Monica’s Lingering Legacy

The scandal that gave us today's obsession with sex and power turns 20.

Credit: Larry St. Pierre/Shutterstock; U.S. Government photo

“Did you know there’s not one kid who has died in Iraq who wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for Monica Lewinsky?” legendary 60 Minutes chief Don Hewitt told journalist Carol Felsenthal in 2006. “I think Monica did more to change the world than Cleopatra.” It was just 20 years ago this January that the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke and forced traditional print and broadcast news media, for the first time, to compete and deal with the rising phenomenon of Internet journalism, as reflected in the emergence of Matt Drudge. As we look back from today’s media circus of sexual assault and gender politics, from the shocking revelations about Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby, Roy Moore, and even Donald Trump, we can see that Don Hewitt wasn’t kidding.  

This article appears in the January/February 2018 issue of TAC.

Feminist journalist Amanda Hess, writing in Slate, was correct in suggesting that Lewinsky forced America to “bumble through an unprecedented national conversation” about sex and power—a conversation that continues today. No doubt many articles, listicles, and trivia traps will explore what happened back then. But I’m more interested in what happened because of Lewinsky since then.    

The biggest political Super Password for the past year or two has been the subject of normalizing aberrant, decorum-defying behavior. In this way, the Lewinsky scandal was like Donald Trump on steroids. Once the mainstream media “normalized” into acceptable political dialogue such things as stained Gap dresses and underwear, or exotic uses for the once-innocent cigar, then it’s a short distance to having a presidential candidate bragging on tape about grabbing the genitals of women he hardly knew. The 1991 Anita Hill hearings may have set the stage, but Monicagate massacred the last of the JFK/Don Draper “old boys club” journalistic norms that governed what was appropriate in discussing male politicians’ private sex lives.

Maureen Dowd acknowledged in a 2011 retrospective that Ann Coulter was right when she said that feminists “rewrote their own rules” on sexual harassment to accommodate 50-year-old Bill Clinton and his just-out-of-college, subordinate intern. Camille Paglia asked her fellow post-feminists, “Since when did the president use the interns as a dessert cart? ‘Mmmmm, she looks good!’” The late columnist Marjorie Williams sadly agreed in her brilliantly sarcastic 1998 Vanity Fair article that feminists have “muffled, disguised, excused, and denied the worst aspects of this president’s behavior with women.”

Many women were, in fact, disgusted with what Monicagate had revealed. And of course, if Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones were to be believed, there were far worse things to worry about. Yet as Dowd and Coulter noted, by the time he actually faced trial for removal from office in early 1999, most feminist and left-wing women had lined up to support Bill. Williams added that it was “plain enough why feminists want to keep Clinton in office.” He had supported feminist initiatives, empowered unprecedented numbers of female Cabinet members and federal court judges (including Madeleine Albright and Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and had been more pro-choice and pro-gay than any president up to that point. 

More to the point, 1994’s “Republican Revolution” had also given unprecedented visibility and clout to the Religious Right. Journalist Nina Burleigh famously said that she would have given Bill Clinton oral sex to show her gratitude for “keeping the theocracy off our backs.”  Feminists may have been disappointed or mad at Clinton, but their blood boiled as they watched hardcore social conservatives such as Rick Santorum and Jesse Helms gleefully “appropriating” the language of the Anita Hill hearings for their fundamentalist agenda. Burleigh spoke for them when she said that impeachment was just an “insidious use of sexual harassment laws to bring down a president for his pro-female policies.”

On the other side of the street, while most social conservatives were disgusted and outraged by the tawdry details of Monicagate, they weren’t particularly surprised by them. To these conservatives, the scandal was simply the smoking gun that everything they’d been saying about Bill Clinton—that he was a dope-smoking, wife-swapping, sociopathic user, a self-indulgent narcissist contemptuous of “family values”—had been right all along. Indeed, if Jerry Falwell or Antonin Scalia had been allowed to look ahead 20 years at all the things they would hate the most about 2018 society—open gay marriage, “Shout Your Abortion,” transgender teens using the girls’ locker room—they would have probably almost expected it. The fact that Bill Clinton not only got away with the Monica mess but was de facto rewarded for it, with a five-seat pickup in the 1998 congressional midterms followed by complete Senate acquittal, was proof of the “moral opprobrium” (to use Scalia’s favorite phrase) that they saw in U.S. society.

