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Clintonian is an ambiguous term that either refers to the political behavior of United States President Bill Clinton or his administrative style and personal group of political allies. Also it represents reform of centrist political position of Democratic Party.

Ideological sense[edit]

Ideally, Clintonian would mean a member of the political faction of the United States Democratic Party centered on then President Bill Clinton and his wife, former First Lady of the United States, former U.S. Senator of New York, and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, both in their times in office and subsequently. This faction is also thought to include journalist Sidney Blumenthal, Democratic National Committee Chairman Steven Grossman, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, Treasury Department Secretary Robert Rubin, and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

While the primary qualification is being aligned with or part of the web of political and donor connections associated with the Clintons, the ideology of the faction can be said in broad outline to favor certain policies:

The ideology is sometimes thought of as part of the Third Way, a brand of politics that is said to include (at the time or since) Prime Minister Tony Blair's New Labour in the United Kingdom, the Liberal Party in Canada, and the Social Democratic Party in Germany under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Political sense[edit]

President Clinton spoke after the Lewinsky scandal broke: "There's nothing going on between us." In fact there had been a sexual relationship, which was later proven. Clinton later excused his deceptive statement as 'not false' on the meaning of the word 'is' in the immediate sense of the present tense, confessing to a crafty evasion rather than to a lie. This after-the-fact and lawyerly nit-picking is commonly referred to as a Clintonian defense. The term has entered the lexicon to mean a defensive or revisionary argument which may be legally or logically correct, while the defense remains obscure and foolish to a reasonable person's assessment of content and ordinary meaning.

It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the—if he—if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement...

— Bill Clinton during the independent counsel testimony.[1]

Following the Lewinsky scandal and the Impeachment of Bill Clinton, the term "Clintonian" has also carried the connotation of verbal craftiness, usually in a political or legal context, intended to deceive or obscure the truth.

"The word Clintonian is in our lexicon and means being sneaky, and tough." -Tony Blankley[2]


  1. ^ "Slate dot com, Sept. 13, 1998", lewinsky testimony search engine, Slate (magazine), retrieved 3/4/08  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ MSNBC - Hardball with Chris Matthews, originally aired February 8, 2008

See also[edit]