personal life of, 2 ranking of, as president, 4 religion issue and, 50 Kerrey, Bob, 38, 39 King, Larry, 139–41, 145 Kissinger, Henry, 210 Klein, Joe, 41, 175 Kosovo, 4, 206–25 Kristol, William, 106–7 Kuwait, 36 Lader, Philip, 197 Lady, Frank, 17 Lake, Anthony, 183–5, 207–8, 212, 216 Levin, Carl, 147 Lewinsky, Monica, 3, 65, 79, 160, 161, 174, 175, 178 Lincoln, Abraham, 49, 170 Little Rock Central High School, 8–9 Livingston, Robert, 176 Lott, Trent, 137–8 Love Field (film), 246 Lowe, Lynn, 11 Magaziner, Ira, 67, 101 Major, John, 182, 185–7 Mallon, Seamus, 192 Mancuso, Donald, 143 The Man from Hope (film), 245–6 Mankiw, Gregory, 65 marijuana, 44, 50, 60 Marshall, Will, 95 Mates, Michael, 199 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, 125, 149 Mayhew, Patrick, 182, 185 McCain, John, 139 McCurry, Mike, 137–8 McDermott, James, 102 McKinley, William, 4 McMath, Sid, 8, 9 McMichael, Gary, 187

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INDEX Medavoy, Mike, 232, 243 media, 45, 46, 47 Medicaid, 93, 97–8 Medicare, 93, 97–8 Mexico, 77–9, 82 mid-term elections, of 1994, 93, 95, 112 military service of Clinton, 38, 39, 41, 43–4, 49, 51, 60 gay rights and, 120, 121, 124–5, 138–44, 146–7 Milosevic, Slobodan, 213–17, 219–21, 223 Mitchell, George, 109, 185–8, 197, 200 Mitterrand, Francois, 211 Molyneaux, James, 184 Mondale, Walter, 52, 56 Moran, Pat, 10 Morris, Dick, 47 Morrison, Bruce, 182 Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), 234, 235, 252 Mowlam, Mo, 187, 188 Moynihan, Daniel Patrick, 191, 195 Mullen, Mike, 124, 125, 147 Myers, Dee Dee, 37 Nadler, Jerrold, 121 NAFTA, see North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) National Economic Council, 82 National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), 107 NATO, see North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Nelson, Michael, 148 Nelson, Sheffield, 42 New Deal, 9, 51 New Democrats, 3, 27–8, 51–9, 94 New Hampshire primary, 39, 43, 44 New Labour, 3, 57, 186, 187 Nichols, Larry, 42 Nixon, Richard M., 1–2, 9, 15, 45, 55, 82, 161, 166–8, 174 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), 77–81, 82, 177

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263

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), 199, 200, 216–7, 219–22 Northern Ireland, 4, 180–202 Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, 190 Nunn, Sam, 139 Oakley, Meredith, 27 Obama, Barack, 2 gay rights and, 121, 123–7, 146–7, 150 health care reform and, 92–3, 112–14 O’Dowd, Niall, 182, 193 Omagh bombing, 196, 197 Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act (OBRA), 69–70, 83–4 Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), 214, 217 Paisley, Ian, 184–5, 188, 193, 196 Paterson, Thomas, 1 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), 112–14 Perot, Ross, 34, 39–40, 41, 67 Persian Gulf War, 36, 37 personal life of Clinton, 3, 41–6, 164 of JFK, 2–3 Peterson, Mark, 97, 106 phronesis, 172–3 political films, 245–51 Porter, Roger, 42 Powell, Colin, 125, 139, 146–7, 212 Powell, Jonathan, 186 presidential campaign of 1988, 35 of 1992, 34–61 presidential debates, in 1992 campaign, 41 presidential election, of 1992, 4, 34–61 presidential rankings, 4 presidential scholarship, 1–2 Primary Colors (film), 34, 248–9, 253 pro-choice position, 56

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THE PRESIDENCY

Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), 94, 95 progressivism, in Arkansas politics, 9–12, 18, 21, 23, 28 Pryor, David, 11, 23 public-investment plan, 56 public opinion, 7, 163–4, 175–6 Purcell, Joe, 21, 22, 23 Quayle, Dan, 38 racial issues, 60 Reagan, Ronald, 18, 19, 26, 35, 65, 68, 81–2, 195, 233 Reaganomics, 66 Rector, Ricky Ray, 55 Reed, Bruce, 37 Reeves, Thomas, 2 Reich, Robert, 56, 67 Republican Convention, of 1992, 49 Republican Party in Arkansas, 10, 14, 18, 19 conservatism and, 15 health care reform and, 106–12 Hollywood and, 242–5 in South, 15 reverse Plaza accord, 80–1, 84 Reynolds, Albert, 183 Rice, Donna, 42 Rich, Marc, 243–4 Richard III (Shakespeare), 158–60 Robinson, Tommy, 42 Rockefeller, Winthrop, 9–11, 17 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 65, 168, 169 Rose Law Firm, 58 Rubin, Robert, 67, 76–7, 82 Rugova, Ibrahim, 214 Russia, 79, 215, 218 Rwanda, 223, 224 Salinas, Carlos, 78–9 same-sex couples, rights of, 126 same-sex marriage, 144–6 see also Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

