Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
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Posts tagged "President Clinton"
Hi, I'm working on a paper for U.S. foreign policy and chose to focus on "Probable cultural/experiential/personality issues on one senior-level U.S. FP decision-maker since 1900" as my topic. I leaning towards Bill Clinton. Can you please share some good sources about him focusing on my topic? There are other options like a case study on a crisis, but I am interested in studying a POTUS if you wanna throw out any others I might be able to write a good piece on. Thanks in advance!
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I think that President Clinton is a strong choice. Here are some sources that I’d suggest:

PBS American Experience: Clinton
As I’ve noted on many occasions, the supplemental websites to PBS documentaries are incredibly loaded with source material and/or links to source material.

My Life by Bill Clinton

The Survivor: Bill Clinton In The White House by John F. Harris

A Complicated Man: The Life of Bill Clinton As Told By Those Who Know Him by Michael Takiff

First In His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton by David Maraniss

The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton by Joe Klein

The Presidency of Bill Clinton: The Legacy of a New Democratic and Foreign Policy by Mark White

And don’t hesitate to check out the oral histories and collections of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and the William J. Clinton Presidential History Project at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs.

Bill Clinton is famously, and sometimes mockingly, remembered for biting his lip before he prepared to say something.  At times, it seemed corny or even smarmy, and on Saturday Night Live, it became a staple of the great Phil Hartman’s impression of Clinton during the Clinton Administration. The mannerism was usually followed with a comment like, “I feel your pain.”

However, in Michael Takiff’s awesome oral history of Bill Clinton, A Complicated Man, it is revealed that there was much more to Clinton’s lip biting than a goofy quirk. In fact, it was a calculated action — a speed bump for the lightning quick thoughts of one of the most intellectually powerful and supremely gifted politicians in American history.  Clinton’s longtime aide and one of the driving forces of his 1992 Presidential campaign, Paul Begala, says that Clinton was trained to do the lip biting because Clinton answered questions so quickly that it almost seemed unnatural.

According to Begala:

He was so smart about so many things but also could connect.  The whole thing about his biting his lip — that was coached.  Because he would answer so fast.  We’d say, ‘Take a beat.  Pretend you’re thinking about it.  Pretend you haven’t already got an answer.’  It was a studied thing to give himself a second to force himself to slow down.”

Bill Clinton’s “Final Days” as President, from his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and featuring a cameo from the man who would someday become Frank Underwood.

And #42 continues to be the coolest President ever.

Being President is like running a cemetery — you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.
Bill Clinton, during a speech in Galesburg, Illinois, January 30, 1995
Asker Anonymous Asks:
What president (or presidents) would make the perfect roommate for you?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Bill Clinton. No hesitation on that answer. He’d be a perfect roommate for me for several reasons. We’re both night owls/insomniacs, so neither of us would have to tiptoe around in fear of waking the other roommate, plus we’d have someone to hang out with at 3:00 AM every morning.

All of the Presidents would be interesting in one way or another, but Clinton seems like he’d be the easiest to just sit around and talk to or play rounds of Hearts with. I’m sure he’s also the type of guy who enjoys a good meal (or, at least, was before he decided to eat better after his heart surgery), and finding a roommate who enjoys the same food as you is always a bonus.

Clinton and I have similar tastes in books. I’d pay double the original rent just to combine my library with his. Also, since I tend to be anti-social, Clinton as roommate would be the best medicine for that. He’d be great for throwing parties, and I tend to believe that he’d be a pretty damn good wingman when it came to meeting nice ladies.

Bill Clinton can talk to anybody and immediately make a new friend, and that would be great. He’s just likable, and you can’t ask for much more than a roommate you like being around. Even political rivals seem to end up liking him personally. George W. Bush had quite a bit of resentment towards Clinton because he beat Bush’s father in 1992. But once they got to know each other, 43 was asked how he felt about his predecessor, 42, and Bush said, “Are you kidding? How can you not like Bill Clinton?”

I don’t like living with roommates and feel like living alone is the best way to experience freedom, but I’ve really warmed to this idea while answering this question. I’m in if you’re in, Mr. President! I’ll come work at the Clinton Foundation and we can carpool. Also, I cook, if that helps.

He’s luckier than a dog with two dicks.

Bill Clinton, to aides, on Barack Obama’s good fortune against Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign

•For hundreds of more fascinating quotes just like this, go buy my book TRIBUTES AND TRASH TALK: WHAT OUR PRESIDENTS SAID ABOUT EACH OTHER for just $4.95.


•Barnes & Noble/Nook:

Asker bbkld Asks:
In your opinion, which successful POTUS candidate had the most congenial post-election relationship with the person he beat? And who had the worst? Related to this, I always got a kick out of former President Clinton and former Senator Dole being simultaneous members of the Senate Spouses Club, this due to Hillary and Elizabeth being senators from their respective states.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

President Clinton and Bob Dole being Senate Spouses is pretty great.  Clinton and Dole are right up near the top of the list when it comes to former campaign rivals who enjoyed a friendly relationship afterward.  I think it would probably have to be Clinton and George H. W. Bush, though.  I love reading about how close they are and how Clinton’s basically been adopted into the Bush Family.

