Monica-Marketing

What can be said about the money machine being built around Monica Lewinsky? The journalistic/political/legal phase of her evolution as a public figure is largely past. "Infotainment" is upon us. Promoters on both sides of the Atlantic see dollars for the plucking.

Wednesday night's network interview with Barbara Walters set the pace. The advertising cash raked in by ABC ($800,000 per 30 seconds) was fives times the normal rate. Ms. Lewinsky got only exposure, but the payoff for her, her agents, and (above all) her lawyers is at hand - a book published here and in London, a paid interview on British TV to be syndicated in other countries, and so on.

Will the US public, tired of "the affair" just a few weeks ago, now blithely plunge back in for more? Will the all-too-familiar saga revive as pure soap opera, freed of political heaviness?

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We hope not, because, at heart, the Lewinsky-Clinton saga is about adultery, moral emptiness, and blindness to the larger interests of family and society. The packagers with dollar signs in their eyes may try to hide that unappealing truth. But they can't.

Just as the impeachment trial turned Americans back to their constitutional roots, so the sexual relationship that set it in motion should turn people back to their moral roots. That includes the president and Ms. Lewinsky. Sensualism and self-gratification are not values but their absence. That's where the real meaning of this story lies, no matter how incessant the Monica-marketing.

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