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Tuesday, 29 August, 2000, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
How will Bill Clinton be remembered?
Bill Clinton's term of office is coming to an end. After eight years in power, the US President has given a triumphalist valedictory speech to his party faithful.
At the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, Mr Clinton claimed credit for "unprecedented" American prosperity, which has seen the creation of nearly 22 million jobs during his term of office.
But critics think that Clinton will be remembered for his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and for the attempted cover-up which led to his impeachment in Congress.
How will Bill Clinton go down in history? Will it be for his management of the economy and his role in world affairs? Or as the President who cavorted with a young intern in the White House? And will Al Gore benefit or suffer from the President's legacy?
A president cannot be held accountable for the performance of an economy -- stronger forces than the will of one man are at work. Voters seem to forget this: otherwise, President Bush would probably have served a second term.
Michael Crimi, USA
Bill will be remembered as a classic American ruthless in pursuit of what he believes and doing a perfect job in reshaping the entertainment industry through his sex scandal.
I think we all should remember, what he did for the country and the people. Everybody has something hidden about their personal life.
We have a saying, "All is well that ends well". In spite of all the sensationalism if Clinton escapes any convictions over Monicagate, he will be remembered as a symbol of Happy times and prosperity. That is why his political opponents do not want his tenure to end well, they will continue to hound him and smear his legacy.
Rajendra Shenoy, Germany
He will be remembered as a very headstrong American who survived several sex scandals but who kept moving up the political ladder, meaning his sex-life was not so much of an issue to Americans.
Clinton will be remembered by the good he did, the enemies he made, and the fair and mostly foul means they used to bring him down. In history, Clinton's personal misdeeds will merely be a punctuation mark.
A great president who improved the lot of minorities in particular and Americans in general, and attempted to bring peace to Ireland and the Middle East. The exposure of the Lewinsky affair only goes to prove that America is indeed a country that enjoys complete freedom of the press.
His family might not remember him as a good president.
As a Sri Lankan, I will remember him as a man who pleased a woman in Sri Lanka, the president, and missed a chance to solve the crisis in that country
Some of us will remember Clinton for
his affairs with 'M'; whilst others for his
unquestionable leadership skill that
no other government leader could ever
have. However, we all wish he
was the only president of this planet.
Walter Omariba, Canada
I see the favourable comments on this man mostly come from citizens of other countries. The celebrity status is not what many of us want in the Presidency. We would prefer someone of honour and for this reason in the poll done last year Clinton rated very low as a President, lower than even Nixon. We all know how history is going to remember him, and it could get worse if the truth in many outstanding matters can find the light of day.
As a passive observer, I watched in disbelief while the "Monicagate" scandal unfolded, and I have to say that the scandal will tarnish the memory of the whole term in office. Clinton won't be remembered as the man who cut unemployment to a record low. Nor even for rebuilding strong relations with Russia.
Clinton helps me to appreciate the great, near-great, and good presidents. Not everybody is suited for Mount Rushmore.
Steve Dooley, England
I see all the comments here from various people about Bill's political achievements but it is a sad fact of life that famous and influential people are almost always remembered far more for their scandal and failures than anything else.
There's another Bill responsible for the great prosperity we're having. Bill Gates is his name!!!
As a man of great compassion and great appetites. I am sorry the policies he cared about were mostly thwarted by the right-leaning Congress - he could have made much more of a difference otherwise!
A good President who went through a midlife crisis and got carried away - but who's perfect?
Nobody has mentioned that Clinton has been the most environmentally friendly President in over 100 years. Not since Teddy Roosevelt has a President exercised his rights so often under the Antiquities Act - creating several national monuments. I shudder to think of the US environment in the hands of GW Bush.
No President will satisfy no one individual fully. I remember Ethiopia's newspaper cartoon pages cartoonising his scandal like many other countries.
As for me... I think he is a great president...did a lot for America!
Most of you do not have a clue what has happened in the United States these last eight years. Bill Clinton will be remembered for how he has severely divided this nation. You may think of him as a king, but remember, three branches of government rule this nation of which the last four years the legislative branch - which by the way is the opposing party to Bill Clinton - is the reason for the economic reforms that have brought on this so-called great economy. All Bill did was agree to what the republicans sent to him to sign into law. Bill has been basically a lame duck trying to build on his legacy.
How will Bill Clinton be remembered?
He will be remembered as Nick in Big Brother, a liar, cheat and manipulator, two-faced President.