Indeed, Lewinsky sizzlingly pulled back the cover on the cracks that were starting to form in the post-Reagan Republican dam. Does anybody really think that Newt Gingrich, who left his first wife when she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery, let alone people such as Dennis Hastert, who later elocuted in court to abusing young boys sexually, or toe-tapping closet cases such as Mark Foley and Larry Craig—does anybody think that these people really went all Aunt Pittypat with shock at Bill and Monica having a little after-hours fun? Or even at the fact that Clinton lied about it under oath—as if any of them were exactly truth machines?

But watching such conservatives as Jerry Falwell and William Bennett wailing “Where is the Outrage?!” on CNN or John Hagee fulminating on TBN about “Witchcraft in the White House!” made many members of the strictly-business wing of the party (including overtaxed doctors and lawyers as well as true plutocrats) wonder if the Red America social conservatives they had regarded privately as useful idiots had now taken over the asylum. Did some hotshot exec really want some snoopy special prosecutor like Kenneth Starr tattle-taling to his wife about all those sexy salesladies and coked-up, lap-dancing babes back at Convention Week? Pat Buchanan’s famous 1992 “Culture War speech” may have been the appetizer, but Monica was the main course, the episode that stirred many secular Wall Street and Silicon Valley types to say au revoir to the Republicans and sign up with neoliberal, corporate Clinton Democrats.

Perhaps most importantly, Monica symbolized the passing from second- to third-wave feminism. The height of the 1970s-style, Gloria Steinem/Gloria Allred era of “women’s lib” was also the height of titillating, sexy pop culture shows like Three’s Company, Charlie’s Angels, Dallas, and first-wave slasher movies (not to mention Boogie Nights-era “respectable” porn.). Objecting to the “objectification” of the “jiggle” era, the shoulder-padded, power-suited, largely desexualized female executive (not unlike Hillary Rodham Clinton) now became the new feminist icon. Murphy Brown, Clarice Starling, Agent Scully, and Cagney & Lacey were to be judged as professional women on their career accomplishments, not on sudsy, sexploitative love scenes or how they looked in wet T-shirts and bikinis.  

Ironically, the only women who were truly allowed to playfully express their sexuality and exert sexual power over men in the mid-to-late ’80s and early ’90s were the “bad girls”—Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, Joan Collins on Dynasty, Susan Lucci “having it all” on All My Children, Heather Locklear on Melrose Place.   

But that era was fading when Monicagate broke. The hottest book this side of Harry Potter was Bridget Jones’s Diary. The two most influential sitcoms to appear as impeachment loomed were Will & Grace and Sex and the City. Buffy and Xena had just started kickin’ butt in sexy form-fitters, Ally McBeal was balancing a thriving work and love life and Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel were trading off smokin’ hotties among their Friends. Desperate Housewives, The Devil Wears Prada, and Eat Pray Love were coming up next, followed by Amy Schumer, Mindy Kaling, and Lena Dunham after that.  

Hollywood A-lister Shonda Rhimes told the press that she insisted her educated, self-sufficient, professional TV heroines be overtly sexualized and have steamy scenes as a sign of their feminist liberation. “I hope my daughters grow up to have amazing sex,” she said, later adding that “women owning their sexuality” should not be “taboo.”  When a conservative woman angrily questioned why Rhimes insisted on regular and graphic LGBT sex scenes, Shonda shot back on Twitter “[You] are not only LATE to the party but also NOT INVITED to the party. Bye Felicia!” Not surprisingly, her fellow auteur Ryan Murphy announced that Season 4 of American Crime Story would be All About Monica. And for all the slut-shaming and late-night TV jokes that she had to endure, Monica Lewinsky personified the educated Gen-X or Millennial woman envisioned by Shonda Rhimes, “reclaiming” her sex-positive power instead of trying to lock it up and hide it in a briefcase.

The biggest blowback from Monicagate was, of course, its official sequel—Bush v. Gore. Vice President Al Gore was absolutely horrified when he learned the truth, not only because it offended him and Tipper but because of what they (correctly) feared it would do to Gore’s presidential prospects. After all, he had been an overtly pro-life (84 percent from Right to Life) and anti-gay (voting at times alongside Jesse Helms) “family values” congressman and senator while representing conservative Tennessee. He switched to social liberalism only when he went national on the 1992 Democratic ticket.  

