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    Monica, Bill and the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy


    Monica Lewinsky is now 40 years old.  In the late 1990s, when she was barely into her twenties, she met Bill Clinton, flirted a bit and caught his attention.  Before long she was having an affair with the President of the United States.  Heady stuff for a bedazzled young girl and of course she had to tell somebody.

    As we all now know, she confided in her friend Linda Tripp.  Tripp, a Republican who hated Bill Clinton even before she knew about the affair, took Monica's story to Lucianne Goldberg, a literary agent specializing in conservative authors.  Goldberg had once tried to sell Tripp's book proposal on the differences between Bush 41's keeping dignity in the White House compared to Clinton's appalling misuse. It never went anywhere, but this time would be different.  This was big.

    Goldberg encouraged Tripp to tape-record her phone conversations with Monica, and Linda apparently seeing nothing wrong with betraying a friend, went along willingly.  The man, after all, was an animal.

    In a 2012 interview for the PBS American Experience production, "Clinton", Lucianne Goldberg recounted their roles in what was to become the most bizarre impeachment proceeding in the history of not just this, but possibly any country:

    Producer: Did you have a sense. . .that this could be ruinous to his presidency?

    Goldberg: Oh sure -- I knew it very likely would impeach him, and I was glad about that. That didn't bother me at all.
    Producer: Why were you interested in either [Michael] Isikoff or [Matt] Drudge having the story?

    Goldberg: Well, in the first place I wanted Newsweek to have it. Because it was mainstream media and I wanted it. You know, I wanted the story to get out because I'm selling a book. You have to understand that. It was that as much as it was a political thing. It was nice that it was a political thing, because I didn't happen to agree with the Clinton administration. But I wasn't doing it for that reason. I was doing it because I was selling a book. I was representing a client.

    Producer: But the hope was that by leaking a little of it or some of it to an Isikoff or a Drudge, it would generate interest for the buyer.

    Goldberg: That was the whole idea. To get the story out, use that as a hook to get publishers interested, and sell a book. It was that simple.

    Producer: But before this breaks, let's say, does Linda become preoccupied with the Monica relationship and what she's hearing? I can't imagine she wouldn't be. But, I mean, characterize how big a part of her life this became.

    Goldberg: An enormous part of her life. But by the time Drudge broke the story, that was it. The taping stopped. I mean, the cat was out of the bag, Monica knew what Linda had been up to.

    Producer: That part stops a lot of people cold. They're willing to understand why Linda might want to publicize this out of outrage, out of political motivation, whatever it is, but what it was going to do to Monica is where people begin to wonder. Did you think about that, did you talk about that with her?

    Goldberg: Yeah, I don't think we thought it was going to be harmful, that harmful to Monica, really didn't. It made Monica a star, and if she had wanted to handle it differently if she had -- had she been a different kind of person -- I mean look at the girls that were being paid to sleep with Tiger Woods, they're going to have their own TV shows, and Monica could have been, you know, could have been just about anything she chose to be.

    Producer: But it was at a minimum a betrayal of her confidence.

    Goldberg: Yeah, sure.   

    Linda Tripp then turned the tapes over to Ken Starr, the star prosecutor in the subsequent impeachment trial.  Feeling that the tapes were not enough, that they needed more evidence of lying and cover-ups, his bunch wired Tripp and had her meet several more times with Monica, feeding her leading questions in order to get her to put the last nails in Bill Clinton's coffin.

    The intern had an affair and she told about it.  The president had an affair and he lied about it.  So far, nothing unusual in either of those responses.  Happens all the time with affairs.  They're never tidy.  But when you're the president and you have a vast Right Wing conspiracy already conspiring to take you down, the last thing you want to do is to provide them the ammunition.  Clinton the Unfathomable practically hand-delivered it.

    So the president was impeached because he lied under oath about his affair.  He went on to serve out his term and would later become a revered senior statesman, building a new reputation as a person to go to for wise counsel and decisive action.

    His wife, Hillary, humiliated beyond anything she deserved, went on to become a U.S. Senator and later, a formidable presidential candidate.  She may well be our next president.

