Arts + Culture

The Presidents as Travelers

by Ted Widmer

Bill Clinton

Where The Eagle Landed: Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Nigeria, Russia, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, the West Bank

Home and abroad: At a 1992 debate, then-President George H.W. Bush joked that Bill Clinton's idea of foreign policy was a long meal at the International House of Pancakes. Clinton had the last laugh when he won the White House that year, and turned out to be the best traveled president to date. President Clinton wins the jackpot with 133 trips—including the one pictured to Chobe National Park, Botswana, in 1998—that's a little more than 16 per year. These trips did not always please the critics, angry at the journeys' expense and distance from the United States. But Clinton's travels were successful outreach efforts that became easier to believe in as the 42nd president tried to solve global problems through shuttle diplomacy—succeeding in some places (Northern Ireland) and failing in others (the Middle East). With his limitless enthusiasm for long discussions with world leaders, policy roundtables, state dinners, and huge crowd events, Clinton simply wore out most of the cynics, building better relations in the long list of countries he visited, especially in Africa, Latin America, and China. Post-term, Clinton's travels have continued, as Condé Nast Traveler has reported, with the aim of highlighting causes such as AIDS, the eradication of poverty, and tsunami relief.

NEXT: Man with a plan

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