Last year in The New Republic, Jeet Heer controversially accused Republicans of being “Addicted to Whiteness.” Likewise, the more the ascendant Democratic elites became proudly diverse and alternatively lifestyled, the more Al Gore embraced, in the wake of impeachment, “respectability politics.” Whether it was shaming a dreadlocked young black man about gangsta rap and hip-hop on MTV, or lecturing blingy Democratic donors such as Barbra Streisand, David Geffen, Les Moonves, and George Clooney about Hollywood immorality, or even tongue-kissing his wife Tipper at the Democratic convention to “prove” that their marriage wasn’t in any danger of breaking up (not yet, anyway), Al Gore just couldn’t quit “distancing himself” from Clinton. When Gore chose William F. Buckley’s and Rush Limbaugh’s favorite Democrat for his running mate, finger-pointing conservative Joe Lieberman, a one-man trigger warning to the progressive left, Ralph Nader’s insurgent third-party campaign gained sufficient strength to be a factor in the outcome.    

The result was an analog-era version of this year’s Bernie Sanders/Jill Stein disruption. Even including Hillary’s subpar scores among Millennials, no Democratic candidate since Michael Dukakis had scored worse among 18-34 voters than Al Gore in 2000. By contrast, Bill Clinton won Generation X by almost 20 points in 1996, and Obama’s later blowouts among youngsters were even bigger. Even as most socially conservative voters thanked God for Dubya’s victory (initially), their worst fears were realized. Young and lefty voters had walked out on Gore in Florida and New Hampshire (in favor of Nader) not because Gore was too liberal and combative but because he hadn’t been liberal and combative enough. Meanwhile, Clinton left office with Reagan-like approval ratings. The country got Bush—and the Iraq war, as Don Hewitt notes.

Asked why he wanted to impeach Clinton, Newt Gingrich famously replied “Because we can!” Bill Clinton, far from apologizing, tossed down the gauntlet with the words, “We’ll just have to win, then!” And after months of defending Clinton as totally innocent and Kenneth Starr’s investigation as just a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” when Monica’s telltale dress finally came out of the closet, defensive media Clintonites were just as unapologetic in their attitude. There is a straight line from “Because I can!” and “We’ve just got to win then!” to today’s liberal protest marches proclaiming #Resistance, while red-staters reply “Trump 2016: F— Your Feelings!”  We want to win because we want YOU to lose. The all-or-nothing, zero-sum, no-mercy rules of today’s “trolling” politics were written all over Monica Lewinsky’s blue Gap dress.

Don Hewitt was right. The Monica Lewinsky scandal changed the world. Far from just another tabloid trashout, Monicagate was a dose of truth serum to Washington’s platitudinous facade. The 1998 Clinton impeachment circus cut so close to so many raw nerves that the actual truth of “who done it” became a subordinate clause to the very inconvenient truths of sex, power, and gender that no one had wanted to talk about—until they were brutally forced to. Now they’re not forced to, but it often seems that’s all they want to talk about.

Telly Davidson is the author of a new book on the politics and pop culture of the ’90s, Culture WarHow the 90’s Made Us Who We Are Today (Like it Or Not). He has written on culture for ATTN, FrumForum, All About Jazz, FilmStew, and Guitar Player, and worked on the Emmy-nominated PBS series “Pioneers of Television.”

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39 Responses to Monica’s Lingering Legacy

  1. Cash says:

    Yes, Dems protected Clinton despite all his misdeeds. I don’t regret it one bit. Americans picked their side and fought for it. Turn on Clinton and get more of that rascal Gingrich? The other Republicans were sanctimonious scum. That’s why Clinton left office with sky high numbers. Whatever else he did, he knew how to govern. Had Gore not been a wimp with a political tin ear, he would have embraced Bill and won an easy victory.

    Monica set stuff in motion we are only now seeing. A zero tolerance policy for any sex-related screwup that Dems are enforcing against other Dems, the Repubs exempting themselves.

    Still, give me Bill over Hillary, Gore, Bush, Obama, Trump. No regrets. No second thoughts.

