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Thursday 21 August 2014

Wife of former US Vice-President Lynne Cheney gets flak for Lewinsky jibe

Orla Healy

Published 11/05/2014 | 02:30

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Official White House photo taken Nov. 17, 1995 showing President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky at the White House
Official White House photo taken Nov. 17, 1995 showing President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky at the White House

Lynne Cheney, wife of former Bush VP Dick, is getting blowback following her allegation that Bill and Hillary Clinton masterminded Monica Lewinsky's decision to write a personal essay, "Shame and Survival", for Vanity Fair magazine.

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And not just from Democrats. Or those sympathetic to Lewinsky. "I really wonder if this isn't an effort on the Clintons' part to get that story out of the way," the former Second Lady declared on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Tuesday night, suggesting Lewinsky's article was a "strategy or tactic" for "getting it out of the way so we can say, 'it is old news'".

Mrs Cheney, who is doing the media rounds to promote her new book about former President James Madison, also accused Vanity Fair of being in cahoots with Camp Clinton in a scheme to inoculate Hillary's presumptive 2016 campaign against the Lewinsky affair. "Would Vanity Fair publish anything about Monica Lewinsky that Hillary Clinton wouldn't want in Vanity Fair?" asked Mrs Cheney, who somehow must have missed the magazine's exhaustive 2008 expose portraying Bill Clinton as a self-destructive compulsive adulterer surrounded by business cronies.

Beth Kseniak, the magazine's director of PR, responded to Mrs Cheney's conspiracy theory with a dismissive ("Seriously?") snort.

Influential conservative activist Grover Norquist was more serious, cautioning fellow Republicans to resist the urge to use the 16-year-old sex scandal to hurt Hillary.

"This is the same trick the Clintons pulled on us back in '98," Norquist told Buzzfeed. "We didn't campaign against the massive overspending, or anything else. We were distracted by this bright, shiny object they handed out which was Monica Lewinsky ... It will be the same thing this time: 'Pay not attention to the reset of foreign policy with Russia, or Libya...' It's like in baseball, if they throw out a bad pitch and you swing at it, then you're an idiot."

Lewinsky, whose "it's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress", 4,300-word essay was published in full on Thursday, says she decided to speak out now because she didn't want to be forced underground if Hillary ran in 2016.

"Despite what some headlines will falsely report about this piece, this is not about me versus the Clintons. In 2008, when Hillary was running for president, I remained virtually reclusive," she writes.

"When I hear of Hillary's prospective candidacy, I cannot help but fear the next wave of paparazzi, the next wave of, 'Where is she now?' stories... I've decided to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past."

Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, who first featured Lewinsky in a 1998 pictorial (styled by L'Wren Scott), says he had hoped publishing the story might prompt people to cut Monica some slack. "She's had a rough 15 years," he said. "I was hoping the next 15 might be better."

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