Like a recurring toenail infection, here she is again. Monica Lewinsky, in the pages of Vanity Fair, now claims sisterhood with the #MeToo movement.
For the young unfamiliar with the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal or for older folks who, through intensive therapy, have purged those memories from their brains, let’s return to those days gone by when feminists thought powerful men cavorting with their female subordinates was perfectly acceptable as long as he had the right politics.
It began when then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton’s roving sex drive was drawn to Paula Jones, a state employee. Like a potentate from ancient times, Clinton dispatched an underling—a uniformed state trooper—to summon her to his presence. Expecting some task associated with her state job, she was surprised when, after entering his hotel room, Clinton dropped his pants. She feared she’d be fired but summoned the fortitude to refuse the crude demand he then made. Later, she filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment.
Clinton’s defenders attacked Jones, calling her a trashy nobody with big hair, chasing a $100 bill that Clinton haters had dragged through a trailer park. But there was a new sex harassment law, ironically signed by Clinton, which made past sexual interaction with subordinates evidentiary in such cases. The world soon learned of White House intern Monica Lewinsky’s affair with President Clinton.
The original Clintonian version of the affair was that Lewinsky was a deluded stalker, pursuing the sexually irresistible B. J. Clinton. Hillary said her husband had been alone with Lewinsky only because he was kindly and counseling her in private all while remaining innocently unaware that Lewinsky was fantasizing about an Oval Office romance. Counseling the troubled was part of his strong Christian faith, Hillary insisted. He might even have popped open a Bible and read Scripture to Lewinsky but a soiled blue dress spoiled that narrative. Had the dress had gone to the drycleaners, the White House, aided by a poodle press, would have called Lewinsky a trashy, nutty nobody, chasing a lot of $100 bills being dragged through Washington. And, indeed, in spite of that dress, many tried.
But the White House knew it had to turn to a new strategy. It was “just sex” and “everyone lies about sex” and Ken Starr, the fellow given the sordid task of sorting out Clinton’s perjury, was the real pervert for voyeuristically intruding. Lewinsky went along with the Clinton line. Perhaps she thought she could wrap herself in the romantic role of a woman true to Love even when it led her astray. Consider, however, how it started.
In a Time magazine interview, Lewinsky said that one day in the Oval Office, when Clinton admired her outfit and suavely said he’d like to see what was under it, she responded by turning and lifting her skirt to display her thong. “It was very subtle,” she said, “If you put your hands on your waist and you locked your thumbs under your short jacket and just sort of lifted it, about two inches, it was a tease. And it was part of the flirtation.” Lewinsky’s “subtle” flirtation was more than enough to rev up Clinton and the White House became their garden of love. Then the Jones lawyers showed up.
As he was deposed, Clinton fell back on lawyerly word play such as what the meaning of “is” is. When asked if he had sexual relations with Lewinsky with the definition of relations being: “the person knowingly engages in or causes contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person,” Clinton, under oath, said “No.” In front of TV cameras, while waving a finger to show his outrage, he repeated his insistence that he did not have sexual relations with “that woman.”
Later, he had to admit that while “legally correct,” this was not true. To a federal grand jury he explained, “If the deponent is the person who has oral sex performed on him, then the contact is with—not with anything on that list—but with the lips of another person.” It was Slick Willie at his slickest. His perjury got him impeached but not cast out of office. In the end, he left the White House as a star in the Democrat firmament, not because he was innocent but because he had shown himself powerful enough to get away with his transgressions.
Lewinsky didn’t fare as well. Andrew Morton published a book about her life. But while it made a few bucks, she didn’t become the admired heroine of in a tragic storybook romance. She couldn’t even get a date as men were embarrassed to be seen with her. She faded into 1990s iconography like pogs and Beanie Babies, and then she popped again up when anti-bullying became the cause du jour.
By claiming to have been a victim of bullying, exactly like the tragic kids who have been taunted by bullies into committing suicide, she was finally a celebrated victim instead of the butt of jokes. When late night talk show hosts had joked about her, they were being bullies, though no price was to be paid by them for their tastelessness. When Internet posters mocked her, they were bullies. Ken Starr, for trying to uncover the truth, was a bully. Indeed, everyone who didn’t celebrate her was a bully. It played well with some, but most saw her “bullying” as the inevitable consequence of bad decisions. Instead of becoming the spokeswoman of the anti-bullying movement, she was seen as an exploiter of it.
Now, Lewinsky is chasing a new bandwagon. She insists she was a victim of an abuse of power. She was just a lowly intern, employed in the first job she’d had after college. He was nearly three decades older and the president. Presumably, when she lifted her skirt, she now thinks he should have said, “No, thank you, my dear. Put it away, please. I am too pure of heart to give in to my fleshy fancies.” Indeed, he should have done that but she had to know that this was unlikely. Her self-portrayal as victim doesn’t hold up. She sought out his advances by making her own, however much she now regrets it. Clinton apparently taught her the foundation of Clintonism: the gall to claim virtue when unvirtuous. She should be reminded that Paula Jones was a #MeToo victim, not her.
Anti-Trumpers sometimes wonder why America elected Trump. He toots his own horn louder than those 76 trombones in The Music Man. On Twitter, he snaps back quicker than a poked snapping turtle and like that turtle, doesn’t let go. He has funny hair and a New York accent that renders “huge” as “yuge.” But despite his faults, he has become the champion of those who despise what the ruling class has done to America. That hatred was founded for many in the Clinton years, when a man who twisted truth like a Boy Scout tying all the knots in the manual in a single shoestring, won the day.
Over and over, in the years since, Americans have seen rule breakers getting a pass while those who keep their noses clean get pushed around. Whether it’s millions of illegal immigrants demanding amnesty, IRS bureaucrats abusing their power, or lies about police shootings being treated as unassailable truth, the abuses go on and on. Then the poster girl of ruling class license ran for president.
Hillary has wallowed in scandal after scandal: cattle future cheating, Whitewater, Travelgate, misused FBI files, etc., etc., up to and including her evading a subpoena by purging her illegal email server. But when she claimed to be the defender of womanhood from the sexual depredations of men it struck a sour note that only her most devoted disciples didn’t hear. The rest of us remembered how she had played Whack-a-Mole with her husband’s accusers.
It wasn’t the only reason she lost but her expectation that her hypocrisy would be accepted yet again vividly illustrated her contempt for the electorate. That blue dress helped save America from Hillary.