  2. William Dalton says:

    Telly Davidson certainly takes us, blow by blow, through the tragedy of 1998-99 that led us to the lethal impasse which the nation suffers today, both in politics and in loss of moral cohesion of society. But he misses, I think, that the fulcrum upon which it all turned was not Monica Lewinsky, but Al Gore. He, more than anyone, was responsible for the Republicans’ failure to remove Bill Clinton from the White House. It is he who chose to come out and publicly defend Clinton, knowing what he had done, when all he needed to do was remain and quiet and let the course of justice take its course. That would have been sufficient permission for enough Senate Democrats to treat the trial of the President as the serious matter it was, weigh the evidence against the law, and vote to convict as the Constitution called for. At that point, as President, Al Gore would have had an open road to the White House which would not have left the nation biting its nails, not only on Election Night 2000, but a month thereafter. Not only Gore, but all Democrats, would have been free of the Clinton albatross, Gore himself would have enjoyed all the benefits of being at the helm when the post-Cold War peace dividend and the booming economy it brought would have put the nation in the pro-incumbency mood such conditions normally bring, and, most importantly, it is Gore who would have had all the benefits acting and being seen as Presidential. Yes, it is true that with Gore as President, the fateful decisions made post-9/11 would likely have been very different, perhaps even that history-bending attack itself may have been foiled or never brought to fruition. But, most importantly, the nation would not have allowed itself to “define deviancy down”, the drive to redefine both sexual and gender identity would have more likely been thwarted, and the Republican Party might have been saved from those forces which took it over during the G W Bush era. Most importantly, the nation would never have been induced to elect the man for whom the alley cat Bill Clinton paved the way – Donald Trump.

  3. cka2nd says:

    Yes, but the GOP’s attempt to impeach Clinton distracted them from the deal they had in principle with him to partially privatize social security, which had gone so far as White House staff looking into ways and formats to replace the Social security Number. In other words, thanks to Monica Lewinsky, we’ve had another 20 years of the Social Security system. For that alone, she is THE political heroine of the 1990’s in my book.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Perhaps Lewinsky deserved a moment of shame for her actions; but she did not (and does not) deserve to be your headline here; your shorthand for talking men’s bad behavior.

    You could as easily call this the Ken Star moment; the Bill Clinton moment, the Newt Gingrich moment (which has a nice irony to it). It’s too convenient for you to use the woman’s name, a woman who has been shamed beyond any reasonable standard, without thought to the cost to her life.

    Which is really shameful on your part.

    Leave Monica Lewinsky out of this; she’s paid her price.

    The real story here is that the reckoning of the cost of men’s bad behavior (including behaviors of Gingrich & fellow members of the GOP house at the time) has hardly begun. Knee-jerk habits like continuing to shame Lewinsky, to use her as shorthand for men’s actions, has barely begun.

  5. Michael says:

    This is not Monica’s Legacy, she was the secondary actor. This is the legacy of Bill, Hillary, Gore, e.g. al.

  6. Dan Green says:

    JFK, and Slick Willy hold down first place. Supposedly JFK had the ladies visit through the side entrance to the White House. Not to be out done Bill booked appointment to the oval Office.

  7. Doug says:

    Yeah beacause a consensual sexual encounter is cause for impeachment. Talk about hypocritical!

  8. connecticut farmer says:

    I find it interesting that we only hear an occasional peep from the apex of the most famous menage a trois in modern American history, whereas Bill and Hillary still remain very much in the limelight, albeit for different reasons–and much to the regret of many Progressives who would just as soon see Madame withdraw to Chappaqua and her chardonnay so she can bay at the moon with only Huma and remanded copies of “What Went Wrong” to keep her company.

  9. Slugger says:

    What if Ken Starr had concluded his investigation into Whitewater with stating that he found no overt crimes in this real estate venture? We might have been spared the fulsome spectacle of public professions of morality by people whose personal lives are no more spotless than anyone else. Our political leaders are no closer to sainthood than any random segment of our population. People who care deeply about personal sexual morality should watch all politicians and should probably keep a special close eye on people who they find sympathetic. David and Baathsheba are a lesson.

  10. Youknowho says:

    @William Dalton

    You might want to rephrase this:

    Telly Davidson certainly takes us, blow by blow….

    Clinton caused news anchors to say “oral sex” in their broadcasts.

    Trump caused news anchors to say “s***hole” in their broadcasts.

    Some legacies…

  11. EliteCommInc. says:

    If memory serves and it does . . .

    It was the appointment hearings of justice Clarence Thomas that changed the media, legal, social and political landscape of intimate behavior run amuck.

  12. JCM says:

    Lyndob Johnson claimed to have “had more women” than JFK, so he may be alley-cat-in-chief. But no one likes to picture it.