But when he was caught on like Nick, he apologised that is how you know a great Leader, which he was indeed. I give him kudos for his economic achievements and the global peace related events
As a President, I considered him an embarrassment for our country. But there is still hope, or at least I like to think so. Consider ex-President Carter. While in office he did little to be well remembered for, but in his post-presidency days, he achieved true greatness as a man and in his actions.
Ward Abel, USA
Clinton will be about as memorable as John Major will be in 20 years.
US Politics can be compared to Jerry Springer in its public portrayal - all hype and shock values. Bill Clinton has probably been one of the most under-rated Presidents of the 20th century and has been praised for his fair conduct in office by a number of organisations. Unfortunately - for him, he will only be remembered for his overactive hormones, cigars and the fact that he, "did not have sexual relations with Monica Lewinski".
He'll be remembered as a mass murderer of Serbian (and Iraqi) people, a liar, a thief, a thug and a bad husband to his (even worse) wife - to mention a few things.
J.D., Oklahoma, USA
Being the first post Cold War President, Clinton has never had to develop or show his skills in dealing with the former Soviet Union.
We have not seen him in an East-West crisis situation, or involved with the complexities of "detente", which could either make or break other US Presidents.
In the absence of this I think he will be remembered only for his adultery and overriding infidelity.
Under the Clinton administration, enough hi-tech military technology was given, sold, and fumbled away to China that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg might blush. President Clinton's face will not appear on Mt. Rushmore.
As the comeback kid from a poor background, whom the American political elite, especially the Republicans, hated. A friend of the poor who dared visit Africa twice.
Clinton will be remembered for his great works!!!!
I am amused that you are asking how Clinton should be remembered. There are those of us who believe he should best be forgotten. He didn't balance the budget; Congress forced him to. And it is a travesty to ask us to believe that HE ALONE was responsible for the economic boom in the USA. What rubbish!! However, if you ask me which American president was the biggest liar and which American president down-graded the White House to a cheap brothel then my answer to you is quite simple - Bill Clinton.
It takes a great achiever to sustain an 8 year term of office with the turmoil that is brought about by the rapid global changing scenario that we are living. It takes, at least, another 8years to find out whether anybody betters this record. When a week in politics is a lifetime, 8 years are of infinite parameters.
He will be remembered with regret if the great US electorate choose G. Bush Jr and the rest of the big oil crowd.
Well, he certainly won't be remembered as the president who brought health care to the American people, as he promised. Nor will he be remembered for promoting human rights abroad, as best evidenced through our flawed relationship with nations such as China and Burma.
Clinton will be remembered as a scandal-ridden president who used his appointees in the Justice Department to protect himself and his friends; who managed to lose the House of Representatives for his party for the first time in decades; and who bombed a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory in order to distract the nation's attention from his criminal activities. He also has given the language two new slang terms for obscene sexual activities.
This man should be allowed a third term. He very well deserves it.
Clinton did many good things, like balance the budget and let the country enjoy a long period of prosperity. He might have done millions of good things, BUT his affair with that intern will be the only thing that will go down in history that will be associated with his presidency. Too bad but it's an undeniable truth.
Bill Clinton will be remembered as Bill Clinton: A guy who came out of poverty to become the great president of the USA. A Child of the 60's who ran away from the military, lied and had sex in the White House, not someone to have my son be like.
Bill Clinton will always be remembered as a selfless man like Princess Diana, a practical man, a man with that human touch who put people first. Forget the Lewinsky saga and focus on his contribution to the world, especially the Middle East peace talks. Focus also on the quest to ease the 3rd World debt and improve trade relations with the rest of the world. Not only did Bill want Americans to enjoy the fruits of his economic success but the rest of the world too.
A indecisive President who was afraid to take a stand on any important issues.
Bill Clinton - A man who dedicated most of his time to make peace. His affair with Monica is not a good thing to do, he lied, but did anybody die out of this? He is one of the best leaders the world would ever get. I wish Africa had 2 leaders of his kind.
Rich Vose, USA
Sex, lies and video tape (evidence).
President Clinton will mostly likely not be remembered at all. Does anyone remember Millard Filmore? It seems no one remembers anything past the last payday anymore. There's a lot to be said for tradition. That is why I read the BBC.
Truth is that Clinton is a liar...when confronted about marijuana...he didn't inhale...when confronted about Monica, he did not have sexual relations. But, the American public love the man, they see right past the lies and deception, and will remember him as a great President due to his economic policies. I think that as the leader of the American superpower, he should have been honest or impeached.
