Monica? Really?

6 May

Monica Lewinsky has a story to tell. But now might not be the time to do it.

Monica Lewinsky is now 40 years old.  It has been 17 years since her affair with Bill Clinton, who at that time was President of the United States.

Surely, anyone who was at least a teenager during that time remembers that scandal.  Monica was a White House intern who dropped some not-so-subtle sexual  flirtations the President’s way.  He was already rumored to be a womanizer and  he did nothing to squelch those rumors by having his little tryst with Ms. Lewinsky.   It led to an impeachment and to a erosion of trust in our country’s leadership.

But it’s over. Clinton is no longer in office.  The scandal is scarcely mentioned.  Monica has been out of the limelight for some time.  And it appears she misses being a household name.That’s the only conclusion to which one can arrive when most recent news outlets are informing the public that Monica is publishing an article in the upcoming  issue of “Vanity Fair” magazine.

Monica’s article is all about the events of that time from her side of the scandal.   According to some news accounts,  the article will recall the humiliation she suffered during that time. It will also accuse the Clinton administration of making her the fall guy in the whole situation.   It could be very uncomfortable for Hillary Clinton, who is said to be gearing up for a 2016 Presidential run.

Lewinsky writes in the article that she was “branded” by special prosecutor Ken Starr, politicians from both parties, and the media.  She says the attempt to label her was successful because of the power players behind the effort.

One thing that Lewinsky will not due is dodge responsibility. She writes in the article that the whole liaison between her and Bill Clinton was consensual.  She does say that he took advantage of her in his position as her  employer, but says she will always be firm in maintaining that he affair was by mutual agreement.  The problem, according to Lewinsky, was not in the actual affair but in the aftermath in she felt she was being used as a scapegoat in such a way as to protect the President’s reputation.  She says she feels nothing but regret for what happened between her and Clinton during that time.

Why was she silent all these years?  Many in the world of gossip have claimed that she was paid off by others to keep quiet but Lewinsky says that is a lie.  She says her reasons for coming forward now is in an effort to help victims of online harassment and humiliation. She says she wants to speak out on this issue in public forums.

The reputation that Lewinsky gained as a result of her affair with Clinton has hurt her efforts to get ahead in the employment world.  Too many times, she has either been turned down because of her reputation or was strung along for a period of time from some companies who wanted to gain attention from the media.

Lewinsky also admits to entertaining suicidal thoughts during the peak of the scandal but never actually attempted anything. She says she finally stepped forward to talk about those infamous events that were brought to light during Clinton’s second term because of the fate of a young man named Tyler Clementi.  Clementi, 18, committed suicide recently after a video of him kissing another male was made public online.

One can appreciate the efforts to help others. One can appreciate the idea of using a horrible event that forever altered their life to enrich the lives of others. Nobody should have a problem with that.  But that is not the only issue at stake here. What seems to be more of a motivation is Monica’s desire to get back into the spotlight.  There are other ways to do so.

Consider Donna Rice. She was involved in an affair in 1988 with Gary Hart, a frontrunner for the 1988 Democratic Presidential nomination.  When news of the affair broke, it knocked Hart out of his winning position and eventually out of the race.

Where is she now?  She is now a 52-year-old stepmother, wife, and advocate for internet safety. After the scandal, Rice says she he returned to her faith and basically stayed away from any media spotlight for about seven years.  She met and married Jack Hughes and began her new life. Eventually, she gained a leadership position for a non-profit organization called “Enough Is Enough”. This organization has the mission of fighting against pornography and exposing such to children in both print and broadcast media.

Donna Rice Hughes could have stepped forward and been the subject of every trashy talk show in the United States. She could have written her own little “tell-all”.   But that was not the path she chose to take.  She has credibility to speak out against sexual exploitation because she herself once took part in it (at one time, she even turned down a chance to pose for “Playboy” magazine).   When she began appearing in the media again, she was recognized as the object of Hart’s affections but at that point, she had credibility.

Lewinsky does not have credibility. She has not stepped up to the plate for anything. One could argue that she is trying to do that now. But there are problems with that argument.  To begin with, she is not a victim of online harassment.  There is reason to feel sorry for Lewinsky.  She will forever be known for the events that happened all those years ago. It will be a label that always sticks. But let’s be honest. She is not a victim. She willingly entered into an affair with a man she knew was married.  She engaged in immoral activity and knew that there was not a chance of it ever turning into a “live happily ever after” situation.

Yes, the same can be said for Donna Rice Hughes. But Hughes chose a different path. She chose to put it behind her and get on with her life. She chose to re-define herself. She chose to let others know that this was part of her past. It was not her present. It would not be her future. Because of that, people are listening to Hughes.

Lewinsky’s stepping up at this time has all the earmarks of a “Hey, don’t forget me” attitude.   Her motives may be pure but her efforts don’t show that.  Stepping up to write an article (that she probably got paid a pretty penny for) just shows a longing for the limelight.  Hughes never stepped forward to talk about that event. She stepped forward to talk about other things and people recognized her.

Monica, meet Donna.  More than likely, one can learn from the other.  Lewinsky has a story to tell. But her timing seems off.

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