    Poor Al Gore he may have missed the Presidency three times: if he had run in 1992, he would have been available when the Flowers story broke; in 98-99, he should have succeeded a disgraced Bill Clinton, and, of course, if it wasn’t for the unexpected wave of support for Buchanan in FLorida among elderly Jews in 2000…

  13. Paul Clayton says:

    Too bad impeachment was all about blow jobs in the Oval Office. That kept everyone’s attention off the real scandal, the transfer of our missile technology to China. Google it boys, Loral, changes in what department had oversight on launches of our sensitive satellites, from Defense Dept to Commerce, this gave Clinton the ability to send U.S. high tech satellites to China for launch on their missiles, which could barely hit the broad side of a barn. A small team of U.S. Military personnel accompanied each satellite. When the rockets fell over on the pad and exploded, the aforementioned military personnel were held back while Chinese technicians went through the remains. Clinton, to ensure no further destruction of American payloads on Chinese rockets, ‘helped’ the Chinese make their rockets/missiles more reliable and accurate. How? Lots of ways. Direct transfers of tech, laptops with secret info mysteriously going missing, fires at our missile testing sites (White Sands), after which ‘stuff’ was found to be missing, Wen Ho Lee (google it), Johnny Chung, Bernie Scwartz of Loral, etcetera. Despite Cliton’s farm boy sex scandals, you have to give him credit for being the father of the Chinese missile program. Before Clinton, Chinese rockets were a joke, after Clinton they were as capable as ours. AND… I’m sure millions of American boys will forever remember President Clinton as the man who discovered and proclaimed that ‘blow jobs’ were really not sex.

  14. Whine Merchant says:

    We can argue ad infinitum about what was the catalyst, but the cycle continues. The real question is how [if?] it can be stopped. Not to return to the days of press complicity in silence, but to covering the important issues rather than distracting the populace with reality TV style mock scandal and outrage to garner clicks for ad revenue.

    An important step in the decline was when we shifted from Cronkite and Huntley-Brinkley style newscasting to folksy banter infotainment style. The public became confused when the same importance was given to political issues and Hollywood fashion trends.

  15. EliteCommInc. says:

    “AND… I’m sure millions of American boys will forever remember President Clinton as the man who discovered and proclaimed . . . were really not sex.”

    While the Miss Lewinski mess did briefly blot out the transfer and sale of this tech, it did come to light. It would not be the last of a series of global exchanges risking our security in the name of economic benefit. Those are policy options that could be prevented, What we cannot change by way of policy is the graphic crude references about intimate behavior used as weapons in bids for power or or simply to destroy the lives of others.

    And to clarify the innuendo of the above comment. What you are leaning on as import is a characterization of the argument. Certainly oral behavior of that graphic nature is a form of intimate contact, The public understood the fine line in question. That when we refer to “having sex” we generally understand that to mean penetration. It further challenged the efficacy of the entire discussion as appropriateness and worse seriousness. I remember the public discussion And whatever my opposition to Pres. Clinton and his liberal/democratic agenda he forced a confrontation which the those advancing a case against him on intimate misconduct and lying about it would lose.

    Because in the public mind, in the arena of privacy not only did the public already people will protect their private intimate conduct, even when “innocent” by lying about it. In other words — private intimate behavior was out of bounds as a tool for any form of coercion. That did not mean the public approved of any stray from spousal fidelity, but rather consensual behavior — had a sphere that that should not be forcibly intruded upon.

    Sure oral behavior can certainly be “sex”, but that is not generally what is meant when it is referenced. As someone who holds to celibacy/abstinence if single, the lines of what constitutes exceeding the boundary(ies) is one that is confronted regularly. While I may consider such be across the line — I am careful of importing that exactitude on someone else.

    For the public what constituted “sex” was not as clear as the President’s opponents which started out as questions about land deals, graft, an d money laundering and turned on the issue of intimate consensual contact — was out of bounds, despite saucing the goose with evidence of affairs and rape. And when it became clear that more than one Republican member of Congress were in affairs, had affairs, multiple wives, an d other questionable behaviors — the veracity and sincerity of what was taking place fell apart in the public and for all workable practices – just wanted the mess to cease, And while impeachment occurred — it was a loss in more ways than one for the political class and the public.

    And in the end with all of that — the Republican party still just pulled off a Republican win, Losing the battle of personal and professional integrity. Damaged most effectively by Hustler magazine. The door of propriety in politics opened during the Justice Thomas hearings, were taken off their hinges and burned. As a conservative, it was very embarrassing. For me it remains embarrassing to this day.