    Their daughter Chelsea, her own innocence shattered at such a young age, went on to college, built a satisfying career, married, and is about to become a mother.

    No such good fortune for Monica.  She says in a blockbuster article in the latest Vanity Fair that, while she has had offers, they've all been based on her past notoriety.  Her goal was to work in the non-profit world but every interview told her they would be hiring her for her name and not her abilities.  Whether or not that was true, that was how she perceived it.

    She says she wants a private life.  She wants to work with groups helping people struggling with the effects of shame.  She is an expert on the subject and would be an asset to any like-minded group. I hope she can find her place there.

    I have nothing but sympathy for Monica Lewinsky.  She was vulnerable and victimized by so many people, used and betrayed in ways so vicious it's a miracle she can still look back on it with anything resembling clarity.  She made bad mistakes but did nothing beyond being young and naively romantic to deserve what happened to her.

    But why use a magazine like Vanity Fair to press her case?   Why do it this way?  Why now?

    She has once again exposed herself to endless, ruthless analysis and cruel ridicule and everyone has to wonder why?  Who convinced her to open up Monicagate again?  The rumors are already flying; the pundits are already salivating, the haters are sharpening their talons.

    She says in the article, "I am determined to have a different ending to my story. I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past. (What this will cost me, I will soon find out.)”

    The ending of her story is whatever she makes it.  I only hope for her sake she gets it right this time.



    Imho, Lewinsky's greatest character flaw is poor judgment. I fear that this article is no exception.

    PS At least they didn't make her wear a blue dress

    I agree.  She has been known to be her own worst enemy, and this will do her no good.  But my sympathies are still with her.   She had no experience in the public eye when she was suddenly thrust into it.  The sort of humiliating scrutiny that was hurled at her for years on end would be enough to unhinge anybody. 

    I have no idea what her motives are now, but she is a sad soul and all we can do is try and understand.

    Agreed. The solution to the problem of too much publicity is never more publicity.

    That's what's most puzzling.  Her goal to be a spokesperson for groups dealing with shame is admirable, but could have been done at any time, anywhere, and she would have been among people who could appreciate what she has been through. 

    She has a lot to share, but this kind of thing smacks too much of capitalizing on her own notoriety.  How much better it would have been for her to quietly build a following among those she's advocating for and then let THEM tell the world that she has, in fact, grown up.

    All of the baggage--the insults, the ridicule, the reminders--might have been behind her then.  It could be that she doesn't know any other way to live besides living in her own past.  If that's the case, she'd be better off joining those groups instead of trying to lead them.

    I'm presuming that she doesn't have many options left.

    Agreed, partially. The first time round, she didn't choose the notoriety, and she lacked the experience and maturity to handle it. This time, the older, presumably wiser Lewinsky has courted the publicity herself. I have sympathy for the 22-year-old, not so much for the 40-year-old.

    Perhaps she wants do-over, thinking that she can manage her image better this time, but it's ludicrous idea. No one came out pretty at the end of that circus, not even Bill Clinton, who may be the shrewdest image-maker of our time. He has managed to claw back his reputation, mostly, but it took him twenty years, and he only succeeded by putting the affair behind him.

    Does Lewinsky think she can redeem herself by plunging back into it? How? What's her best case scenario here? And redemption is the most charitable motive I can come up with. The others--greed, fame, revenge--are worse.

    I think the 40 year old is still trying to redeem the 22 year old and once again mucking it up.  I think that's why when I think about her all I can feel is sad.

    I'm with you. This is very sad.

    I find myself thinking about Lewinsky in exactly the same terms that I thought about her in 1998: "that poor, dumb kid." It's not respectful to think of a 40-year-old in those terms; she's not who she was when she was 24.

    But this article sets out to prove that she is exactly who she was 16 years ago: just as hapless and out of her depth. That poor, dumb kid.


    I think you've just explained to me the thing that has been puzzling me.  She has not grown at all.   I'm even sadder now.

    Redeem herself for what? Poor judgment? Like say letting Vanity Fair pose her lying on a red couch in a white dress? They knew what they were doing but did Lewinsky? I have doubts that she did.


