William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton was elected President in 1992. His opponent was incumbent George Herbert-Walker Bush (father of George W, who would himself become President eight years later), whose popularity suffered at the time due to economic recession and the breaking of his famous “read my lips” tax promise. Clinton had previously served as Governor of the state of Arkansas, the youngest person to do so in some 40 years.
Clinton dearly needed his legendary charisma and silver tongue right from the beginning, as his political opponents often targeted his character with accusations of draft dodging, marital infidelity, and marijuana use during his college days. Struggling with an unfriendly Republican majority in congress after 1994, he found it difficult to get much legislation passed, though he did enjoy a few notable accomplishments. The Family and Medical Leave Act, and the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy concerning homosexuals serving in the military both occurred under his watch.
With his popularity on the ropes by the end of his first term, owing in no small part to public loathing of healthcare reform he ardently tried – and ultimately failed – to pass through congress, Clinton's chances in the '96 elections seemed dubious. He once again mobilized his gift for public speaking and demonstrated his skill in the game of politics, however, and against the odds, managed to defeat Republican nominee Bob Dole at the ballot box.
Clinton's second term in office was dominated by scandal, as allegations surfaced that he had carried on a sexual affair while President with 22 year old White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Though he originally denied the charges, in time he admitted that they were true. The Republican congressional majority pressed the issue tirelessly, arguing that Clinton had tarnished his station by carrying on the affair within the Oval Office itself. The American public quickly tired of these accusations and investigations. With popular opinion at the time viewing Clinton sympathetically as the subject of a witch hunt, his approval rating actually improved considerably in the midst of the scandal. Nevertheless, Republicans chose not to back down, and Bill Clinton became only the second President in history to be impeached by congress (the first was Andrew Johnson in 1868). However, the Senate would eventually acquit him of all charges.
Despite the scandal, Clinton was generally well-liked and viewed favorably when he left office. During his presidency, the United States enjoyed an economic boom, with low unemployment and inflation and high rates of home ownership among Americans. As a former President, he is remembered in equal parts for having presided over this time of plenty as well as for his sexual indiscretions, so that he now has a reputation as both a competent statesman and excessively amorous individual.