Monica Lewinsky is breaking her silence. After decades of maintaining a low profile in the wake of her affair with then-President Bill Clinton, Ms. Lewinsky has written a piece for Vanity Fair that recounts her side of the story and some of the difficulties she’s faced since due to her notoriety.
“I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened,” writes Lewinsky in excerpts from the upcoming piece released Tuesday.
She’s opening up now, she says, in order to “take back my narrative” from others who are using her story for their own purposes. For instance, she insists that her affair with Mr. Clinton was “one between two consenting adults.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky in recent months has described Clinton’s behavior as “predatory” due to the fact that Lewinsky was a 20-year-old intern.
“Someone who takes advantage of a young girl in their office? I mean, really,” said Senator Paul in a broadcast appearance in January.
Lewinsky also writes that she turned down offers that would have paid her millions in the wake of the scandal but then struggled to land a normal work position. She interviewed for numerous jobs in communications and brand marketing after obtaining a degree from the London School of Economics but prospective employers always found her not quite right for the position, she writes.
The problem was “what potential employers so tactfully referred to as my ‘history,’ ” writes Lewinsky.
She’s sharing this story now because she thinks she can help others who feel victimized by unwanted Internet publicity. She cites the cautionary story of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year old Rutgers freshmen who committed suicide after his roommate secretly broadcast images of him kissing another man.
“Perhaps by sharing my story ... I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation,” Lewinsky writes.
Lewinsky has talked about aspects of the Clinton scandal in the past. In 1999, she published “Monica’s Story” in cooperation with journalist Andrew Morton. There were reports in 2012 that she had signed a deal to write a new memoir for $12 million, but such a book has yet to appear.
With Hillary Rodham Clinton mulling another run at the presidency, Lewinsky’s new piece is sure to get lots of attention. In some ways, it represents a replay of the era of the late 1990s for a new generation of young voters.
In response to the Vanity Fair news, Slate political reporter Dave Weigel tweeted:
But it’s not like Lewinsky is breaking the lock on a closed Pandora’s Box. As Paul’s comments demonstrate, political opponents of the former secretary of State appear ready to talk about Lewinsky and what the episode may or may not say about Mrs. Clinton’s role as first lady, whether Lewinsky herself talks or not.
For some in the GOP, the Lewinsky story offers a needed counternarrative to the Clinton’s insistence that the 1990s were a period of prosperity and national good times.
“GOP operatives are bent on combating any effort by the pro-Hillary machine to seize on the nation’s fond memories of the 1990s,” writes Dylan Scott at the generally left-leaning Talking Points Memo.
Of course, many Democrats (and some Republicans) say that the Lewinsky scandal has no bearing on Mrs. Clinton’s possible 2016 run. If there’s ire for the Clintons in the Vanity Fair piece, it’s directed at Bill, who Lewinsky says made her the “scapegoat” in the scandal to protect his “powerful position.”
Not that the scandal hurt Mr. Clinton’s poll numbers at the time.
For all his legal peril at the time (he was impeached by the House, but the Senate refused to remove him from office) Mr. Clinton remained broadly popular while the Lewinsky scandal was in the news during the 1990s.
“Clinton weathered the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998 with fairly high personal ratings – averaging 58 percent that year – and ended his presidency on a positive note, with a 57 percent rating in December, 2000,” wrote Gallup’s Lydia Saad in July 2012.