Bill Clinton was the married person in the affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Clinton was the former governor of Arkansas.
Clinton was the wealthy one.
Clinton was the most powerful man in the free world.
Clinton was Lewinsky’s senior by more than a quarter of a century.
But more than 16 years after their illicit relationship inside the White House, it is Lewinsky who continues trying to reclaim her name while Clinton has moved on, becoming a millionaire many times over and is seen as not only a leader in the Democratic Party, but an international statesman and humanitarian.
What’s worse is that many of the women (and men) who preach equality, who say they speak for the underdog and the voiceless, who under other circumstances would have quickly labeled this sexual harassment, continue to give Clinton a pass while reserving no sympathy for Lewinsky.
It is a shame.
I have no quarrel with Clinton. He made a mistake, paid for it dearly and was allowed to move on. That’s as it should be.
The shame is that Lewinsky has not been afforded the same shot at redemption, and that people who would normally be on her side not only don’t seem to care but are actively hostile to her plight.
It’s stunning. And sad.
I get that part of it is about protecting Clinton from hyper, far-right attacks. I agree with that.
But everything can’t be about politics. Some issues are bigger than that. And this is one such issue.
How can you preach equality and be OK with the different ways these two have been treated? How can you say you cherish equality and not want Lewinsky to get a fair shake?
How can you say you don’t want the powerful to abuse their positions then all but blame the person who had the least amount of power in this case?
How great would it be if Clinton came forward and told people to back off Lewinsky, to give her space to breath, to live and work freely? (Others are apologizing to the Clintons.)
That type of gesture seems even more important with the release of a report showing that Lewinsky was bullied by prosecutors and was trying to protect Clinton.
From the article:
Lewinsky, now 41, has long felt that she was mistreated by authorities in the 12-hour marathon session, which began as an ambush at the food court at the mall at Pentagon City in Virginia and then moved to a hotel room at the mall’s adjoining Ritz-Carlton hotel.
As it turns out, so did government lawyers who conducted a comprehensive review of the incident in 2000, two years after the encounter. Their findings are contained in a report — recently obtained by The Washington Post — that key players had long believed was under court-ordered seal.
According to the report, a prosecutor who confronted Lewinsky ‘‘exercised poor judgment and made mistakes in his analysis, planning and execution of the approach.’’ The report, written by two lawyers appointed to investigate the matter by Robert Ray, Starr’s successor as independent counsel, concluded the ‘‘matter could have been handled better.’’
The report also lays out the encounter in detail, suggesting that it quickly spun out of control as a shocked and hysterical Lewinsky asked to consult a lawyer or a parent — even as prosecutors grew increasingly determined to persuade her to agree on the spot to cooperate against the president.
The confrontation was one of many memorable elements of a scandal that remains a subject of fascination for many Americans 16 years after it threatened to bring down a president.
No matter what Clinton decides to do, or not do, I’m hoping Lewinsky is allowed to find her way to redemption.