BACKGROUND: If you came of age during the 1990s, then you know how memorable Bill Clinton was when he was President of the United States.
After vanquishing the seemingly invincible George Bush in 1992, Clinton presided over a fascinating time in American history. As the Internet grew in popularity and the economy boomed, Clinton shifted to the right in both his approach to foreign affairs and domestic issues. It's hard to believe that a Democratic chief executive launched military excursions in Iraq and the Balkans, significantly curtailed welfare and actually reduced the federal deficit. If a Democrat did that today, Republicans would likely praise that person as the second coming of William McKinley (or, more likely, Ronald Reagan).
But Clinton did not endear himself to the right when he was in office. Part of this disgust may have stemmed from jealousy over Clinton's political maneuvering, which included "triangulating" a lot of Republican ideas. Yet Clinton's sometimes abrasive personality and dangerous liaisons probably didn't help either.
Bill Clinton received a lot of criticism during the 2008 election cycle for various reasons, as it became big news when the former president would say something controversial while Hillary Clinton was campaigning. But when he came to Columbia in the midst of a testy primary battle with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton showcased for Columbia why he was likely elected in the first place.
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: As you can see, many presidential contenders made this list. But I found Clinton's speech to be one of the best. Not only was the address substantive - Clinton managed to back up every argument to vote for his wife with some notable reasoning - but I think he managed to keep the audience interested even though it was a lengthy speech.
Clinton is one of the most paradoxical presidents, mainly because his successes are sometimes overshadowed by his high-profile failures. His foreign policy initiatives in Ireland and the Balkans probably did a lot of long term good. But he's been criticized for his response to terrorism and for his lack of action in Rwanda. On the domestic front, he seemed to stay out of the way of the booming economy. But he also took stances on abortion, gun control and taxation that provided openings for the Republicans further down the road. And even though managed to easily escape being removed from office, the fact that it was considered in the first place probably isn't good for his legacy.
Even though this aforementioned legacy will take some time to formulate, Clinton's abilities as a speaker probably aren't in question. He seemed to be adept at persuading people that he could productively solve problems. That's what he showed on his visit to Columbia.
FUN FACT: The Missouri Student Recreation Center has a Lazy River.