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BILL CLINTON

Sarajevo, 206, 224 scandals, 162–3 Gennifer Flowers, 34, 38, 39, 42–3, 48, 50–1, 60, 243 Monica Lewinsky, 3, 65, 79, 160–1, 174–5, 178 Whitewater, 44, 50, 60, 109, 161, 162, 175 school desegregation, 8–9 Schumer, Charles, 120 Schwarzlose, Monroe, 13–14, 21, 23 Seitz, Raymond, 184, 191, 195 Serbia, 214, 215, 218, 219 sex scandals, 38, 39, 42–3, 48, 60, 160, 174, 175 sexual orientation, discrimination based on, 131–7 Shalikashvili, John, 124, 147 Sheinberg, Sid, 232 Shephard, Matthew, 125, 128, 129, 130 Sinn Fein, 183–4, 186, 188, 196 Sister Souljah, 58 60 Minutes interview, 39, 48 Skocpol, Theda, 106, 107 Smith, Kenneth, 184 Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), 184 Soderberg, Nancy, 180–2, 185, 193, 198, 201 Solana, Javier, 220 Somalia, 224 Southern politics, 15, 18, 22, 26–7 Soviet Union, 54 Specter, Arlen, 128 Spielberg, Steven, 240 Sperling Breakfast meeting, 43 Spring, Dick, 183 Srebrenica, 206, 224 Starr, Kenneth, 50, 161, 165, 174–5, 243 Starr, Paul, 101 State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), 93, 110

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INDEX State of Union address, 1994, 109 Steel, Dawn, 232 steel industry, 82 Stephanopoulos, George, 37, 44, 48, 60, 191 Stephens, Jackson, 19 Stephens, Witt, 17, 19 stock market, 76, 81, 84, 86, 177 Stone, Oliver, 246 Stonewall riots, 136 Streisand, Barbra, 232, 238, 240 Summers, Larry, 85 supply-side policies, 66–7 Talbott, Strobe, 215 tax policy, 56, 68, 69 Telecommunications Act, 234, 237 Thailand, 79 Third Way approach, 3, 5, 34, 51–9, 94–6, 111, 175 Thomas, Helen, 49 Thomason, Harry, 238–41 Thomason, Linda Bloodworth, 238–40, 245 Thornburgh, Richard, 37 Thurmond, Strom, 139 trade deficit, 80–1, 84 Trimble, David, 185, 187, 192, 193, 196–7 Truman, Harry, 65, 81, 139 Tsongas, Paul, 38, 39 Tucker, Jim Guy, 21, 22, 23 Tyson, Laura, 72 unemployment, 71, 75, 82 United Nations (UN), 207, 208–9, 218 United Nations Security Council (UNSC), 218, 219 universal health care, 4–5, 56, 70–1, 99–105, 109, 110, 112 US Chamber of Commerce, 108 US economy during 1990s, 65, 70–1, 74

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265

under Bush, 65, 72, 82 under Clinton, 81–6, 177 US health care system, 96–100 US-UK Special Relationship, 184, 190–1, 196 Valenti, Jack, 235, 236, 252 Vietnam War, 38, 39, 41, 43–4, 45, 49, 51, 60 Volcker, Paul, 72 Voll, Barbara, 21, 23 Wag the Dog (film), 249–50, 253 Wallace, George, 9 Walsh, Lawrence, 41 Walt, Stephen, 207 The War Room (film), 34 Washington, George, 49 Wasserman, Lew R., 232, 237, 240 Watergate, 2, 45 Weinberger, Caspar, 41 welfare reform, 60, 95–6, 244–5, 253 Wellstone, Paul, 102 Westmacott, Peter, 186–7 White, Frank, 7 1980 gubernatorial race, 14–18 1982 gubernatorial race, 20–8 governorship of, 17–19 Whitewater scandal, 44, 50, 60, 109, 161, 162, 175 Wilder, Douglas, 38 Wills, Garry, 1, 174 Wofford, Harris, 37, 99 World Trade Organization (WTO), 78–81 Wright, Betsey, 20, 35, 47 Yellen, Janet, 73 Young, Quentin, 103 Yugoslavia, 215, 218 Zelman, Walter, 105 Zimmermann, Warren, 212

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