Kofi Ellison, USA via Ghana
How will Bill Clinton be remembered? Like the epitome of a politician - an actor doing an actors job
Such promise, such talents betrayed by a system that calls itself a democracy but is in reality a big business oligarchy. America is a little richer for his term in office. Such a shame he does not have a worthy Democratic. It is likely that George W will be turning the clock back to the deficit ridden, anti abortion, gung-ho Reagan years.
Darshan Ruikar, India
Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles really summed up his presidency - the man who turned the serious art of governing a nation into show business. Clinton came to power in a country with an already improving economy and then clung desperately to the limelight by means of spin over substance and ludicrously semantic denials of his own failings. Sound familiar to those living in the UK?
Clinton will be remembered as a brilliant and influential president who turn around the US economy, his shrewdness to overcome congress impeachment over Monica Lewinsky, his historical visit to African countries and his support for Middle East peace.
Lying under oath, not really a good example to set the American people.
I think his ineffectiveness has been America's greatest strength. With the government not doing much, everything seems to work much better.
In spite of the Republican Party's on-going "need" to exact pay-back (for Nixon's Watergate), Bill Clinton prospered!
A liar who was found out.
Gastone Rusiha, Rwanda
Clinton will be remembered generally fondly. His only mistake was getting found out over Monicagate (Kennedy happily avoided such embarrassment before his assassination). The economy has flourished and there has been a greater liberalisation in some quarters of American society. Sadly the Republican majority in Congress has made many of Clinton's ideals unrealisable (for instance he could not force through any significant gun laws) but the overall effect of the Clinton era is an improved America. And that is before you even go into the good he has done in Ireland and the Middle East. Well done Bill, and God help America if they elect Bush!
President Clinton should be remembered for his achievements in boosting the US economy, world affairs. He is an incredible survivor.
A great politician and head and shoulders above both Reagan and Bush. Flawed, certainly, but always humane. The US will miss him when he's gone.
I'll certainly remember him as the most aged president. He looked young back in '92. The ravages of office certainly took their toll, not to mention the non-inhaled marijhauna and various women.
A child of the sixties, who excelled himself in making love, rather than in making war!
In S.A I'll remember him standing along our then president Nelson Mandela. It meant a lot to me as a South-African to see the president of the United States with the father of South-Africa.
He'll also be remembered for getting the peace process back on track in Northern Ireland and the Middle-East. Although it did not succeed but he really tried. For me he is not the best president America ever had, but he sure tried. All the good presidents in America had controversy around their neck.
Christine, South Africa
Whatever one thinks of his achievements as a president, Clinton is the ultimate politician, a master of the arts of political presentation and persuasion. Ironically, for all his glitzy presentation, I feel he has had most impact as a backroom dealer and charmer.
Duncan Drury, UK
Clinton will be remembered for the way he redefined our opinion of other presidents. What we have is a man who by comparison makes the Kennedy's look moral, Nixon appear ethical and Jimmy Carter seem effective and intelligent.
God bless you Bill, and all you sail with! A peacemaker, an equaliser and a shrewd economic sense gave America what it so desperately needed after the right wing madness of Bush. He may not have secured free trade with Cuba, but he gave their largest export market a boost. On ya, Bill!
President Clinton will amount to a footnote in history. All of his domestic endeavours, such as the establishment of a health service, were blocked by a hostile Congress. His international policy was little more than formulaic American bullying, and could have been carried out by a computer. His shenanigans in latching onto the peace process in Northern Ireland were far too one-sided and even his extensive efforts in the Middle East produced little.
Peter Frost, South Africa
I think he will be remembered as the only American President who cared about the misery of the people in the third world especially Black Africa. As the only American President to officially visit Africa south of the Sahara.
He will go down as the man who made America vain and
egocentric and not willing to deal with the outside world. He encouraged the US to
use its financial muscle to dictate to the world how it should live and any difference
of opinion is not to be tolerated. Wake up America and get a president with
compassion not just passion.
It doesn't say much for American political
awareness that most of them seem to be obsessed
with the image of the White House and not the content.
I thought that Britain was morally naive with all the furore a minor "sex scandal"
creates; but this is nothing compared with
the American publics childish obsession with image.
For merciless bombing campaigns to distract attention from him NOT 'having sexual relations with that woman'. For supporting Israel as they broke numerous UN Resolutions in order to gain the political support of the New York Jewish Vote. For his love for a fine Cuban Cigar!
A good president.
It was the people like Kenneth Starr that were consistently trying to smear him that made the USA look stupid - not Clinton himself. He is a president of the modern generation - post Vietnam war - apart from the sexual dalliances he is a president for future leaders to model themselves on.
