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Contemporary United States History, 1940-Present
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August 24:

-- The Great Depression-- began in 1929 and extended through nearly all of the 1930s-- after Hoover's unsuccessful attempts to deal with the economy, Roosevelt and the Democrats won a landslide victory in 1932-- FDR's New Deal helped to stabilize the situation and increased public confidence, but high unemployment persisted for years-- after his 1936 re-election, Roosevelt began to focus on foreign affairs
-- 1940 election-- World War II affected political developments-- Roosevelt ran for a third term, and advocated measures to help the British, such as Lend-Lease-- Republicans nominated Wendell Willkie, a supporter of aiding Britain, who argued he could run the New Deal more efficiently than FDR-- Roosevelt won a clear victory
-- America in 1940-41-- a brief period between the worst of the Depression and the beginning of WWII-- the economy improved because of defense spending but prosperity was not fully reached-- FDR passed Lend-Lease with Willkie's help, helped to convoy British shipping, and signed the Atlantic Charter with Churchill-- in dealing with Japan, the US supplied Japan's oil, but froze Japanese assets in mid-1941-- this prompted Japanese plans for a raid on Pearl Harbor-- the attack (December 7) destroyed much of the US Pacific fleet, and brought the US into war with Japan-- Germany then declared war on the US

August 31:

-- Fighting WWII-- in Europe, FDR wanted to maintain the "Big Three" alliance, confront Germany directly, and plan for the postwar-- Stalin and the Soviets wanted an immediate second front, but the British resisted-- the US and UK compromised by moving into French North Africa and Italy before invading France-- Big Three meetings finalized D-Day plans and called for German unconditional surrender-- on June 6, 1944, Eisenhower led the Overlord invasion of Normandy-- a steady advance led to V-E day in May 1945, but allowed the Soviets to occupy Berlin-- in the Pacific, MacArthur and the Army moved north from Australia, while the Navy concentrated on "island-hopping" closer to Japan-- in 1942, the battle of Midway stopped Japanese advances eastward-- by 1944, the Philippines had been retaken, and in early 1945 control of Okinawa and Iwo Jima set the stage for bombings of Tokyo and a possible invasion-- meanwhile, from 1940 to 1945 $2 billion had been spent on the "Manhattan Project" (led by Oppenheimer) to produce an atomic bomb-- by 1945 successful tests were made but the original target of Germany had surrendered-- this raised the question of possible use against Japan-- over the objections of some who argued that Japan was close to surrender, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed, leading to V-J Day
-- The Homefront-- defense spending and the GNP reached new heights-- industry converted from producing consumer goods to defense material (aircraft, tanks, Liberty Ships)-- defense needs created more work and shifted population to urban areas-- wages rose and employment shifted to war industries in urban areas-- workers saved more due to a scarcity of new consumer goods-- gas, food, and other items were put under a rationing and price control system directed by the government-- war bonds, "victory gardens", and scrap drives boosted morale-- the stateside image of the overseas soldiers became "Willie & Joe"

September 7:

-- Social Effects on the Homefront-- many Japanese-Americans were suspected of disloyalty and interned during the war-- women flooded into the workplace, some as "Rosie the Riveter" but others as clerks in the wartime bureaucracy-- the temporary nature of this was stressed by the government and business-- African-Americans found more defense work but also saw living conditions worsen with the move into crowded urban areas, and racial tensions often increased-- labor unions found new strength
-- Politics-- Republicans gained strength in 1942 elections, and some old New Deal agencies were cut-- FDR rallied support for 1944 with his "economic bill of rights"-- despite poor health, Roosevelt defeated Dewey and won a fourth term (with new Vice-President Truman)
--Truman and the Fair Deal-- Harry Truman became president after FDR's death-- his major problems were reconversion of the economy and dealing with labor problems after the war-- massive inflation and waves of strikes hurt his popularity-- his "Fair Deal" proposals did little to win over FDR's loyalists, and in 1946 Republicans took control of Congress-- Truman played off the new Congress, vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act (which put restrictions on labor activity and provided for government intervention in strikes), and gained support as an underdog
--1948 election-- Truman attempted to reassemble the Roosevelt coalition (the South, big cities, African-Americans, labor, and farmers)-- the Republican Thomas Dewey led in early polls, but Truman's aggressive campaign combined with Dewey's complacent campaign gained Truman a victory even with votes lost to Wallace (Progressive Party) and Thurmond (Dixiecrat)-- his 2nd term was marked with more difficulties (Korea, corruption) and he left office with 23% approval

