Tuesday, March 05, 2002 posted by Jen at 3/05/2002 10:56:00 PM
Ten thoughts on Monica Lewinsky after the HBO special....
1. She sounded much smarter than I thought she would. From everything I've read, I was expecting a doltish, giggling Valley Girl. Not so. Sure, I would've preferred a little more sympathy for Clinton's family. Maybe not Hillary, who's never struck me as an easy woman to sympathize with, but what about Chelsea?
2. Andy Bleiler. What a scuz. And his wife! With that weird, demented glow in her eyes as her husband steps in front of the camera and cops to shtupping his students (and, as we later learn from the forum, Monica wasn't his first or his last). And that ponytail!
3. Linda Tripp. Oy vey. Okay, so you're horrified and embittered by what you see happening in the White House -- I can understand. You're eager to nab a lucrative book deal. Still with you. But why not try to convince Monica to tell her story, rather than the clandestine tapings, and the "Oh, you look fat in that dress, why not just leave it in the closet" shtick? (Which, by the way, should've been a sign that Linda Tripp wasn't a real friend. Real friends do not say "That dress makes you look fat." Real friends say, "You know, I think I like the black one better.")
Yes, Monica was unswervingly loyal to Clinton -- even when he and his operatives were spreading the word that she was a little bit nutty, a little bit slutty, a deranged stalker, a flasher of panties, a serial seducer of married men. She said, in one of the infamous tapes, that she had no respect for Paula Jones or Kathleen Willey -- "they're distracting the country," I think the quote went. But couldn't there have been a scenario where Tripp (or, really, more likely, an alternate-reality, kinder, gentler version of Tripp) said, "Look, we've got a president who uses and discards young women like Handi-Wipes. You've got the power to tell your story. You've got the power to make this stop."
And then Lewinsky comes forward, without the FBI dragging her into hotel rooms and threatening her and her mother with public humiliation and jail time -- with physical evidence of what had transpired, with emails and gifts -- and says, "Look, this happened. And the Paula Jones thing most likely happened, too. This isn't how we want our leaders to behave. This isn't how young women employees of the government should be treated. This isn't right. Maybe he needs help, maybe he needs to not be the president any more. That's not for me to decide. But this behavior needs to stop. And also, I'd like a job in New York." And Clinton gets sanctioned by the House and goes into treatment the same place Michael Douglas went, and Monica winds up as a heroine for young feminists, possibly with her own line of lipstick. Which reminds me...
4. If one of the things you're notorious for is a particular sex act, why wear sparkly glossy lipstick during your TV appearances? Matte, baby. Matte!
5. Those Vanity Fair pictures. Big mistake. Made her look like she really was just in it for the fame and notoriety, which, after seeing the special, I don't believe. Although I can see how tempting that particular plum might have been when they dangled it in front of her (who among us hasn't envisioned hersel at the center of our own expertly styled, beautifully shot Vanity Fair layout? What? You haven't? It's just me? Oh well).
6. Michael Moore. Shut up. Seriously, I agree with him about lots of things, but his behavior during the Lewinsky scandal was one of the most worst examples of the way liberals were willing to overlook bad behavior on the President's part, and demonize his accusers in order to further their own agendas (or maintain the political power structure that would further their agendas). Even if Monica had announced that she was headed to D.C. to get her "presidential kneepads," doesn't ANY of the blame reside with the president who was only too happy to let her earn them?
7. Bay Buchanan. Bay Buchanan was the only pundit shown on the show who made the case that Monica was a victim here. This is the first time I've ever agreed with her about anything. I fully expect it to be the last.
8. Ted Koppel. Still relevant, dammit! Oh, wait, that's what I want to write about next.
9. Linda Tripp's face and form. As anyone who's read GOOD IN BED knows, I believe that people should be valued for who they are, not how they look, not what size they are, not whether they're sporting a horrid poodle perm and a series of quivering chins or not. Having said that, boy, it sure was convenient that Linda Tripp -- and I'm talking about the pre-plastic surgery Tripp -- looked as ugly and unpleasant outside as she seemed to be inside. Then again, I'm not sure that the producers of the HBO special didn't play dirty pool -- or at least resort to lazy visual shorthand -- by telegraphing Tripp's nastiness via slow-mo close-ups and unflattering mug shuts.
10. And finally, the guy in the audience with glasses and heavy accent who accused Monica of spouting self-serving drivel, and not taking responsibility for the mess our country had to go through -- your blame is misplaced.
Yes, she had the affair. Yes, she lied on her affidavit. Bad things both. But she saw an investigation that looked like it a politically motivated panty raid, financed by a rabid right-wing establishment desperate to bring Clinton down -- if not for Whitewater then for Paula Jones, if not for Paula Jones, then for Travelgate, if not for Travelgate, then for Monica. She decided that her sex life was her own business, and that her loyalty belonged to the Big Creep. Bad decisions. But was what she did -- signing a false affidavit -- really as morally reprehensible as what Clinton did? Or what Linda Tripp did?
The country went through a terrible time. But Monica Lewinsky was one of the victims -- not one of the architects -- of that time. If you're looking to portion out the blame, there's plenty to go around for both sides. Some for Bill, who did the deed. Some for Hill, who blamed that illusory vast right-wing conspiracy rather then dealing with the trouble in her own house.
Some for Tripp and some for Starr and some for the feminist establishment that sold Lewinsky (and Jones, and Juanita Broadrick, and Gennifer Flowers and Kathleen Willey and probably many, many more) down the river, in order to keep their Prince Charming in power. Some for the male pundits and blonde pundettes who made their names during the scandal. And sure, some for Monica, who should have learned somewhere that sleeping with married men will only lead you to heartache (surely they do still think that in Beverly Hills....right?)