    The liberal class won that war and they continue to win it. Another foundation principle (discretion) shattered by conservatives/republicans.

    A needless and poor strategic sacrifice. I wonder even if Miss Coulter, and Laura Ingraham consider the matter worth the price we have paid and by we, I mean the republicans and the country. Our moral superiority – was further shattered by revelations of “conservatives” involved in gun running, pitting native american reservations against each other for casino rights, election tampering and the Iraq war filled with inaccuracies and contradictions and it inevitable failure. I include Afghanistan as well.

    And all that gave us same sex marriage, and a sexual dystopia running on auto-pilot.

  16. EliteCommInc. says:

    correction: misscharacterization of the argument

  17. Nate J says:

    Monica Lewinsky saved Bill Clinton from getting the full Weinstein treatment today.

    In a sick twist of fate, Slick Willy became a symbol of sexual empowerment and liberation (“It’s just a little consensual sex, man… Why you getting so uptight?”) instead of a rapacious scoundrel, the allegations against whom would otherwise rank right up there with the worst in Hollywood – the people we are now hounding.

  18. KS says:

    Given that Monica hit on Bill, all this whining about scandal is just that, whining. There was no scandal. Two people had consensual sex.

    If there is any scandal, it is that a whole 5 centuries after the mayflower landed, Americans are still joyless puritan prudes about sex, and schizophrenically so, swinging wildly from one extreme to the other, while making sure to lecture in the most righteous terms the person they pass swinging by the other way.

    Americans would benefit greatly from dropping their righteousness, and relaxing a little. No matter how pure you think you are, your poop smells. And you have a lot of poop, you just try to airbrush it away.

  19. KS says:

    @Rebecca, Monica hit on Bill. What part of that did you miss?

  20. Many women were, in fact, disgusted with what Monicagate had revealed. And of course, if Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones were to be believed, there were far worse things to worry about.

  21. cka2nd says:

    That’s “remaindered copies,” not “remanded copies,” connecticut farmer. I used to be in the book business.

  22. connecticut farmer says:

    @Elite Comminc.

    In the end it was the economy which saved Clinton’s bacon. If it had been 1978 when mortgage interest rates were perking along at 17 percent(!) Clinton wouldn’t have lasted a month–the masses would have insisted that he swing from a sour apple tree.

    The DJ trumped the BJ. (Did I say “trumped”?)

  23. Dan Green says:

    As the Brits tell us we place far to great an emphasis on a US President. When it comes to their private lives you can clear up any mis conceptions by simply reading history. Most of these individuals were simply their own person.

  24. EliteCommInc. says:

    “In the end it was the economy which saved Clinton’s bacon.”

    I think that too was a factor. But not nearly as devastating as the entire idea of impeachment about a personal indiscretion. Once Miss Lewinski made it clear her choices, and her responsibility — the game was up.

    It reveals the dangers of a special prosecutor as a political weapon. As it turned out Pres Nixon had nothing to do with ordering a break-in. But the resulting tapes revealed why we have private and closed door sessions — because if everyone heard every word we uttered — oy veh.

    I am not denying that a faux healthy economy wasn’t helpful – no doubt. But given the non-magnitude or vital national interests of the case, had the economy been worse, it might have actually benefited the Pres more.

    That in the light of a struggling economy , the matter that was on the attentions of government was private consensual behavior — it might have been even worse for Congress. I know that in light of all that whatever short term gains — the costs have been enormous for conservatives.

  25. EliteCommInc. says:

    ” If it had been 1978 when mortgage interest rates were perking along at 17 percent(!)”

    In less than a year we would discover that appearances were deceiving, there was no surplus, but their was fancy accounting in Washington and wall Street. The Wall Street reality set in seven years later.

    Had Congress been paying attention, they could have impeached the President for his accounting practices — but then who in Congress wants to admit that they are mismanaging tax payer money — that’s a tough sell, having been complicit in the matter.

  26. Rebecca says:

    @KS, there is nothing wrong with a woman hitting on a man; though now, in the workplace, it might well be considered sexual harassment.

    But at the time, he consented, and because he consented, we came to recognize the power differential that matters in the workplace. I fully recognize she did was morally inappropriate; but it wasn’t illegal, and given the mores of the time, it was not considered out of bounds. It was not something deserving of a whole movement being branded with her name 30 years on; she’s paid a huge price, she’s been victim not just of Clinton’s accepting her overtures but of Tripp’s betrayal and Ken Star’s investigation.