September 14:

--The Cold War-- had its roots in pre-war distrust between the US and USSR, suspicions by each nation of the other's motives, and differences in postwar goals-- though the Soviets were portrayed as friendly allies during World War II, the alliance was an uneasy one-- after the war, disputes flared over Soviet control of Poland and Eastern Europe, the rebuilding of Germany, American control of the atomic bomb, and fears of Soviet expansion-- Truman appeared to take a more aggressive line than FDR-- by 1946, Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech appeared to declare a permanent split-- early theories (such as found in George Kennan's writings) grew into the policy of "containment" of Soviet ambitions-- the concept was seen in 1947 with the Truman Doctrine (military and economic aid to nations resisting communism) and the Marshall Plan (economic aid to Western Europe to help stabilize governments and societies)-- an early test of containment was in West Berlin, where an airlift helped supply the city after Soviets cut off access to West Germany-- in 1949, NATO was created to defend Western Europe against the Soviets, and in 1950, the secret NSC-68 report recommended permanent measures to contain the Soviets
--Foreign Policy: China and Korea-- China's Nationalist government was given US aid but fell to Mao's Communists in 1949-- America's "China Lobby" asked "Who lost China?", and concluded that Communist sympathizers in the US government were responsible-- the fall of China and the Soviet test of an atomic weapon led to NSC-68's recommendations-- in 1950, Communist North Korea invaded US-backed South Korea and threatened to overrun the peninsula-- following containment policy, Truman sent US troops into the fighting-- after the Inchon landing turned the battle tide, MacArthur argued for "liberating" North Korea from Communist rule-- approaching the northern border of N. Korea, Chinese troops invaded, causing a lengthy stalemate-- MacArthur protested Truman's "limited war", but was removed from command by Truman-- despite the unpopular stalemate, the situation in Korea enabled the adoption of many NSC-68 recommendations

September 21:

-- Anti-communism and McCarthyism-- evidence appeared to suggest that spies and traitors existed in the US-- the atomic spy ring, the Rosenbergs, the Alger Hiss case-- Congress voted to register known Communists, and the entertainment industry "blackisted" suspicious individuals-- this impulse was carried to its extreme by Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI), who claimed to know the names of communists in the government and expanded his range of charges-- McCarthy became the leading anti-communist in America, and the term "McCarthyism" came to represent reckless charges and methods
--The 1952 election-- Truman declined to run for re-election-- he left office regarded as a disappointment, but his repuation has steadily improved in retrospect-- Eisenhower ran as a Republican and internationalist, and defeated Democrat Adlai Stevenson in a landslide-- his "New Look" policies stressed atomic deterrence, "liberation", and "brinksmanship"-- Ike met with Soviet leaders, including with Khrushchev at Camp David in 1959-- Berlin was a constant source of conflict-- a possible Cold War thaw was stopped by the downing of a U-2 spy plane over the USSR in 1960 -- Ike produced a truce in Korea -- through it all, Eisenhower preferred cost-effective strategies such as nuclear deterrence and use of the CIA to more costly buildups in conventional forces
-- Eisenhower and Modern Republicanism-- wanted a middle ground between New Dealers and conservative Republicans-- maintained welfare state but with little new growth-- exceptions were programs linked to national defense and security-- interstate highways, aid to education (due to Sputnik)-- Ike preferred a "hidden-hand" style of governing, keeping his influence private-- he used this method to weaken McCarthy, but critics felt he should have been more confrontational-- McCarthy was eventually damaged by the Army-McCarthy hearings (1954) and lost popularity-- Eisenhower was slow to show support for desegregation after the Brown Supreme Court decision-- in 1957, the Little Rock crisis forced Eisenhower to send troops to enforce orders

September 28:

