The Clinton Presidency
by DCDave

The Clinton Presidency (college history text style)

From American Passages, Vol. 2, from 1863 (a college history textbook), by Edward L. Ayers, Lewis L. Gould, David M. Oshinsky, and Jena R. Soderlund. (Fort Worth: Harcourt College Publishers, 2000). The section excerpted was written by Professor Emeritus Gould of the University of Texas, a Yale Ph.D.


Clinton's presidency faltered even before he took office. As one of his first announced priorities, the president-elect indicated that he intended to lift the longstanding ban against declared homosexuals serving in the armed forces. After much debate within the military, the Clinton administration adopted a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" approach in which gay personnel would not be asked about their sexual orientation and should not be openly homosexual. This stance contradicted Clinton's election appeal as a moderate rather than a liberal Democrat, and the religious right began an assault on the president and his wife that would continue throughout the next four years. Several embarrassing problems with the selection of women and minorities for cabinet and sub-cabinet positions caused an appearance of presidential disarray to form around Clinton that further impeded his ability to govern. After he was inaugurated, an armed confrontation between agents of the Bureau of Alcohol and Firearms and members of the Branch Davidian religious sect outside Waco, Texas, in April led to the fiery deaths of many of the Davidians. Opponents of gun control and the federal government contended that the Clinton administration envisioned dictatorial rule. That fear on the far right further fed discontent with the new president.

pp. 1121-1122 Clinton's Political Troubles

Despite his domestic accomplishments, President Clinton's popular approval ratings remained low, often under 50 percent of the electorate. From the political right, the president and his wife stirred dislike that bordered on outright hatred. Republicans charged that the Clintons were socialists bent on entrenching homosexuals, bureaucrats, and atheists in power in Washington. When an aide to the president, Vincent Foster, committed suicide during the summer of 1993, right-wing talk show hosts circulated wild and unfounded rumors that Foster had been murdered at the instructions of the president and his wife.

More serious were the charges of financial impropriety and ethical lapses that dogged the Clintons from their years in Arkansas. Investments that they had made in an Arkansas real estate venture on the Whitewater River became entangled with the failed savings and loan firm run by business associates of the Clintons, James and Susan McDougald. Federal regulators grew interested in these transactions, and in 1993 press reports disclosed that the Clintons could be named as potential witnesses and even targets of an investigation. Charges soon surfaced that an effort at a cover-up had been mounted from the White House. The all-purpose label for these and other related "scandals" was "Whitewater." Investigators also looked into Mrs. Clinton's profitable trades in commodity futures in the 1970s. The willingness to investigate what the president and his family had done before taking office marked a new step in how the political opposition treated the incumbent chief executive.

The charges against the Clintons led to the appointment of an independent counsel or special prosecutor in 1994. The first counsel was a Republican named Robert Fiske. When he concluded that Vincent Foster's death was a suicide, angry conservatives had him replaced with another counsel, Kenneth Starr, a former federal judge and solicitor general during the Bush administration. Starr's probe explored the Arkansas connections of the Clintons in a number of areas that threatened further political harm to the president and his wife.

p. 1129 Tragedy in Oklahoma City

Then a national tragedy shifted the political landscape. On April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City blew up, killing 168 people inside. Two suspects, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, were quickly arrested and identified as having links with an extremist "militia" movement that sought the violent overthrow of the government of the United States. The public learned that small groups of militia met secretly in the countryside to practice guerilla warfare against the day when the ZOG (Zionist Occupied Government) in Washington would precipitate the final confrontation on behalf of the United Nations and the "New World Order." The glare of publicity revealed that the militia movement, while violent and dangerous, commanded only a small cadre of followers. Still, the social tensions in the country intensified in the wake of the Oklahoma City massacre.

The aftermath of the bombing enabled President Clinton to regain a position of trust and confidence with the American people. He went out to Oklahoma City in the wake of the tragedy and participated in the ceremony of national mourning for the victims. Clinton's speech on that occasion struck a resonant note of national healing, and identified the president with the broad political center of the country. The two suspects, McVeigh and Nichols, were both tried and convicted for their roles in the bombing. 

This paperback volume, which begins on page 495, is 652 pages long and costs $59.65 at the University of Maryland, where it is assigned in a course taught by Professor Howard Smead. Many of the pages are dominated by pictures, which complement the baby-talk prose. About half of p. 1121 shows Itzak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shaking hands with Clinton between them, arms outstretched, apparently bringing them together. The caption says only, "In a troubled first year in office, a handshake between two Middle Eastern enemies at the White House represented one of the foreign policy successes for the Clinton administration."

Slightly more than a quarter of p. 1122 is taken up by a color photograph of Vincent W. Foster, Jr., the official one with the flag behind him that he had sent to the Wall Street Journal. The caption this time is, "The suicide of Vincent Foster in July 1993 was a traumatic event for those who knew the White House attorney and the speculation about a possible murder and cover-up fueled the anti-Clinton fervor on the right that dominated the next six years."

Think of all the money our young people must pay to be shoveled this blatant propaganda, when they can read the truth in "America's Dreyfus Affair, the Case of the Death of Vincent Foster" for free on the Net, or learn even more at

Notice that the FBI is nowhere to be found in Professor Gould's version of the Waco massacre.

The early reports of Timothy McVeigh's ties to militia groups, which the text echoes here, were later found to be untrue. If the authorities thought McVeigh was connected to some subversive organiztion, it is indeed curious that they used none of the testimony of the numerous witnesses who saw McVeigh in Oklahoma City in the company of others on the day of the bombing. The FBI, in fact, seemed to demonstrate next to no interest in finding out who might be pulling McVeigh's strings. Might this be connected to the fact that BATF informant, Carol Howe, has testified that she heard people at the Neo-Nazi compound, Elohim City, talk about bombing a building in Oklahoma City before the bombing took place. At the same trial, it was revealed that the head of Elohim City was on the payroll of the FBI.

The folks at the University of Maryland ought to be embarrassed to be caught shoveling the sort of propagandistic manure one finds in this very poor excuse for a college history text. Are there other textbooks and other colleges out there like them?.

David Martin
August 10, 2000

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