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Clinton, William J. (1946–)

THE PRESIDENCY of Bill Clinton, which presidential history scholars have called “puzzling” and “bizarre,” will go down in American history as unique in a number of ways. Before Clinton took office, it was taken for granted that 20th-century presidents would have served in the military. Not only had Clinton failed to serve in the military, he had actually avoided the draft. Supporters of Republican candidate George H. W. Bush (1924–) hired airplanes to hover over Clinton campaign rallies displaying banners suggesting that voters should not vote for a “draft dodger.”

While Clinton campaigners were generally aggressive, they neglected to put the Republican accusation in the context of widespread distaste for military duty as the Vietnam War became more and more unpopular. Clinton was also criticized for ...

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