-- 1956 election-- Eisenhower won a landslide reelection over Stevenson, but Republicans lost Congress-- his 2nd term was marred by Sputnik, Little Rock, and the U-2 crisis-- his reputation has grown since leaving office, now often being seen as having presided over steady growth and not having provoked foreign policy crises
--Postwar "Booms"-- economic boom-- the economy grew steadily after WWII, creating a middle-class society for much of the country-- white-collar jobs outpaced blue-collar jobs in 50's-- baby boom-- population grew rapidly after WWII-- created larger families, the need for more family spending, and a further boost to the economy-- suburbanization boom-- the largest population growth occurred in suburbs, many of them "planned" developments-- in addition, population shifted to the south and west-- television boom-- TV became nearly universal, not only sparking a new industry but affecting old ones (movies, radio, spectator sports, newspapers and magazines)-- some spoke of an "organization society" where belonging to "the organization" was becoming more important than individualism-- common experiences no matter what the business or working environment-- "organization men" were often found in new suburbs, using "team" skills to conform-- community life had a great impact on group behavior, including what items to buy and when to buy them
-- Civil Rights Movement-- events of the mid-50s had a foundation in developments after WWII-- the wartime experience created rising expectations, Truman integrated the military, the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson (1947), and the Brown v. Board of Education case outlawed school segregation (1954)-- in 1955, after Rosa Parks' arrest in Montgomery (AL), a bus boycott was called-- Martin Luther King was named the group leader, and gained support-- the boycott lasted over a year and utilized community support to maintain effectiveness-- a court ruling brought a successful end to the boycott-- it brought King to prominence and established his philosophy of non-violence, and led to the creation of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Council)-- the strategy was taken up by students in sit-ins at restaurants and lunch counters (1960)-- this resulted in concessions from restaurant chains, and the formation of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee)

October 5:

-- The "Other" 1950's-- critics took aim at complacency and conformity, and emphasized the hollowness of society as reflected in the new suburbs-- the most extreme nonconformists were the "Beats", artists and intellectuals who valued experience over conformity-- Jack Kerouac's On The Road popularized freethinking behavior-- dissatisfaction also crept into movies with Brando and James Dean, who represented alienation and rebellion-- another group of "nonconformists" were teenagers, who had both increasing numbers and purchasing power-- the youth market embraced their own culture (including rock n' roll) as a method of group identity-- their embrace of Elvis and other artists represented a musical split with their elders
-- Popular Culture-- variety shows dominated early TV (Milton Berle), and later in the 50's was dominated by westerns (appealing to an audience looking for good guys vs. bad guys)-- I Love Lucy was the highest rated show, but "family" shows (Father Knows Best, Ozzie & Harriet) were considered "representative"-- movies often reflected larger issues-- High Noon had Cold War and McCarthy overtones, as did On The Waterfront-- The Apartment showed the drawbacks of "getting ahead" in business-- teenage alienation came out in A Rebel Without A Cause, while the issue of civil rights was indirectly addressed in Twelve Angry Men
--1960 Election-- John F. Kennedy emerged as the Democratic  nominee despite questions concerning his religion and experience-- he proclaimed his platform "The New Frontier" -- Vice-President Nixon ran for the Republicans-- the candidates appeared very similar, being of the same generation and sharing similar policy views, especially on the Cold War-- JFK stressed that the US was in danger of falling behind the Soviets in missiles and technology, and wanted to "get the country moving again"-- Nixon stressed his experience and the continuity with Eisenhower's administration-- JFK was hurt by questions over his Catholicism and his controversial father-- JFK won a narrow victory based on slim margins in Illinois and Texas
-- JFK Foreign Policy-- Kennedy emphasized foreign policy, and wanted flexible response capability to meet any challenge-- a series of crises began with the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, followed by conflict with the Soviets over West Berlin (leading to the construction of the Berlin Wall)-- the most serious crisis came after Soviet missile installations were discovered in Cuba (1962)-- JFK enforced a quarantine on Soviet shipments to Cuba, and Soviet missiles were removed-- the result of the missile crisis was a moderation in JFK's Cold War rhetoric, and a nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviets

October 19:

-- The Kennedy years-- JFK presented an image as an efficient problem-solver, but he initially saw no need for major reforms in domestic policy-- his term was marked by civil rights crises, which he thought hurt the American image overseas-- in the Freedom Rides and in enforcing school desegregation (Ole Miss and U. of Alabama), he gave limited support but did use federal power to enforce court orders-- in 1963 (after King's series of protests in Birmingham and the March on Washington) he shifted his position and prepared a civil rights bill-- little new legislation was passed under JFK, but the Apollo project functioned as an economic boost
-- Kennedy was killed in November 1963 in Dallas, and historians view Kennedy as a president whose term was cut short before more could be known-- on assuming the presidency,  Lyndon Johnson linked himself to JFK's legacy, and used his legislative knowledge to pass the Civil Rights Act (1964) -- LBJ won a landslide victory over Goldwater in 1964 by portraying him as an extremist and by stressing his continuity with Kennedy's legacy-- the 1964 election had long-term significance in remaking electoral allegiances in the South

October 29:    

