America Confronts the Post-Cold War Era
I. Bill Clinton: the First Baby-Boomer President
In 1992, the Democrats chose Bill Clinton as their candidate (despite accusations of
womanizing, drug use, and draft evasion) and Albert Gore, Jr. as his running mate.
The Democrats tried a new approach, promoting growth, strong defense, and anticrime
policies while campaigning to stimulate the economy.
The Republicans dwelt on “family values” and selected Bush for another round and J.
Danforth Quayle as his running mate. They claimed that “character matters” and so
Clinton and his baggage should not be elected.
Third party candidate Ross Perot added color to the election by getting 19,742,267 votes
in the election (no electoral votes, though), but Clinton won, 370 to 168 in the Electoral
Democrats also got control of both the House and the Senate.
Congress and the presidential cabinet were filled with minorities and more women,
including the first female attorney general ever, Janet Reno, Secretary of Health and
Human Services Donna Shalala, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Supreme Court
II. A False Start for Reform
Upon entering office, Clinton called for accepting homosexuals in the armed forces, but
finally had to settle for a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that unofficially accepted gays and
Clinton also appointed his wife, Hillary, to revamp the nation’s health and medical care
system, and when it was revealed in October 1993, critics blasted it as cumbersome,
confusing, and unpractical, thus suddenly making Hillary Rodham Clinton a liability
whereas before, she had been a full, equal political partner of her husband.
By 1996, Clinton had shrunk the federal deficit to its lowest level in a decade, and in
1993, he passed a gun-control law called the Brady Bill, named after presidential aide
James Brady who had been wounded in President Reagan’s attempted assassination.
In July 1994, Clinton persuaded Congress to pass a $30 billion anticrime bill.
During the decade, a radical Muslim group bombed the World Trade Center in New
York, killing six. An American terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, bombed the federal building in
Oklahoma in 1995, taking 169 lives. And a fiery standoff at Waco, Texas, between the
government and the Branch Davidian religious cult ended in a huge fire that killed men,
women, and children.
By this time, few Americans trusted the government, the reverse of the WWII
III. The Politics of Distrust
In 1994, Newt Gingrich led Republicans on a sweeping attack of Clinton’s liberal failures
with a conservative “Contract with America,” and that year, Republicans won all