    At the heart of this is recognizing who holds the power; and in this case, she might have held the power of quick sexual gratification, but that’s thin gruel that women have been blamed with for centuries. He held to power to destroy her life in more ways than we can begin to count, including the propensity of provoking a political witch-hunt. We don’t name Weinstein moments after his victims, but that’s exactly what we do when we label anything Lewinsky.

  27. b. says:

    The public response to the Republican impeachment carnival illustrates the existential dilemma of Dreher’s tribe of the righteous – the more The People at large see of the US evangelical “denomination” of organized Christianity, the less they like them – any branch.

    Being told with absolute certainty that all us fallible humans will burn for eternity will do that. A hollow faith of pro-war big-God-try and prosperity gospel does not help, but sadly, that is a distant second in the causes that lead from somebody like MLK to Dreher and his ilk.

    Clinton was a liar and a terrible president – incarceration, financial deregulation, NATO expansion, for starters – and there were many good reasons to reject him. It was not Monica Lewinsky, but the arrogance and spineless opportunism of the Goppers that save his presidency. Obama, who ran the Fed Bubble to the finish line, setting the stage for the next Great Recession, and who absolved Bush’s torturers and war profiteers and expanded Bush’s impunitive wars, benefited from similar Gopper service.

    But then, the Democrats are even worse. We have heard quite enough of their damn Russians at this point – soon they will believe that Trump is actually a Russian citizen. Maybe they should ask for his birth certificate?

  28. connecticut farmer says:

    @EliteComminc.

    As it turned out, the economy was indeed “faux healthy.” Totally agree. On many levels, America was deceived–as always by both parties.

  29. KS says:

    @rebecca,

    Oh please women are attracted to men with power. If Bill had no power she would not have been attracted to him. All this talk about power differential is just empty rubbish.

    And all this nonsense that she has suffered enough, all this rubbish trying to paint her as some victim also empty rubbish.

    This is the most remarkable statement, and shows the toxic state of woman’s consciousness and acceptance of responsibilty
    ‘she being the victim of Clinton accepting her overtures’

    You make overtures and you are the victim?

    Monica was an adult and as such must face the consequences of her actions like any other adult. You make overtures they have consequences, deal with them.

    Women you want equality. Then truly accept it. Why are you expecting men to protect you from your own overtures? Bill had no responsibilty to protect Monica, she was an independent adult. And men have no responsibilty to protect women in an equal society.
    She was a adult and as such

  30. Ray Woodcock says:

    I’m not sure what this article is about, but I enjoyed it. I will say I’m glad Davidson finally reached the end: everyone should be allowed to take a breath now and then.

  31. MACKERAL says:

    Was Monica a honey trap to make Clinton “behave”? I think so. She was no Miss America.

  32. EliteCommInc. says:

    “Was Monica a honey trap to make Clinton “behave”? I think so. She was no Miss America.”

    I think Miss Lewinski was a young woman who worked at the WH. There was chemistry as people want to do, they on occasion allow themselves to succumb to their own desires. I don’t she was a plant, good grief, there could have been any number of willing traps — just circumstance place and chemistry.
    I also think she deserves applause. She could have bandwagoned the victim train — but she took responsibility for her choice. Despite my views on fidelity, in this day and age for a woman to accept responsibility for her actions, feelings, etc when so many escapes exist.

    I think that is commendable. And she should be commended for it. I can only imagine one’s private intimate moments on display and worse used as political fodder —

    integrity matters — bravo to her.

  33. PAX says:

    EC “Bravo to Monica.” What have you been smoking? She knew exactly what she was doing. Screw a married man (POTUS at that) fess up and get a medal for being courageous. No! It was a honey trap to discipline him.

  34. EliteCommInc. says:

    “EC “Bravo to Monica.” What have you been smoking? She knew exactly what she was doing. Screw a married man (POTUS at that) fess up and get a medal for being courageous. No! It was a honey trap to discipline him.”

    I agree that she knew what she was doing as to her behavior. I don’t think she thought of herself nor has she acted as “trap”.

    And if so, what a lousy trap. Let’s see if I get this. You are saying that entrapping a President known to have issues – and popularly known to have broken fidelity — was trapped by a fling that was consensual.

    The very worst of CIA schemes would have faired better. lousy job — and one that utterly backfired. There is no indication that Miss Lewinsky was anything of the kind, given what we now know, she was probably not the only such relationship.