-- The "Great Society"-- after 1964, Johnson's "Great Society" programs marked massive reform efforts in health insurance, poverty relief, housing, education, ect. -- Congress also passed the Voting Rights Act (1965)-- the Great Society marked the high-water mark of the "postwar consensus"
--Vietnam-- became an issue in mid-60's but had been developing since the end of WWII-- US aid was originally given to the French-- after the French defeat Vietnam was divided into North (Communist) and South-- US military advisors were sent to the South under Ike, and their numbers expanded under JFK-- Kennedy saw Vietnam as a place to make a stand against Communism-- JFK debated whether to escalate US involvement, but the decision was left to Johnson, who saw Vietnam as part of JFK's legacy and as a test of Cold War resolve-- the Tonkin Gulf Resolution (1964) authorized LBJ to take any steps necessary to aid South Vietnam-- it led to the bombing of North Vietnam and the gradual increase in numbers of US combat troops, from 150,000 troops (1965) to 535,000 (1967)-- by the end of 1967, public doubts were growing, but the public still largely supported the war
-- The Student Movement and other "revolutions"-- the student movement predated the Vietnam issue-- SDS was formed in 1960, and issued the Port Huron Statement in 1962-- it stressed the role of students as a distinct interest group and generational movement-- the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley (1964) spread activism-- as Vietnam became an issue, it dominated the movement's attention-- actions evolved from teach-ins to mass protests to (later) radicalism-- the larger student movement would not outlast the anti-war issue-- the "counterculture" also became more visible in the 60's-- "hippies" who dropped out of the mainstream and built alternative communities (Haight-Ashbury, ect.)-- many believed that society was changing drastically in their favor-- "Black Power" was another "revolution" of the late 60's-- frustration at lack of racial progress led to more radical stances by SNCC and other groups-- statements implied opposition to King's nonviolent approach, and stressed self-reliance, isolation-- this coincided with a wave of riots in urban America ("long hot summers")

November 2:

-- the "revolutions" of the 60s led to "counterrevolutions" from those feeling threatened by the counterculture and other movements, seeing them as a direct attack on their institutions-- differences over the war and a "backlash" against "Black Power" resulted, and the polarization of society deepened
-- 1968-- "the year everything went wrong"-- in late January, the Tet Offensive seemed to suggest that the US was not close to victory in Vietnam-- public doubts about the war grew-- Eugene McCarthy's success in New Hampshire symbolized lack of confidence in LBJ, and Robert Kennedy also challenged Johnson-- LBJ limited bombing of North Vietnam, and announced he would not seek reelection (late March)-- in early April, King was killed, sparking riots in many cities-- shortly afterward, demonstrations at Columbia were evidence of greater student activism-- in early June, Robert Kennedy was killed after winning the California primary-- Vice President Humphrey gained the Democratic nomination at the Chicago convention, where street violence and mass arrests hurt his popularity-- Humphrey fell far behind the Republican nominee Nixon, who campaigned as a "new Nixon"-- Republican ads emphasized the disarray (war, protests, riots) under Democrats, and Nixon offered a resolution to Vietnam-- Humphrey was hurt by identification with Johnson's policies, but gained support by proposing a bombing halt in Vietnam-- Nixon won narrowly, while George Wallace (former Alabama governor) took several southern states-- Johnson left office with a split legacy (Vietnam/Great Society)
-- Nixon and Vietnam -- Nixon and Henry Kissinger focused on foreign affairs-- in Vietnam, the plan was to rotate US troops out of combat, while bombing continued-- efforts to eliminate enemy supply routes and outposts in Cambodia (1970) sparked a new round of protests, heightened by the deaths of several protestors-- North Vietnamese attacks (1972) led to more bombings and mining of harbors in North Vietnam-- by 1973, secret diplomacy produced a ceasefire that pulled all US troops from Vietnam, but some criticized Nixon for delaying the war's end

November 9:

