The story you thought was long over is back: Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern whose affair with President Clinton eventually led to his impeachment and made her the object of punch lines and scorn, has written an article in Vanity Fair in which she says, “It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress.”
Lewinsky, who was 21 at the time of the affair, is now 40. She writes that it’s “time to stop “tiptoeing around my past — and other people’s futures.”
The full article is available today in Vanity Fair‘s digital edition. You need a subscription to access the story. Here are some excerpts.
On the affair with the president:
“Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. … The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”
How the scandal affected her employment prospects:
“I was never ‘quite right’ for the position. In some cases, I was right for all the wrong reasons, as in ‘Of course, your job would require you to attend our events.’ And, of course, these would be events at which press would be in attendance.”
On reports that Hillary Clinton recently told a friend that Lewinsky was a “narcissistic loony tune”:
“My first thought, as I was getting up to speed: If that’s the worst thing she said, I should be so lucky. Mrs. Clinton, I read, had supposedly confided to [her friend Diane] Blair that, in part, she blamed herself for her husband’s affair (by being emotionally neglectful) and seemed to forgive him. Although she regarded Bill as having engaged in ‘gross inappropriate behavior,’ the affair was, nonetheless, ‘consensual (was not a power relationship).’ ”
Lewisnksy writes that she decided to come forward after the suicide in 2010 of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers University student who was secretly watched via webcam kissing another man. She says that following his suicide, “my own suffering took on a different meaning. Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation. The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?”
Drudge, Dowd and Beyoncé:
“Thanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet.”
During the scandal, she says she referred to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who criticized Lewinsky for her role in the scandal, as “Moremean Dowdy,” but “today, I’d meet her for a drink.”
And of Beyoncé’s song “Partition,” Lewinsky writes: “Thanks, Beyoncé, but if we’re verbing, I think you meant ‘Bill Clinton’d all on my gown,’ not ‘Monica Lewinsky’d.’ “
Reaction to the piece has been, as you might expect, swift.
Lynne Cheney, the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, told Fox News that she wondered “if this isn’t an effort on the Clintons’ part to get that story out of the way. Would Vanity Fair publish anything about Monica Lewinsky that Hillary Clinton didn’t want in Vanity Fair?”
Hillary Clinton is seen by many as a Democratic presidential contender in 2016.
Slate political reporter Dave Weigel wrote that the VF article is being talked about as Lewinsky’s first words on the affair with Bill Clinton, but is in fact not. He says:
“It’s been 15 years since Lewinsky cooperated with Andrew Morton for Monica’s Story, which you can pick up for $0.01 on Amazon, so hot is the interest in this story. (Even after you pay shipping, it’s cheaper than a copy of Vanity Fair.) It’s been just 12 years since Lewinsky cooperated with Monica: Black and White, a documentary she promoted on cable news. It’s been 10 years since Bill Clinton published My Life, his memoir, and Lewinsky broke her silence to accuse the former president of lying.”
As for Dowd, she wrote in her column Tuesday that she’s game for a drink with Lewinsky, wished her luck, and said: “Though she’s striking yet another come-hither pose in the magazine, there’s something poignant about a 40-year-old frozen like a fly in amber for something reckless she did in her 20s, while the unbreakable Clintons bulldoze ahead.”
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