Monica Lewinsky joins Twitter: Why that's bad news for Hillary Clinton 2016

Monica Lewinsky has re-entered public life, again. Why the former White House intern's return could pose a problem for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Jon Furniss/Invision/AP
Monica Lewinsky joined Twitter and is campaigning against cyberbullying. Here, Lewinsky is at The Masterpiece Marie Curie Party in London on June 30, 2014.

With three simple words, Monica Lewinsky has broken her silence, re-entered public life, launched a campaign against cyber-bullying - and, quite possibly, thrown a major wrench in Hillary Clinton's purported plans to run for the presidency in 2016.

The former White House intern who had an affair with President Clinton in 1998 joined Twitter Monday with this simple tweet:

That tweet came ahead of Lewinsky's first public speech in 13 years, a Forbes Under 30 Summit in which she spoke about cyber-bullying in a speech entitled, "Monica Lewinsky and the Internet's Reputation Shredder."

“I was Patient Zero,” Lewinsky said in her speech. “The first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet.”

She said that the death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, whose college roommate streamed video of him kissing another male student, inspired her to share her own story of Internet shaming and how the Clinton affair scandal nearly ruined her life. In an earlier essay, Lewinsky wrote, “Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation."

Lewinsky's re-re-entry into public life (she's "broken her silence" several times before, as the Washington Post points out, first in a 1999 tell-all book, then an interview with Barbara Walters in 2000, and finally a Vanity Fair essay in 2014, all before joining Twitter) is a smart move for the former intern whose name has become synonymous with sexual scandal.

Why? On Twitter, Lewinsky can communicate with the public on her own terms, at her own discretion - there's no editor, handler, or network executive who may spin her story to suit their objectives.

And by describing herself as 'patient zero,' Lewinsky re-frames her role in the well-known scandal narrative from "the other woman" to a victim of cyber-bullying, simultaneously earning her both credibility on the public stage as well as compassion - both of which she's struggled to achieve in the past.

So far, it's paying off: Lewinsky received a standing ovation for her speech at the Forbes Under 30 Summit - and she's already got more than 20,000 followers on Twitter.

One person unlikely to be following Lewinsky on Twitter: Hillary Clinton.

The former intern's re-emergence on the public scene comes just as Hillary Clinton appears to be seriously considering running for president in 2016. And Lewinsky has indicated she won't sit out future political campaigns as she has in past election cycles.

In an article she wrote for Vanity Fair magazine in May, she said it's "time to stop “tiptoeing around my past—and other people’s futures," a phrase some observers liken as a reference to Hillary Clinton and her political ambitions.

How bad is Lewinsky's return to public life for Hillary Clinton, should she choose to run?

It's probably somewhere above nuisance and below Anthony Weiner on the "Political-Death-Meter."

The good news for Hillary: her team reviewed Clinton library documents labelled "Monica Lewinsky" last week and no new bombshells where revealed - a relief for the potential 2016 candidate.

Hillary Clinton has been working overtime to define herself as a family-oriented figure. In her new book, "Hard Choices", as well as related magazine essays, she has discussed her upbringing, her relationship with her mother, her experience with daughter Chelsea, and her intense excitement at becoming a grandmother.

Political observers see it as a move designed to humanize the potential candidate and bury any thoughts of her husband's sex scandal and the turmoil it brought to the family and the nation, courtesy Bill Clinton's near-impeachment (impeached by the House of Representatives, acquitted by the Senate).

When asked about Lewinsky's Vanity Fair article earlier this year, Hillary Clinton told People magazine she didn't read the essay and said, "I've moved on."

Alas, with each tweet, speech, and article Lewinsky broadcasts to Americans, she exhumes what Hillary Clinton has made great efforts to bury in preparation for a likely 2016 bid for the White House.

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