-- The Nixon years-- Nixon's trips to China and the Soviet Union (part of his detente policy) boosted his image, and resulted in arms control agreements and trade deals-- in domestic politics, Nixon appealed to the "silent majority" alienated by activism and protests-- radical groups such as the "Weathermen" brought about government surveillance of radical and activist groups-- Nixon was skeptical of court-mandated civil rights solutions ("busing"), but authorized government "affirmative action" programs-- other parts of Nixon's domestic policy produced moderate expansion of government regulation and oversight (environmental and consumer protection agencies, worker safety)-- Nixon ran in 1972 against antiwar Democrat George McGovern, whose campaign was marked by disarray and who was labeled an extreme liberal-- Nixon won a landslide victory, losing only one state
--"Watergate"-- referes to both the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up, and more generally to abuses of power under Nixon-- Nixon's administration concentrated on stopping government leaks, and these activities eventually extended into campaign "dirty tricks", such as the 1972 break-in at Democratic Headquarters (in the Watergate Office Building)-- the burglars were working for the Nixon reelection campaign, but their connections were covered up until early 1973, when one burglar admitted he had been paid hush money-- Senate Watergate hearings produced testimony of Nixon's involvement in the cover-up, and revealed that Watergate conversations had been recorded-- the Senate and a special prosecutor subpoenaed the tapes, but Nixon fired the special prosecutor and attorney general in the "Saturday Night Massacre"-- tapes and transcripts were eventually turned over, but House impeachment hearings began-- committee hearings produced articles of impeachment supported by many Republicans, and the Supreme Court ordered that Nixon turn over all subpoenaed tapes-- in August 1974 a "smoking gun" transcript showing that Nixon had ordered a cover-up was released, and within the week he resigned-- historical judgment on Nixon struggles to balance the impact of Watergate with the rest of his record
-- Post-Watergate politics-- Gerald Ford (Vice President and former Michigan congressman) became president after Nixon's resignation-- he promised a fresh start, but lost support after pardoning Nixon

November 16:
-- "breathing spell" politics in the 70s-- to fight inflation, Ford promoted a "Whip Inflation Now" voluntary program, which seemed ineffective-- Democrats gained in the 1974 elections, and Ford "governed by veto"-- in 1976, Ford narrowly won the Republican nomination over Ronald Reagan-- Democrats nominated Jimmy Carter, a little-known former Georgia governor-- Carter held a huge lead over Ford, but doubts about him, and his inexperience in national politics, made the race closer-- Carter won by a small margin, and promised an open administration-- early gestures of openness were forgotten as he alienated the Democratic Congressional leadership-- in 1979, Carter's "malaise" speech highlighted a crisis of confidence-- inflation, unemployment, and interest rates were high as the 1980 election approached, and a recession was in progress
-- Post-Vietnam Foreign Policy-- the perception was that the U.S. lost its grip on international affairs after the fall of Vietnam in 1975-- detente with the Soviets and Chinese continued, but the policy (and Kissinger's involvement) became more controversial-- Carter criticized detente but also said there was no need for an "inordinate" fear of the USSR, and signed a SALT II agreement-- relations with the Soviets were damaged by their invasion of Afghanistan (1979), and Carter responded with more defense spending-- the Camp David talks and Carter's shuttle diplomacy resulted in a treaty between Israel and Egypt, and Carter emphasized human rights in his foreign policy-- but the most indelible event of the Carter administration was the Iranian hostage crisis, which projected an image of ineffectiveness
-- Social momements and the "me decade"-- several groups gained greater recognition and made greater demands in the 1970's-- the "women's movement" got its start in the 60's, but would progress more in the 70's-- women's groups made gains in breaking down barriers into "male" occupations and pressed for equal pay, and the King-Riggs tennis match symbolized the greater visibility of the issue-- the Equal Rights Amendment was debated, but women remained behind in pay equity with men-- other groups who sought greater recognition were Chicanos and Hispanics, Native Americans, and gays and lesbians-- events such as the Wounded Knee standoff and the Stonewall riots created greater public awareness-- some thought that these movements represented a fragmentation of collective society-- others saw the demand for individual goals as a society-wide phenomenon, calling the 70's "the Me Decade", in contrast with the 1950's

