A disclaimer to begin: Writing about Hillary’s Husband is not an endorsement, it’s just another installment of the Profiles in Persistence Series.
With all of the nicknames that President Bill Clinton acquired, I’m genuinely surprised that he was never compared to a cat because he has as close to nine lives as any American Politician. The life of our 42nd President proves that the only limit on second chances in American life is how many you’re willing to take.
Similar to Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton was hailed as a wonder boy of politics. Before he could vote, he drove candidates, volunteered in political campaigns, and was listened to by experienced politicians.
One of the most iconic pictures of the 1992 Presidential Campaign was the photograph of Bill Clinton as a member of Arkansas’ Boys Nation delegation shaking hands with President Kennedy. He was a bright shining star as a young man.
In college, he worked for Senator J. William Fullbright and went on to be a Rhodes Scholar. All the while, his plan was always to return to Arkansas and run for office.
After Yale Law School he got his chance and waged an aggressive campaign for Congress in 1974 again the popular John Paul Hammerschmidt. President Nixon’s resignation killed his campaign and he lost but learned how to run a successful campaign.
In 1976, Bill Clinton was elected Attorney General of the State of Arkansas by a landslide vote. He was considered to be one of the Democratic Party’s rising stars and wasn’t even 30 yet.
It was almost a given that Clinton would run for Governor in 1978. His campaign was a youth revolution and he was once again elected by a landslide when he was 30 years old, making him the youngest Governor in the nation.
And then he fell.
Clinton was elected on a campaign to improve education and infrastructure in a state who’s unofficial motto was “Thank God for Mississippi” because if it weren’t for Mississippi, Arkansas would be last in the nation in education and infrastructure. In order to fulfill his campaign promises, he raised the fee for license plates to pay for his initiatives.
It’s become a fable in Arkansas politics that ever month, 1/12 of the population went to renew their plates and every month 1/12 of the population decided against voting for Bill Clinton.
In 1980, Republican businessman Bill White ran a brilliant campaign that captured anger over the license plate fee increase and the Reagan Revolution sweeping the rest of the nation. For the first time in his life, Bill Clinton was turned out of office and unpopular.
At the age of 32, Bill Clinton found himself the youngest ex-governor in America’s History.
In true Bill Clinton style, he spent the following day campaigning for 1982. He went to work in a law firm, took every speaking engagement offered to him and worked his way back.
His extreme hard work, diligence and yes, persistence, paid off as he was returned the Governor’s Mansion in 1982 a changed man. He was more capable of compromise and more eager to prove himself. He fell hard but began a quicker rise.
It was rumored that he would run for President in 1988 but decided to sit it out and wait for either 1992 or 1996. When the nominee, Michael Dukakis, asked his fellow governor to give his nominating speech at the Democratic National Convention, it seemed as if his career would once again be over as he spoke for 33 minutes and received his biggest applause line on the phrase “In conclusion”. Once again however he proved his critics wrong when an appearance on the Johnny Carson Show the following week once again out him on the map.
On November 3, 1992, Bill Clinton was elected President. After rising quickly and falling hard, he had risen to the highest office in the land.
Throughout his Presidency, he was pronounced politically dead over and over again. 1998, he became the second President in US History to be impeached. Even that couldn’t kill the cat of politics. Every time he has fallen, he has clawed his way and has shown over and over again that he is a true profile in persistence.