    Look a honey trap, has a clench and that clench would have been Miss Lewinsky, pulling a “mea culpa” #metoometoo and meetoo, alas the poor girl. In fact Miss Lewinsky did just the opposite. She was embarrassed and ashamed, she didn’t hit the political circle crying “rape” “abuse” she acted as most people would — embarrassed. She may have gotten some compensation is a personal settlement — but if she was a “romp” coup detat, mistress, she sure performed badly.

    And given your characterization of known events —

    She got no medals and didn’t ask for any. You are confusing her with Mrs. Tripp who tripped and stumbled her way into a spotlight and something far less heroic than she thought.

    If anyone was trapped it was those who took the bait and ran with it. As I say, it was the first major step in deconstructing the polity that Republicans walked a moral high ground in the public’s eye.

    What a careless mismanaged mess, but then gutter hunting tends to be that.

    Be careful, I am not supporting, applauding infidelity, but taking responsibility — is something worth acknowledging.

    — Trying to snazz up what occurred during that period with intrigue — good grief.

  35. EliteCommInc. says:

    “She was no Miss America.”

    Well,

    then hardly a case for money trap. Because for the cause of entrapment, you’d want a Miss America, a woman who’s maturity, and standing would withstand the scrutiny, not a young woman fresh from the ranks of college.

  36. PAX says:

    EC You are grasping at straws. You are defending the indefensible. Who does that best? Not worth wasting future electrons on your ravings. Goodbye!

  37. R. L. Hails Sr. P. E. (ret.) says:

    Clinton’s affair with a young subordinate did change the world but it was the last straw, not the first and essential facts were omitted from this recount. President Clinton was impeached, not for sex, but for lying to the American people while under oath. His prosecutor, Ken Starr, did not make him lie. Clinton lied. That was the trauma to Americans, our leaders lie to us.
    Other omitted facts. Starr was tasked with investigating corruption, by the Clintons, in Arkansas. Starr discovered the sex angle, asked his bosses, Appellant Judges, to let him drop this line of prosecution and was ordered to continue.
    No America adult believes that Republicans are pure and Democrats are wh%^e mongers. But this conduct was far beyond; Bill Clinton was a sex fiend. And President.
    Catholics had to face it later in priests’ conduct; it has traumatized the congregations.
    It is not a small thing to be lied to.

  38. EliteCommInc. says:

    “EC You are grasping at straws. You are defending the indefensible. Who does that best? Not worth wasting future electrons on your ravings. Goodbye!”

    I would be curious what it is you think I am defending. I don’t think it is what you think it is.

  39. EliteCommInc. says:

    “No America adult believes that Republicans are pure and Democrats are wh%^e mongers. But this conduct was far beyond; Bill Clinton was a sex fiend. And President.”

    Nonsense. The country neither approved lieing or presidential misconduct. And if there had been a bundle of nonconsexual behaviors on the list, the matter would have treated far differently by the public. But that was not the case. What you had in office was a man who by accounts was unfaithful. Whether it was once or twice while unsettling is generally held as issue between the intimates involved.

    The argument about lieing looked merely as a ploy of political gamesmanship. Not a call to some high moral code. And it was on a matter most citizens consider private — even if it involves the Pres. Coupled with how lousy it was dealt with, the carelessness and the sensation, – a moral contention lost any force. And to make matters worse, the accusers were found wanting.

    Once the fog cleared, the storm just had very little value.

    And for people of faith,m there is a very prudent, method for dealing with this type of issue and it is not the side show we saw during the campaign. And as many of us said, had they followed that prescription, the impact of the personal indiscretion would have been greater. This was not the moral victory you claim — not even close. It was not even the political victory that was desired.

    I am astonished that conservatives to this day are not embarrassed by the behavior of the party and supposedly conservative commentators. For those of us old enough to have sat through the Justice Thomas hearings — what one hoped was a fluke – seemed to be a matter of course. The matter with Pres Clinton came across as children’s tit for tat. For all of the accusations about murder, cocaine, money laundering, missing documents, and several prosecutions for dealing with land speculation with people in business with the Clintons, I thought — certainly there will be some indictment.

    But in the end it turned out that all that could be uncovered was — hiding a personal indiscretion. No lieing is not a minor issue. But the when all was said and done, those eager to “get the president” sure made it look minor. They made the lie appear trivial. In context it was.

    In reference to SP Star, you’ll have to do a lot better than,

    “The judge made him do it.”

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