The first part of the two-part PBS American Experience documentary on Bill Clinton appropriately premieres on Presidents Day, at 8 p.m. The second part premieres Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The Clinton biography is the most recent installment in the American Experience “Presidents” series.
Part 1 “The Comeback Kid” begins with an introduction of the 42nd president’s success, misjudgment, catastrophe and comeback. Subsequent chapters deal with his political ambition, early life, entering politics, serving as governor of Arkansas, successfully running for president while facing allegations of infidelity and draft-dodging, facing unexpected obstacles in the White House, a series of scandals, balancing the federal budget, Somalia and Rwanda, the Clintons refusal to cooperate with the press despite warnings that the Washington Post would go on the attack, healthcare, and the midterm elections.
Producers interviewed 61 people and 50 of those will appear in the documentary. Among those interviewed were Christiane Amanpour, Kofi Annan, Don Baer, Max Brantley, John Brummett, Sandy Berger, Sidney Blumenthal, James Carville, Wesley Clark, Ernie Dumas, Harold Ickes, Trent Lott, Mike McCurry, Dee Dee Myers, Bernard Nussbaum, Leon Panetta, John Podesta, Robert Reich, Kenneth Starr, Harry Thomason, Betsey Wright, and others.
The series continues and concludes Tuesday night with Part 2, called “The Survivor.”
Part 2 chapters include Clinton administration changes following the Republican-dominated midterm elections, the “Clinton Doctrine”, the biggest gamble of the presidency, strategy based on “values”, the Whitewater investigation, his second term, several chapters on the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the Ken Star investigation, Al Qaeda attacks, the impeachment, and his final years in the White House.