Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Why Now?

Monica Lewinsky has a column in this month’s Vanity Fair in which she opens up about The Affair.

I don’t really have to tell you which one, do I? Unless you are younger than 20, maybe 21, it would have been really hard not to be at least dimly aware of the incident that may have brought down a President.

This is a woman whose name will be forever linked to scandal. I can imagine it’s hard to live like that, particularly when your own involvement in the scandal was not illegal. I mean, she’s not Charles Manson or Sirhan Sirhan. About the closest parallel in our lifetime is Yoko Ono, and she got a lot more support from the man involved than Lewinsky did.

Lewinsky’s only “crime” was entrusting her secrets to a woman who thankfully slunk off into the hell of obscurity after betraying a naïf. I won’t mention her name. Google is your friend if you don’t recall.

Lewinsky turns 40 this year, and so I’m sure she saw an opportunity, indeed perhaps even a need, to get this off her chest. Kudos for her. And kudos more for finding a sweet spot in the political calendar to engage the country again.

In fact, it says a lot about Lewinsky that she doesn’t hold a grudge – much. In fact, she sympathizes with the other “other woman” in this mess, Hillary Clinton, and points out that her anger was not misplaced but perhaps misdirected. (Clinton, it was recently revealed, blamed Lewinsky and herself for the mess, claiming she was emotionally unavailable to Bill at that time, thus neatly deflecting blame from Bill Clinton himself.)

Anyone who’s known me for any length of time knows I believe Bill Clinton’s place in history as one of our greatest Presidents will become more and more apparent as time goes by. The tragedy of his administration was the energy and drive that Clinton showed publicly slopped over into his private life, or I think already his place in history would have been secured.

Nonetheless, by stepping forward now, Lewinsky does Hillary (and Bill) a favor: it’s far enough ahead of even the midterm elections to have minimal impact as a talking point – altho you can bet Republicans will try. And certainly by 2016, the nation will have digested, mocked, and finally accepted Lewinsky’s words for what they are.

An honest attempt to fix history. For that, I think we should thank her.