Comment Of The Day
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Tuesday September 22, 1998

The President Going Down #10

or, Monica, We Hardly Knew Ya....

Reality is setting in as all the testimony becomes available. This is not a story of political power and abuse of power. It is not a story of perjury and subornation. And, most of all, it is not a story of a flawed president who is sick with sensual preoccupation and sex addiction. Far from all of that, this is a human story about a couple of people who were trying to find their way through the same issues that confront each of us every day: loneliness, love, fear, and the desperate need to be needed and held in the most basic and everyday human ways.

Only the most thoughtful readers will know the truth of what I am going to say next (for they practice it themselves): as we witness this story unfolding before our reluctant eyes, we should forgive, when called to condemn, we should stoop down and write in the sand, and then we should forgive again. There are none among us who have never felt the same things as these two people and there are none among us who have not done things we know very well we shouldn't do. Once that is established, then the story becomes far more interesting and, in fact, encouraging. But of course, there are those who will never agree to their own fallibility, their own weakness, who will strut the "hold to a higher standard" flag out upon the stage, and then they, as they always do, will miss the point. People are, always have been, always will be, people. Anything else, signifies nothing except self-delusion and manipulation of events.

Before we get to to her interview, it has been written and commented about how much the Grand Jury really liked Monica. Well, in case you missed that, suffice it to say that these carefully chosen people, representing a cross-section of America's diverse population, were smitten with the Monica-bug right off the bat. Witnesses have stated and the testimony bears it out, that they actually loved her and kept her in the room well past the point of simple questioning; like a wamr embrace. And they called her back more than any other witness. Clearly more than they needed to. (Remind you of anything?) In time, it will come out that the Grand Jurors did not agree with the Special Prosecutor's conclusions about President Clinton, because they too were affected by her simple, guile-less, and charming ways. When all is said and done, it will be clear to everyone that Monica is a doll, a sweetheart, an innocent who knows the ways of men, and passes through those walls as if they weren't there. She goes for the heart, directly. Because it is there, in the emotional, bare-naked center, where she is the happiest, as, if truth were told, are we all. In many ways, far from an embarrassment to mankind, she actually verifies something very important in people, although many are in denial.

Actual transcript... The jurors are asking the questions.

Juror: Okay, Ms. Lewinsky. Your relationship with the President, did your mother at any time try to discourage the relationship?

Monica: Can you guys call me Monica? Are they allowed to call me Monica instead of Ms. Lewinsky? I'm just 25...

Juror: But you'll always be Ms. Lewinsky, whether your 25 or 28....

Monica: Not if I get married.

Juror: The question, Monica....?

Monica: Yes, she did.

Juror: Well, what kept it going, I mean what kept it -- you keeping it active or whatever?

Monica: I fell in love.

Juror: Did you think that the President was in love with you also?

Monica: There was an occasion when I left the White House and I was pretty stunned at how I felt because I did think that.

Juror: You did? Do you remember the date?

Monica: It was July 4, 1997.

Juror: And today, Monica, do you still love the President?

Monica: Before Monday (the President's admission speech) I would have said yes.

Juror: So then it's no?

I don't know how I feel right now. I don't think it's so much that I've changed my mind. I think -- it's -- it was so very painful for me to watch his speech on Monday night. I -- it's -- it's hard for me to feel that he has characterized this relationship as a service contract and that that was never something that I ever thought it was.

Juror: I'm sorry, you've lost me already....

Her testimony goes on to relate that it wasn't just oral sex, or just "sex" at all. "It was a lot more than that to me." She was upset that he didn't even "acknowledge me in his remarks," and she felt responsible for what had happened. She stated that she has tried very hard to do everything she could not to hurt him. Then one of the jurors, at this point throwing a stone at her, said, "Well, I mean it wasn't like you went out on dates or anything like that like normal people, so how was it more than oral sex, or just 'sex'?" Now, that wasn't nice was it?

She responded with descriptions of all of the fun they had talking in person, eating pizza, bantering, teasing, flirting, and the phone calls. She talked about the affection, the hugging, he would stroke her hair, they would hold hands, they would talk about politics (she offered him her solution to the Paula Jones situation: pay up and get it behind you), the gifts back and forth, the helpful best friend, Vernon Jordan, and the tears and sadness as the relationship ended. In fact, she did a very
good job, if one was listening, describing how the relationship was a lot more than a contract for oral sex. The picture she painted of Bill Clinton was one of a kind, isolated, affection-craving, tortured and conflicted, human being who met you halfway and was more often than not a very good and very interesting friend. The Linda Tripps of this world are always there with their doubt-inducing manipulations, ready to tape. But even Betty Currie was obviously fond of Monica and saw the positive side to things, as described in her testimony.

So, in the end, we have a sweet young woman, in love with someone she shouldn't even know, and a powerful, lonely man who, like so many of us, needed a friend, who saw a chance for something lovely and warm, and, took it, giving back as much as he could, and probably a little too much.

It's not exactly Romeo and Juliet, to be sure. But, it's not Richard Nixon. That was all about the abuse of power, perjury, cover up and breaking the public trust. This was about human fraility, love and lust, loneliness and isolation, and in the end it will be about forgiveness.

So, let's begin the end of Bill and Monica's incredible adventure: let's forgive them both. Let's allow the will of the American people to prevail over the Tripps and the Starrs and the Grinches (or is it Gingrichs?) and the lawyers who don't really care one way or the other. Can we do that? Can you do that?
Time will tell.

See you next time.

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