(WASHINGTON) — American University named former President Bill Clinton as its first annual “Wonk of the Year.”
Located in Washington D.C., the event is part of a marketing campaign the college coined to draw in students interested in the more niche fields of public policy.
The term “wonk” is a colloquialism used to describe a person who studies a subject in an excessively thorough manner, such as an academic. During the 1992 presidential election, the Baltimore Sun described Clinton and running mate Al Gore as a “double-wonk ticket.” The term stuck throughout his administration.
The university honored Clinton for his focus on scholarship during his administration and his work since leaving office leading the non-profit William J. Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative.
Before a crowd of roughly 3,500 students on Friday, the 42nd president of the United States spoke on subjects ranging from physics’ string theory to the human genome, which was first sequenced during his administration. He also touched on more recent policy developments such as the Mexican drug war and the fight over health care in Congress.
President Clinton did not delve deeply into election politics, but he did take a moment to comment on the ongoing Republican nomination process. Clinton said tracking the GOP campaign’s ups and downs, “as a Democrat, is a beautiful thing.”
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