campbell scott

campbell scott

BILL CLINTON: EPISODE 3 (AMERICAN HISTORY DOCUMENTARY)

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BILL CLINTON: EPISODE 3 (AMERICAN HISTORY DOCUMENTARY) The career of one of America's most confounding leaders--a brilliant mind and naturally gifted politician who seemed bent on self-destruction--is chronicled in Clinton, an even-handed portrait of the 42nd US president originally broadcast by PBS. Narrated by actor Campbell Scott, the two-part, four-hour documentary traces Bill Clinton's political ambitions back to Arkansas, where he managed to block out a turbulent adolescence (replete with a drunk, violent stepfather) and establish himself as a rising star who was not merely slick and charismatic but knowledgeable and determined. And Clinton's "Comeback Kid" moniker was no lie. After losing his first political campaign at age 28, he became Arkansas's attorney general, then its governor--twice--followed by a tentative run for president in 1988 that was aborted by revelations of his womanizing, his notoriously long speech at that year's Democratic Convention, and, of course, the successful campaign in 1992 against incumbent George H.W. Bush that carried Clinton and wife Hillary, his de facto "co-president," to the White House. His first term was marked by grand successes (a federal surplus and economic boom) and epic failures (the Hillary-led attempt to reform healthcare was, if anything, even less popular than Barack Obama's, while misadventures in Somalia and Rwanda revealed his foreign policy weaknesses). And yet, despite the disastrous '94 midterm elections that gave control of Congress to Newt Gingrich and the Republicans, Clinton rather easily won a second term in '96. But this was a guy who couldn't stand prosperity; he was continually dogged by the Whitewater real estate controversy (and the "relentless, implacable" special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr), and his final years were marked by the tawdry Monica Lewinsky scandal and his impeachment, both of which he somehow managed to survive. This remarkable tale is brought to life via numerous film clips and interviews with those who worked for and with the Clintons, various writers and reporters, and other talking heads. We do not hear directly from Bill or Hillary; and although we don't hear much from their many critics on the right (other than former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and a couple of others), either, even the Clintons' fiercest enemies would have to concede that Clinton is a fair and balanced look at a man who clearly left office with his country in better shape than it had been in when he got there.