The Clinton Legacy

By Colin Campbell; Bert A. Rockman | Go to book overview

8
Race, Gender, and the Clinton Presidency

VIRGINIA SAPIRO AND DAVID T. CANON

Thank you, my friends, for years of friendship.

-- PresidentBill Clinton speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus, 19 September 1998

As the old saying goes, "When you are down on your luck, you find out who your real friends are." In his tumultuous second term, President Clinton learned that among his best friends are African Americans and women. This support was first evident in his initial election to the presidency in 1992, when an overwhelming majority of blacks and a substantial plurality of women voted for Clinton over George Bush and Ross Perot, 1 and was maintained through the 1994, 1996, and 1998 elections. Some of the strongest images of this unshakable support among blacks and women occurred in 1998 during the turbulence surrounding the Lewinsky affair. Consider the dramatic night of the 1998 State of the Union message, when allegations of the Lewinsky affair had just exploded in Washington, leaving many congressional Democrats scrambling for cover and unwilling to offer their public support to the president. In stark contrast, many members of the Congressional Black Caucus, in their eagerness to show their support, arrived several hours before the speech so they could grab the seats on the aisle and shake the president's hand as he walked toward the podium. 2 Similarly, 1998 was punctuated with images of top-level women politicians and women's movement leaders

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