Folks, we are very much looking at the possibility that — the coming months — real history will get made. Sure, sure, first female president, yada yada yada that’s all very good. The real joy will be seeing Bill Clinton enter the White House as the country’s first ever First Gentleman of the United States. Of course, we all know that “Gentleman” is a stretch. He’s more like the first fella. That’s not a slight against the President, understand. It’s hard to imagine a modern President with more flare than Bill, and now that he’s got absolutely zero legislative influence it’s incredibly easy to love the guy, regardless of your political leanings. All that stuff about besmirching the office of the President, that’s in the past! It’s time to get on board and root for this fella to join Hillary in the Oval Office. After all, you know what the alternative is likely to be. Yeesh. Here are a few facts about Bill you might not know.
1. His Father Died Before He Was Born
When baby Bill was born on August 19, 1946, he came into the world without a dad. Unfortunately, several months earlier his father Bill Blythe (who had a bit of a shifty reputation) ran his car off the road and into a drainage ditch. Tragically, the man drowned while trying to exit the vehicle. So Clinton was actually born with the name William Jefferson Blythe III.
2. He Was Raised By Two Strong Women
Early in his life, Clinton spent most of his time in his grandmother’s Arkansas home. While his mother, Virginia, was “a vivacious and fun-loving free spirit,” she was often in New Orleans to take nursing classes. During these absences, Clinton’s grandmother, “a temperamental and strong-willed disciplinarian, tried to shape her grandson’s character.” Whether or not she ultimately succeeded is up for debate.
3. His Step-Father Wasn’t a Good Guy
Never let it be said that President Clinton hasn’t had to overcome his fair share of serious obstacles. When Clinton was four, his mother married Roger Clinton, “a car dealer and abusive alcoholic.” His mother divorced Clinton when Bill was 15, but the separation was short-lived and they remarried. That’s when Bill took the name Clinton.
4. He Met Kennedy
Kennedy and Clinton are considered two of the most popular Democratic Presidents of the modern age (behind, maybe FDR, but it’s a horse race). Of course, knowing that, their meeting during Clinton’s senior year in high school was oddly prophetic. Clinton had been invited to Washington D.C. as part of the prestigious Boy’s State program.
5. His Mother Told Him What To Expect
Clinton has recalled several times that — as a child — his mother, Virginia, repeatedly told him that he was one day destined to be President of the United States. Though she eventually passed away from breast cancer, Virginia Clinton lived long enough to see her son take the Oath of Office.
6. He Only Applied to One College
His eyes dead-set on a career in big time politics, Clinton knew there was only one place he could go, and that was Georgetown. So, he only applied there, and managed to work his way through by paying the tuition with odd jobs. He earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford and later attended law school at Yale.
7. He Lost the Chase For College President
Though most of his classmates looked down their noses at Clinton because of his backwoods upbringing, he had to work extra hard to win them over, which he managed to do almost breezily, winning his freshman and sophomore year elections. Unfortunately, during junior year his classmates had, for some reason, decided that Clinton was a little unctuous and voted for another candidate.
8. He Was Drafted For Vietnam
While he was attending Oxford University on a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, Clinton received his draft notice. Returning home to Arkansas, Clinton called in some help from Senator J. William Fulbright (who he’d clerked for) and Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller to, ahem, sidestep that particular dilemma. It should be noted that the decision haunted him so much he actually put himself up for the draft some time later.
9. He Lost His First Race
After four years spent earning his law degree from Yale Law and working on a series of national campaigns, Bill Clinton attempted to oust veteran incumbent John Paul Hammerschmidt in Arkansas. Though he eventually lost, it was the closest the popular Republican had ever come to losing his post over the course of a 26-year career.
10. He’s the Youngest Former Governor in History
In 1978, in a shocking upset, thirty-two-year-old Clinton made history when he won the governor’s election at an incredibly young age. Unfortunately, the inexperienced Clinton “had several missteps, including difficulties in handling rioting among Cuban refugees … [raising] auto license fees to pay for road construction and [alienating] the state’s powerful timber interests by an unsuccessful intervention in the controversy over the practice of clear-cutting.” Subsequently, voters outed Clinton in the next election, making him the proud owner of the dubious title of youngest former governor.
11. He’s a Lefty
Both Bill Clinton and the man he replaced, George H.W. Bush, are left-handed. In fact, the two men hold the honor (such that it is) of being the only consecutive left-handed Presidents in U.S. history. Oddly enough, the two men are also both 6’2 and “tied for fourth place among the listing of tallest presidents.”
12. He’s Won Two Grammys
Clinton has two Grammy awards on his mantel, one for his spoken word version of “Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf”, and the other for “My Life”, the audio version of his autobiography.
13. He Made Democrats Cool Again
Hey, like it or not, whether you think it’s appropriate or not, Bill Clinton is a cool mother … well, you know. The American people thought so, too (for most of his Presidency, at least). In 1996, he became the first President since FDR to win a second term in office. That’s a length of 60 years with only one term Dems in the White House, broken by a fatherless kid from the backwoods of Arkansas.
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