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AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Clinton, Parts One & Two

Airs Tuesdays, May 8 & 15, 2012 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the background.

Credit: Courtesy of WGBH/William J. Clinton Presidential Library

Above: William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the background.

From draft dodging to the Dayton Accords, from Monica Lewinsky to a balanced budget, the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton veered between sordid scandal and grand achievement.

Timeline

View a timeline of events from Clinton's years in office, 1992-2000.

In "Clinton" (May 8th and May 15th), the latest installment in the critically acclaimed and successful series of presidential biographies, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE explores the fascinating story of an American president who rose from a broken childhood in Arkansas to become one of the most successful politicians in modern American history and one of the most complex and conflicted characters to ever stride across the public stage.

It recounts a career full of accomplishment and rife with scandal, a marriage that would make history and create controversy and a presidency that would define the crucial and transformative period between the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11.

It follows Clinton across his two terms as he confronted some of the key forces that would shape the future, including partisan political warfare and domestic and international terrorism, and struggled, with uneven success, to define the role of American power in a post-Cold War world. Most memorably, it explores how Clinton’s conflicted character made history, even as it enraged his enemies and confounded his friends.

The program features unprecedented access to scores of Clinton insiders including White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum, White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes, as well as interviews with foreign leaders, members of the Republican opposition, childhood friends, staffers from Clinton’s years as governor of Arkansas, biographers and journalists.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is on Facebook, and you can follow @AmExperiencePBS on Twitter.

American Experience: Clinton, Chapter One

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Watch Clinton Chapter 1 on PBS. See more from American Experience.

The first chapter of "Clinton," a biography of a president who rose from a broken childhood in Arkansas to become one of the most successful politicians in modern American history, and one of the most complex and conflicted characters to ever stride across the public stage.

American Experience: Clinton: The Lewinsky Scandal

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Watch Clinton and Lying: the Lewinsky Scandal on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Clinton understood how the allegations of a sexual relationship with a White House intern could derail his presidency. He asked Dick Morris if he should lie to the American people. "They will forgive the adultery, but they won’t easily forgive that you lied." Morris concludes.

American Experience: Clinton: Hillary

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Watch Clinton's First Lady: Hillary on PBS. See more from American Experience.

First Lady Hillary Clinton was blamed for the poor showing during the 1994 midterm elections. "Voters thought that it was a zero sum game, that for Hillary to be strong Bill would have to be weak, and as a result the perception of Hillary’s strength became a perception of Bill’s weakness," says Political Consultant Dick Morris.

American Experience: Clinton: The Oklahoma City Bombing

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Watch Clinton and Crisis: The Oklahoma City Bombing on PBS. See more from American Experience.

After the Oklahoma City Bombing, Clinton's ability to reach Americans on a personal level did much to help the nation's grief. "It’s kind of a throwaway line now, I feel your pain, but he literally could," says Robert McNeely. "I mean he could take people and just hug them and connect to them in a way and really listen to them."

American Experience: Clinton: Bosnia

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Watch Clinton and Policing the World: Bosnia on PBS. See more from American Experience.

When Bosnian Serb soldiers murdered thousands in July 1995, Clinton initiated a massive NATO military response. "He didn't blink," National Security Coordinator Richard Clarke said. "We knew that day that we had a commander-in-chief who was rational and comfortable with the use of force."

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