Honorable mentions would go to Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford who bonded after their 1976 campaign against each other.  Also, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie.  Despite losing to FDR in 1940, Willkie gave Roosevelt his support as the U.S. entered World War II.  FDR even sent Willkie to Europe as a special envoy during the war.  Of course, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had themselves a little bit of a beef that turned into one of history’s most fascinating friendships as they aged.

Worst?  The relationship between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams was pretty nasty and I’d be stunned if there wasn’t some animosity between George W. Bush and Al Gore, but I’m going to go with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.  At one point, FDR and Hoover were quite friendly, but issues heated up between them during the transition after FDR beat Hoover in the 1932 election.  Once FDR was President, Hoover was treated as if he were radioactive.  Despite Hoover’s massive success in relief efforts during the first World War, FDR asked nothing from Hoover.  After FDR died, it only took a few days before President Truman contacted Hoover for advice and to put him to work.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Do you think Bill Clinton deserved an award from GLAAD considering he signed DOMA to begin with? I'm a Clinton fan but it felt a little puzzling to me.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Kind of like awarding President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize?  I guess it doesn’t make much sense, but if it’s GLAAD giving Clinton an award, who am I to say he doesn’t deserve it?

1.  Why is there not a reality show that just follows President Clinton and President Bush around as they travel around the country in a bus in a national tour to cheer everybody up?

2.  No, seriously.  As divided as the United States has been over the past decade, wouldn’t it be wonderful to see our two most beloved living former Presidents — former campaign adversaries — drive around the country and just drop in at Waffle Houses or bowling alleys and hang out with regular Americans?  I guarantee it would calm people down, ease tensions, and heal the nation’s wounds.

3.  William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States of America, used the hashtag “#sockswag” in reference to the unique footwear of the 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush.    

4.  Sure, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson engaged in one of history’s epic pen pal relationships following their Presidencies, but Adams never shaved his head to show support for a child fighting cancer or wore multi-colored cactus socks.  And Thomas Jefferson wrote a lot of famous words, but he never used the term “sockswag”, so I think it’s pretty clear that Bush41/Clinton > Adams/Jefferson.


I was too busy buying birthday hats and handing out kazoos.  That was the job that the Clinton National Birthday Committee gave me this year instead of writing an article.  Maybe next year?

I am a supporter and fan of both men, but outside of their party affiliation, no, I can’t say that I see a whole lot in common between the two.

They are very different types of politicians.  Clinton was an emotional, empathetic figure, while Obama is a much more technical, analytical politician.  Each of these styles have their distinct advantages and disadvantages for a politician, but I think that Clinton’s style is a better fit for someone in an executive position such as a President or Governor.  Bill Clinton, like Ronald Reagan, could lead by inspiring.  The things he said, the way he said them, and the connection he made with audiences built something that felt a lot like a relationship between the President and the American people.  When that exists, it becomes easier for the President to take his case to the people, if necessary.  Where that emotional, empathetic leader is especially successful is in those special national moments when a President is needed not so much for their role as head of state, but for their unofficial role as head of the American family.  Reagan did this spectacularly well, most notably following the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.  Clinton had his chance in 1995 following the Oklahoma City bombing and came through at a prayer service.  One of George W. Bush’s strongest moments as President was in this type of role following 9/11.  While that is usually a time for comforting and calming the nation, it can also be one of opportunity as proven by Lyndon Johnson proved in the wake of the JFK assassination when he immediately went to work fighting to pass chunks of Kennedy’s legislative agenda that had been mired in a Congressional stalemate.    

The analytical politician thrives in a legislative setting where piloting legislation through a chamber of Congress can be like piecing together a puzzle — locating certain votes here-and-there, building alliances or blocs of support, finding patterns, and finessing the bill through with subtle changes that satisfy as many people as possible.  An analytical politician like Obama is usually the type who masters the technical details and arcane rules of Congress in order to use them tactically, like a lawyer masterfully controlling the courtroom, to build or break a piece of legislation’s momentum and guide it through to passage or down in flames.  Analytical politicians can still be successful as President — Franklin D. Roosevelt is a good example — but they must work with Congress.  It can’t be an antagonistic relationship, and Congress must be willing to do their part.  Unfortunately for President Obama, he’s saddled with a Congress in which both chambers — a House with a Republican majority and a Senate with a Democratic majority — are historically inept. 

Those two different types of leadership are the two immediate differences that I notice between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.  Interestingly enough, in private, I think that their roles are probably somewhat reversed.  Obama is much more relaxed and laid back in private conversation, or even with smaller groups, than he comes across in press availabilities and interviews.  And while Clinton is largely the same person that you get the rest of the time, he possesses a vicious temper that would surprise any longtime Clinton-watcher who wasn’t aware of that relatively little-known aspect of his personality.

"It’s frustrating when I think we’re majoring in the minors, either over the budget debate, or going right back to politics as soon as the last election is over instead of getting into the grimy details where the future of America will be written."

Bill Clinton, on how people need to stop obsessing over Hillary’s 2016 plans or potential Presidential candidates and focus on the problems today. (Via Politico)