November 30:
--1980 Election-- Carter defeated Ted Kennedy for his party's nomination, but divisions among Democrats persisted-- Republicans were united under Ronald Reagan, the conservative former California governor-- independent candidate John Anderson took support from dissatisfied members of both parties-- uncertainty over Reagan's experience was relieved by his debate performance, and he won a clear victory, helped by "Reagan Democrat" crossovers-- Republicans also captured the Senate-- in his first term, Reagan concentrated on economics-- "Reaganomics" promised that budget cuts combined with tax cuts would balance the budget, but instead resulted in larger defecits-- an early 80's recession threatened Reagan's reelection, but conditions improved and Reagan won a landslide victory over Walter Mondale on a "It's Morning in America" campaign-- Reagan's second term brought fewer domestic policy successes and was hurt by the Iran-Contra scandal
--Reagan's Foreign Policy-- Reagan promised to stand up to the "evil empire" of the Soviets, and increased defense spending-- Gorbachev's rise to power in the USSR prompted negotiations, which resulted in arms control agreements and the sense that the Cold War was ending-- Reagan has been rated highly for his role in reducing Cold War tensions-- in the Middle East, Reagan sent peacekeeping troops to Lebanon and faced a new hostage situation-- Reagan concentrated on Soviet influence in Central America, and this eventually led to the Iran-Contra scandal-- arms sales to Iran (attempting to release hostages in Lebanon) financed illegal support to Nicaraguan rebels, resulting in the Iran-Contra scandal-- the revelation damaged Reagan, and produced charges of an administration lacking control
-- The (First) Bush Years-- George Bush overcame the suspicions of Reagan loyalists to win the Republican nomination in 1988-- Democrats nominated Massachusetts governor Dukakis, who said the election was "not about ideology, it's about competence"-- his early lead vanished with Bush's "no new taxes" pledge, and Bush ads (including the "tank ride" and "Boston Harbor") accused Dukakis of being out-of-touch with the mainstream-- Bush won a decisive victory promising to continue a "kinder, gentler" Reaganism

December 7:
--Popular culture-- in television, trends included the rise of issue-oriented shows such as All In The Family and M*A*S*H -- in movies, revolutions in taste brought new language and subject matter to screen-- movies such as Fail-Safe and Dr. Strangelove expressed skepticism of the Cold War and nuclear deterrrence, The Graduate dealt with concerns of the baby boom generation, and films (An Unmarried Woman) explored the effects of the women's movement
--The (First) Bush years-- Bush emphasized foreign policy and "prudence", but critics argued that he was too passive in reacting to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union-- in the Gulf War (1991), Bush forced Iraq from Kuwait quickly and with few casualties, but not without some criticisms of his personalization of the conflict-- Bush's approval ratings of 90% eroded as the economy worsened, with the perception that Bush could not relate to average Americans
--From Bush To Clinton-- in 1992, the Democrats nominated Arkansas governor Clinton, who was hampered by personal issues-- early attention went to independent candidate Ross Perot, who led some polls before dropping out in July-- Clinton capitalized on his withdrawal and emphasized the economy, gaining the lead despite Bush's focus on his character-- Perot's re-entry into the campaign cost Clinton a majority but he won a clear victory-- Clinton's early term was marked by disorganization and controversies, but he gained narrow Congressional wins on the budget and NAFTA-- the economy improved and was healthy throughout Clinton's presidency-- his health-care proposal, criticized for its complexity and for being drawn up in secrecy, failed to draw consensus support, and reinforced the perception of an ineffective administration-- in 1994, Republicans took control of Congress on the "Contract With America" platform-- however, Clinton positioned himself in opposition to Speaker of the House Gingrich, and won re-election against Bob Dole in 1996
--Impeachment-- In early 1998 word of Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky surfaced, along with charges he had lied about it in a lawsuit deposition-- Independent Counsel Ken Starr investigated, and Clinton eventually admitted the affair but said he had not specifically lied in his deposition-- the public doubted his story but gave him high job approval numbers-- the Starr Report concluded Clinton had perjured himself, and articles of impeachment were approved by the House, but Clinton was acquitted in the Senate-- the remainder of his term was marked by high approval ratings, low personal ratings
--2000 election-- the race between Vice-President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush was close throughout-- on election night, Florida was the decisive state, and was eventually declared too close to call-- Gore asked for additional recounts in some Democratic counties-- after several weeks the matter went to the state supreme court (which ordered a full statewide recount) and then to the U.S. Supreme Court (ruling 5-4 that the recount raised too many legal questions)-- Gore won the national popular vote, but Bush won Florida and the White House by 537 votes
--9/11 to the present-- terrorist attacks in 2001 destroyed the World Trade Center and made Americans anxious for their safety-- Bush declared a "war on terror", striking first at terrorist bases in Afghanistan, then shifting focus to war with Iraq-- Iraq's military was defeated swiftly but uprisings grew, eventually costing over 4000 casualties-- in the 2004 election, Bush defeated John Kerry by focusing on the terror issue and Kerry's inconsistencies-- issues such as the future of the US in Iraq, the growing budget deficit, and the government's response to Hurricane Katrina contributed to a decline in Bush's approval ratings-- in the 2008 election, Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain-- Obama's first years have been dominated by the issue of a weakened economy, along with a withdrawal from Iraq, greater emphasis in Afghanistan, and the killing of Osama Bin Laden-- currently, the 2012 presidential campaign is dominating headlines