    I really think that her "why?" is that she is 40, can write reasonably well and has a venue.  She's looking back on two lost decades.  I wouldn't call them wasted.  She's worked.  She tried fashion.  She went to grad school. They weren't exactly stolen.  As Michael W. says, there's been bad judgment.  But... I get why she has to tell her story right now.

    She says in the story why she is doing it:

    When Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers freshman who was secretly streamed via Webcam kissing another man, committed suicide in September 2010, Lewinsky writes, she was brought to tears, but her mother was especially distraught: “She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal. The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life—a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death.” Lewinsky clarifies that she has never actually attempted suicide, but had strong suicidal temptations several times during the investigations and during one or two periods after.
    Lewinsky writes that following Clementi’s tragedy “my own suffering took on a different meaning. Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation. The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?” She also says that, when news of her affair with Clinton broke in 1998, not only was she arguably the most humiliated person in the world, but, “thanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet.” Her current goal, she says, “is to get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums.”
    She is the only person I can think of that experienced that magnitude of public shaming prior to the rise of social media. Maybe her story of surviving it will give others like the girl from Stubenville hope that they can as well. 

    Drudge kind of was social media back then...

    Drudge was the first to publish her name.  Others, like Isikoff, knew it but kept it quiet.

    Not really. Sure he was inflaming political partisans online but not all that many people were actually online in the 90s -- including partisans. Talk radio and late night hosts were much more influential in popular culture. In today's language, the number of retweets by their followers then would easily beat both Ellen's and Obama's selfies combined. Imo, how they drove the story and kept it alive way past its newsworthyness was the national embarrassment.


    Yes, she said that, but Tyler Clementi's suicide took place in 2010.  She says it brought her to the realization that she could help others who had been shamed.  She could have done that, but so far she hasn't.

    Maybe she still will, but I don't see how it helps her cause to rehash that painful old story in Vanity Fair.

    What? Becoming spokesmodel for a cause is not doing something? That will really surprise a lot of celebrities.

    Which painful story? Hers or Clementi's?


    There are many ways to become the spokesmodel, as you say, for groups working with victims of shaming.  Writing and posing for Vanity Fair seems an odd choice if that's what she's going for.  It may lead to something, but in the meantime she's opening herself up to more ridicule, more shame, more hate.  Nobody I know wants that to happen to her again. 

    I think if she had gone to those groups quietly and shared her story, talking about how she dealt with it, she would have been doing a great service to victims of shame.  Few people have ever gone through what she went through and come out the other side whole.  I'm not sure she has, either, which is why I question her reasons for opening this can of worms again in such a public venue. 

    I read this morning that in February Paul Ryan brought up the affair at at least three appearances, so it could be that she knew it was only a matter of time before it was out there again.  I don't know what the truth is.


    Painful stories are everywhere, but in this case I meant Monica's.

    If I have to say it a hundred different times:


    That woman or those women or....

    I always wanted to ask Mornin Joke:

    How many women have you had sex with since high school?

    Would you not like to see his reaction on Mornin Joke?

    I think it would be funny.

    Oh and Joe, whatever happened to that clerk of yours, I mean just before you retired?

    The hypocrisy is incredible. I mean we know Newt had to 'retire'. hahahahahah

    Clinton was a prick. I mean he left his 'essence' all over Arkansas. hahahahah

    But, he voted 80% along my political views! hahahah

    Look, Savage and Hannity and Rush and Beckerhead and a number of folks are given monies to shock and awe us!

    What the hell is a girl to do?


    This whole thing just makes me laugh.

    I hope she makes a lot of money and as I have written afore

    Her proof of the Chief Executive's gism is available at the Smithsonian. 


    And other concubines have made millions on their books chronicling the mayhem caused by this male beast.

    If Americans wish to vote for purity, vote for El Papa!

    You sure the hell aint gonna find purity in the repub party.

    Should we really scorn the Wife?

    My God, this entire comment sounds so, so rotten?

    Well, as I told my daughter a long long time ago...

    All Men Are Pigs!

    All publicity is good publicity?

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