chapter  6
52 Pages

The Clinton Administration

WithRichard A. Melanson

In 1996 Bill Clinton became the first Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt to win re-election. Neither of his victories produced clear mandates to govern, for he failed on each occasion to capture a majority of the popular vote. After a brief flirtation with McGovernism as a student at Yale Law School, Bill Clinton began searching for ways to move the Democratic Party beyond the nostrums of the New Deal. Narrowly defeated in a bid for a House seat in 1974 and elected Arkansas attorney general two years later, in 1978 Clinton became the nation’s youngest governor in three decades. His performance in Little Rock foreshadowed that of his presidency in both style and content. As members of the Carter administration, Christopher, Lake, Albright, and Berger had agonized over whether to send troops to Nicaragua, Iran, and the Horn of Africa.