Monica Lewinsky’s New Interview Sheds Light on Clinton Scandal
After ten years of radio silence, Monica Lewinsky opens up to Vanity Fair in their May issue. In doing so, she not only brings us back to those scandal-ridden days of the second Clinton term but also reminds us of the anything-but-benign way Hillary and Bill dealt with this threat to their power.
“Any abuse came in the aftermath,” Lewinsky remarks when talking about the affair that launched investigations, impeachment hearings, and a thousand tabloid news careers. “when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.”
It is those words from a woman who was only 22 years old at the time of the affair that encapsulate the entire ordeal in a way that few have stopped to think about in the time since. While Republicans were straining to turn an illicit affair into a sign of presidential incompetence and Democrats were doing everything they could to distance themselves from their hero, critics on both sides of the aisle regarded Lewinsky as an inconsequential punchline. Unfortunately, in positioning her as the slut and the homewrecker and rarely commenting on anything more substantial than her looks, most of the media missed out on the bigger story: what this ambitious couple from Arkansas would do to hold on to their power.
Any fan of HBO’s House of Cards would have to willfully miss the parallels between the series’ power couple, Frank and Claire Underwood, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. While not quite a thinly veiled roman a clef like Primary Colors, the hints are there. And if anyone thinking about voting for Mrs. Clinton in 2016 doesn’t think that these two are more concerned about the power they wield than the lives they change, they simply haven’t been paying attention.
“The Clinton administration…[was] able to brand me,” Lewinsky claims in the interview, blaming also Ken Starr, the media, and various other political operatives with their hands in the pie. There can be no question that the Lewinsky scandal was a career-making story for hundreds—if not thousands—of Washington gadflies, but for the Clintons themselves, it spelled almost certain doom. The lurid details themselves were nearly enough to sink the ship. While Clinton was able to avoid being thrown out of the Oval Office, his popularity took an enormous hit in the wake of the attention.
Hilary Clinton is undoubtedly cursing Lewinsky’s decision to break her silence just as the run-up to her own run for the presidency begins to take flight. While she has not yet officially announced her candidacy, she is far and away the odds-on favorite to carry the Democratic nomination. Skeptics, of course, are already waving their hands at Lewinsky’s words. She brought it on herself, they will say. No sympathy for an adulteress, others might opine.
The thing is, you don’t have to sympathize or feel sorry for Monica to listen to what she has to say. And if you don’t want to take her word for it, you can always listen to former Republican congressman James Rogan. “White House operatives portrayed her as a deranged stalker to any reporter willing to listen,” the once House manager says when talking about his new book, Catching Our Flag: Behind the Scenes of a Presidential Impeachment.
Make no mistake about it: behind all the philanthropy, the measured interviews, and the grandbaby announcements lie a couple with an insatiable need for power. Woe be unto anyone who stands in their way.