Lewinsky breaks 10-year silence to rap Hillary for blaming woman
Published 07/05/2014 | 02:30
Monica Lewinsky has broken nearly a decade of silence to say she was "troubled" by Hillary Clinton's impulse to "blame the woman" – rather than her husband – for the affair that nearly brought down Bill Clinton's presidency.
Nearly 20 years after her liaisons with Mr Clinton inside the White House, Ms Lewinsky's re-emergence could cast an unwelcome shadow as Mrs Clinton considers a probable second presidential bid in 2016.
In an article for 'Vanity Fair', Ms Lewinsky said she was speaking out to "take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past" but her comments about Mrs Clinton have generated the most interest.
"I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened," she wrote, adding that it was time to "burn the beret and bury the blue dress" – a reference to the now-infamous piece of clothing which became stained during an encounter with Mr Clinton.
Now 40, she maintained her relationship with the president had been "consensual", but added: "Any 'abuse' came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position."
Ms Lewinsky claimed she had turned down $10m (€7.2m) in various offers because it "didn't feel like the right thing to do". Various commercial ventures over the years have never taken off.
Responding to a recently-disclosed 1998 conversation between Mrs Clinton and a confidante, in which the former First Lady described Miss Lewinsky as a "narcissistic loony toon", she wrote if that was "the worst thing she said, I should be so lucky".
Mrs Clinton had insisted that the sex between Mr Clinton and the then-21-year-old had no "real meaning" and said she had not been "sensitive enough" to her husband's emotional state.
In an essay for 'Vanity Fair', Ms Lewinsky writes: "Hillary Clinton wanted it on record that she was lashing out at her husband's mistress. She may have faulted her husband for being inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the Woman – not only me, but herself – troubling."
Ms Lewinsky said she believed Mrs Clinton "blamed herself for her husband's affair (by being emotionally neglectful) and seemed to forgive him".
The renewed focus on Mr Clinton's past infidelities will be welcomed by some of his wife's political opponents as they look for ways to derail her potential 2016 bid for the White House.
However, despite his affair and impeachment by Congress, Mr Clinton remains one of the most popular public figures in America while Mrs Clinton is the overwhelming frontrunner to be the Democrats' next presidential candidate.
Ms Lewinski stated that the affair with the former US president, which happened when she was a 21-year-old White House intern, occurred between two consenting adults. However, she admitted she "deeply" regretted the relationship.
"Sure, my boss took advantage of me," she continued, "but I will always remain firm on this point: It was a consensual relationship."
"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."
She went on to name Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers student who was bullied to death for being gay, as the inspiration behind her decision to speak out after so many years, citing her own feelings of suicide after news of Clinton's infidelity hit the media. Her mother, she says, was particularly harrowed by Clementi's death.
"She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn't let me out of her sight.
"She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal. The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life – a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death."
But, in the wake of Clementi's death, her "own suffering took on a different meaning," she says. "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?"
Her main ambition for the future, she concludes, is to use her famous name to "get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums."
Mr Clinton was being investigated by Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel, on a number of perjury and obstruction of justice cases – all of which he was later acquitted of – when he was given taped conversations between the former president and Ms Lewinsky by her Defence Department co-worker Linda Tripp, who had been secretly recording them.
It led to a 21-day senate trial, during which Mr Clinton's carefully-worded argument hinged on the meaning of the word 'is' when determining the truthfulness of the statement: "There is not a sexual relationship, an improper sexual relationship or any other kind of improper relationship."
It was the now infamous blue dress, gifted to Ms Lewinsky by Mr Clinton, that provided the DNA evidence proving the relationship, despite Mr Clinton's initial denials that he "did not have sexual relations with that woman." "I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never," he stated at the time. "These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you."
On August 17, 1998, Mr Clinton admitted that he had in fact engaged in an "improper physical relationship" with Ms Lewinsky. That evening, he gave a statement admitting to the relationship, which he deemed "not appropriate".
He was subsequently impeached by the US House of Representatives.