In Palestine and Israel, he'll probably be remembered as a man who went an extra mile to broker the peace process but would only end up spending so much on the guests and nothing tangible would be realised in the end. And of course the Monica saga will always crown it all.
Grace Akello, Uganda
The case could be made that President Clinton's involvement in securing an end to the terrorism in Northern Ireland will be his lasting legacy. On the other hand, the case could reasonably be made that the fact that he did not resign following his perjury to a Grand Jury shows that President Clinton was never fit to hold the office in the first place.
Politics seems to attract certain kinds of people-frequently foolish, stupid, arrogant, corrupt or egomaniacal people. At least compared to his predecessors, Clinton seems a good deal less stupid, arrogant or egomaniacal.
L. Loukopoulos, USA
I think people in the US should thank him for the economic boom and political superiority that they enjoy. Monica Lewinsky affair should not even be compared with those great efforts he has done for his country and for the world.
He will be remembered for two phrases: (1) "I feel your pain"; and (2) "I did not have sexual relations with that woman Miss Lewinsky."
He came, he ruled, he conquered. The last 8 years have been magnificent in terms of economy. Due credit should be and will be given to Mr. Clinton for his effort in taking this country to a new level. People should not confuse his profession with his personal life. He will be remembered the way Mr. JFK is.
Chris Cormier, Canada
A very lucky man who took credit for what Bill Gates did for the American economy.
A president who combined an excellent economic record with a human face. Here in Russia he was so popular that he could have beaten any Russian politician up until his Kosovo flier. A leading newspaper even launched a humorist folk song contest in his support in the midst of the Lewinsky scandal and hundreds of people responded, ridiculing the morality-obsessed American conservatives.
His extramarital encounters only reflect the prevailing sexual norms in the US but his shameful bombing misadventures against Afghanistan and Sudan and his pompous behaviour in Pakistan served to show the true character of the man: shallow, opportunist and a teller of lies.
Well, the first president to be impeached. What else can I say?
He will be remembered as one more amateur actor in the USA Presidency. The consortiums do not need professionals anymore to fool the American people.
A great leader with great achievements but almost lost his presidency due to the Monica Lewinsky affair which will become as famous as the the Watergate scandal.
I agree that he lied but isn't it that generally what all politicians do, regardless of nationality?
Clinton will be remembered as lucky, a liar and a cheat. He will be remembered as the presidency most influenced by small interest groups. Mickey Mouse could have been president of the USA in the 90's and their economy would still have boomed.
Forget the economy, forget the sexual escapades, Billl Clinton should be remembered for the strength of character he displayed while under continual attack during the time the opposition sought to have him impeached. To carry on successfully doing the job while being the subject of such widespread ridicule and abuse is indeed a great achievement.
T.J. Cassidy, USA
Clinton did many good things for his country. However, it is very unfortunate that he will be remembered for the Lewinsky scandal.
His Republican opponents, bitter at George Bush's defeat, waged war on
Clinton from day one and succeeded in ensuring that he will be remembered for
a personal mistake rather than his political and economic achievements.
Of course, Lewinsky will be remembered as a victim, when it is clear to anyone
who studies the facts that she was just as much to blame as Clinton for what went on.
I just watched the speeches made by Bill and Hillary Clinton at the Democratic convention last night. Although, there was justifiable pride in the strength of the economy, there was also a sense of sadness at having to give up on so much of what they worked hard to achieve, like a fairer and more equitable health care system, and (possibly) a final peace in the Middle East. I think Bill Clinton was a competent manager but in terms of vision was frustrated by the Republican Congress.
I was in the US in 1992 and was aware that the fundamentals for a prolonged economic boom were in place.
Ironically, it is President Clinton, the inheritor of the previous administration's efforts, who will be remembered for delivering the results.
President Clinton will probably be remembered as the U.S. politician who pioneered the art of making things work for his country despite a majority in Congress who were preoccupied with discrediting him. He ran circles around his opposition. On the other hand, he may also be remembered as the U.S. President who was least competent at concealing his extramarital indiscretions.
Ross Chmiel, UK
I think Bill Clinton as looked at Americas best interests at all times, And his affair will be looked at as a glitch in his life as his wife seems to have forgiven him. But we must remember both as a couple are politically motivated and would
stick it out for political gains. All in all Clinton a done better than his predecessors
Dave Adams, USA
Bill Clinton is the most incompetent, corrupt and immoral President in my lifetime, probably in US history. He is the greatest con-man ever to occupy the office. If you think you have heard about his scandals, just wait until he is out of office and those who know detail are free to speak without intimidation.
