Monica, Hilary and Me: Will
The Chickens Come Home To Roost?

By

Leonard Zwelling

         If there was ever a person I thought I would not see on the
public stage again, it was Monica Lewinsky. But there she was this week in
Philadelphia discussing her new cause celeb, cyber-bullying. She claims to be
“patient zero” in this epidemic due to the beating she took in the relatively
early days of the Internet after her sexual affair with President Clinton
became public.

         I have to admit I never did understand the fuss over the Monica
Lewinsky Affair. That’s because I believe that if you make a mess and confess
and be contrite, most people will give you a second chance for they too have
messed up at some time in the past and understand human frailty. Thus, if Mr.
Clinton had just said, yes, I did have sexual encounters with this young woman
in the Oval Office and I regret having done it, I doubt he would have been
impeached. After all, for what? Having sex with an intern is not illegal and
certainly not a high crime or misdemeanor. It’s just stupid.

         But, alas, Mr. Clinton lied under oath about his dalliance
and embroiled the country in a needless debate about how frank to be with our
kids on the subject of the details of the consensual sexual encounters of the
Leader of the Free World, even those encounters that are truly unwise. He was
impeached and could have been convicted if not for a Democratic majority in the
Senate. And he probably should have been, not for the sex, but for the lying.

         Let’s make it even a bit worse. We are now 16 years removed
from the Lewinsky Affair and Bill Clinton is a hero of the Democrats. He is
wheeled out on a regular basis to campaign on behalf of candidates for high
office and apparently still packs a political wallop. (See, I told you
Americans give politicians second chances.) I wonder if President Clinton would
be enjoying his post-presidency as much had the Senate been in the hands of the
GOP after his impeachment and the economy was not benefitting from the dot-com
bubble as he exited Washington. I don’t know, but I do know that for a guy who
embarrassed himself and the country as he did, Bill Clinton has fared very
well. (My understanding from sources in Israel is that he gets $500,000 for
some speeches.)

         Ms. Lewinsky has paid a far higher price. In her recent
speech (for which she was probably paid far less than $500,000), she described
her humiliation as well as her thoughts of suicide as her reputation was
trampled into the mud for no real reason at all. Other than showing poor
judgment, a not uncommon trait of 22-year olds, I don’t believe that she did
anything wrong beyond initially denying the relationship. The secretly recorded
audiotapes of her confessions to Linda Tripp broke the case open for Special
Prosecutor Kenneth Starr. In summary, Bill Clinton, the putative adult and
certainly more powerful of the two principals, behaved deplorably and is now
enjoying the fruits of his presidency. Ms. Lewinsky who behaved stupidly, but
not all that criminally has paid a much higher price. Is this justice? Not by a
long shot.

         Where does this leave Hilary Clinton, the scorned wife?

         That’s a hard one, but will become relevant again if she
decides to run for President for she will be running as a Democrat thus doing
so on a platform with planks of equal pay for women, reproductive rights for
women and in general a more liberal agenda on issues involving sex, gender,
equality and interpersonal relationships. Yet, Mrs. Clinton sure looks like
someone who stayed married to a real cad given the ex-President’s propensity to
take up with women long before Ms. Lewinsky became a household name. (Remember
Paula Jones?)

         How great a champion for women’s issues can she be when she
clearly “stood by her man” despite his dreadful behavior and how is she going
to explain her choices in response to her husband’s awful behavior while he was
the Governor of Arkansas and then President of the United States? (Somehow I
doubt Woody Allen’s “my heart doesn’t know from logic” is going to be the
bumper sticker for Mrs. Clinton’s run for the White House.) Can she really
serve as a paragon of women’s rights given the history of her marriage? We
shall see. Benghazi may be a larger obstacle for her being elected than
Lewinsky.

         For those of you who have not been humiliated publicly on
even a small scale due to job loss, indiscreet behavior, a short temper, poor
judgment or just bad luck, let me assure you it is not fun. It is really not
fun when you were trying to do the right thing, you were made to pay a price,
and your persecutors have prospered. But, that’s life. The only choice is to
move on.

         Mr. Clinton won the job lottery and continues to benefit
from his Presidential service despite having behaved like a teenage boy in
testosterone storm while occupying the most powerful office on Earth. Thus, the
children of America cannot be blamed for believing that good does not triumph
over evil, there is no penalty for bad behavior, and that there is no justice
in the world.

         Ms. Lewinsky undoubtedly has struggled for the past 16 years
and is now courageously trying to do something good with her notoriety, albeit
that celebrity was nothing she sought nor would not like to trade away. Good
for her.

         Mrs. Clinton will likely attempt to be the first woman to
ascend to the Presidency. My guess is that we don’t even know of half the
bodies she has run over to get this far both in Little Rock and in Washington. As
the First Lady of Arkansas, the First Lady of America, a US Senator and the
Secretary of State, the body count under her campaign bus is probably high. Given
the ethics of the man she has repeatedly chosen to share her life with, you
can’t help but wonder what message she got about how to behave in a powerful
office.

         I used to be a real supporter of Mrs. Clinton for I thought
that no one could be better prepared to ascend to the highest of offices. I am
changing my thinking and it is thanks to Monica Lewinsky. At a time when moral
leadership is so lacking everywhere and American young people have no role
models given the steroid laden Major Leagues, the woman beating NFL and politicians
that cannot answer a question about who they voted for (and that’s a woman!),
perhaps what we need in the next President is something we haven’t seen in the
office for a very long time. An adult.

We
could use a few of them in Houston, too. 

Leonard Zwelling