Well he made a mockery of his position over Monica, he made a mockery of American "justice" over Monica, he made a mockery of himself over Monica... need I go on?
President Clinton will be remembered in many ways. In all ways he will be remembered as one among the God-favoured and best leaders of the 20th/21st Century. It is just impossible to rationalise the reasons why the world adores this man!
Kris Langley, USA
Bill Clinton will be remembered like all other people in politics or the public eye, for what he did that was unusual. Many presidents or world leaders preside over a period of prosperity or otherwise which may be none of their making but a function of world events which can never be completely within anyone's control. However to drag your country's name through the mire and to "expose the presidency" of the USA as the sham of hypocrisy, that in my opinion, takes real talent.
In time Clinton's indiscretions will be seen in relation to dalliances of politicians past and future and will be found to be only mildly interesting. When time moves on Clinton will be more interesting to Media students than students of Economics or Politics.
I think Bill Clinton will be remembered as a great president. Americans are enjoying a great economy surplus after a long time with huge Federal Surplus. Overall I rate him as a great president for bringing the people of the world together!
I think that it will take at least a generation for Americans and historians to look at Bill Clinton's presidency objectively because of his inability to keep his pants zipped when so many people were out to smear him.
Shawna Lanne, USA
Going through the e-mails, it was surprising
to note that most American mails were quite bitter
about the Bill Clinton. For me, he was a skilful politician,
who messed around and got caught doing it. I am not sure
that you can hold him responsible for the booming economy, just as
Al Gore "invented" the internet, but at the same time could you hold
him responsible for the increase in gas prices? It also seems that he
has increased the range of participation of minorities in various part of the government and
is generally regarded as their friend, right-wingers call him soft on that issue.
Bill Clinton successes are obvious to the onlooker, he kept the economy running, he reduced the debt of the US by balancing the budget, introduced tax cuts and worked hard for peace in this world. But the Monica Lewinsky affair will always be remembered. But give this man the credit he deserves rightly, for his never ending campaign to make life in the US and the world better for everyone.
Clinton will be remembered as a president with enormous political capabilities but like college going kids habits in personal life.
Surely it depends who you ask! To me, he'll be just another American president in a long line of presidents. He made mistakes and probably did some good along the way. Pretty average, really.
Ask again in 20 years.
In the short term, President Clinton will be remembered as the leader who brought back prosperity to the States, who orchestrated the economic conditions to create million of jobs and who was also got caught with his pants down!
A sleazy, lying American politician?
Nicholas Bradley, UK
'Cavorting with a young intern'? Well that's a jolly way to colour Mr. Clinton's disgraceful conduct that had little to do with having oral sex with a woman young enough to be his daughter. Rather it was his committing a felony, PERJURY, in a court case. This from someone who took a OATH to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and who is the nation's chief law enforcement officer. This, then, is the tragic legacy of this profoundly self-absorbed man.
Bill who?? I think I have already forgotten him!
Bill Clinton will be remembered as a moral vacuum.
Kevin Jones, USA
As a man who only matured with time.
He'll be remembered by me as a socialist that divided our country
within and made it look foolish to the world!
From the point of view of someone under the age of 20, I thing that Clinton will be remembered by my generation for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I asked a few of my friends the for the name of Mr Clinton's daughter, wife, party name and anything else they knew about him. most knew his wife's name and a few his daughter's. No one knew the party name or any political facts relating to him. Everyone mentioned Monica!!!
Compared to what the Kennedys got up to, Clinton is a saint.
Workmanlike. The impeachment will be seen as the vindictive, partisan nonsense it was, but he hardly rates a 'greatness' tag. Pragmatic and capable, perhaps. But where was the vision thing?
Rahul Mahajan, UK
For not having 'sexual relations with that woman'.
Clinton's great achievements have been evident both at home and abroad. The great task - "it's the economy, stupid!" - of balancing the budget was achieved with some ease; there is now a massive budget surplus in the USA's coffers.
His (potential) achievements in securing peace or at least ceasefires in the Middle East and in Ireland overshadow the continuing difficulties in ex-Yugoslavia and Iraq, but he has shown that America is not afraid to become involved in protracted foreign policy issues.
I rather suspect that Senator Lieberman was correct when he said that Clinton's great achievements make his personal indiscretions all the more unfortunate.
A brilliant president but a flawed man. A man preyed upon by parasites who would amount to nothing on their behalf
I think he will be remembered as a good and influential president, who was the intended victim of shrewd political manoeuvring, but survived!
15 Aug 00 | Americas
Clinton bids Democrats farewell
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