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Tuesday, September 15, 1998

The President Going Down #7

"If I had Known What Kind Of PersonYou Really Were...."

Well, then. That's what President Clinton said to Monica in a late night telephone fight between the Starr-crossed lovers. He went on to say, "...I wouldn't have gotten involved with you."

Come on. This whole thing is getting a little sophomoric even for the most optimistic observer. Where does Bill get off thinking that in some cases you DO know what a person is REALLY like before you get involved with them? So, there you are, You're the President Of The United States, and you notice a White House intern eyeing you. You smile and raise your eyebrow. The next thing you know, apparently, you've become intimate, in an extramarital kind of way, with this young woman, in the hallway, in the bathroom, in the Oval Office (for heaven's sake!), and now, late at night, you're talking with her in one many lengthy phone calls and she's threatening to tell the world everything, if what?. If you don't marry her? No. If you don't own up to your love child? No. If you don't give her a good job somewhere so she could go on with her life? Yes. And now you say, "If I had known...." Well, Bill, it's disappointing, really.

So, all of this smoothes itself neatly into a our view of this situation: Bill Clinton is a lonely, desperate-for-affection guy living alone at the top of his chosen game, everything in the world he ever wanted is his, but he has no one to share it with. He lives in a golden bubble and a marriage of convenience. He is a man who needs a hug. The hug presented itself and he took it. And, a fatal embrace it was.

Monica herself was not working with a script. She winged it all the way. She was confused, broke, living alone, wearing the same dress a couple of times in a row, then washing it. She was the prototype of the starving young intern. TV at night. Nothing in the fridge. Her "so-called life." And, then the heavens opened and the sun shined in. She suddenly was in the arms of the President. He was lonely too. He wanted affection too. They could talk for hours. He included her. They exchanged gifts. They talked on the phone. She had a life. Things were exciting. She would do anything he wanted. Hang around the White House staging "chance" encounters. Bringing in a pizza. Waiting in the bathroom, "Stay there, Honey," while he takes phone calls and receives visitor in the Oval Office. Her friends depict her as a sweet and an "achingly self-depreciating young woman." Not menacing and not stalking. They say she trusts easily and even now still has great affection for President Clinton. Here is a quote from today's New York Times, "When she began the affair, she was apparently so needy she was willing to perform oral sex in a bathroom on a man who took telephone calls during their liaisons and did not get around to having an extended conversation with her until after they had had sex a half a dozen times."

Does that sound like a situation where the Boss is taking advantage of his position to you at all? And in the middle of the Starr's report where he is interviewing Monica's mother about all of this, Ms. Lewis' Mom states that the President was well aware that Monica had had a bad time at the hands of previously callous men and that he said (she said), "that he would be her friend, or he would help her, not hurt her."

Perhaps in your memory there is the rare occasion when you would have said anything to keep getting what you wanted, so perhaps this sounds familiar as a tactic to an end? And, in the end, Monica has been through the meat grinder, the clothes ringer and totally reamed out. As has been Bill, too. And, Chelsea. And you and me. And the country. And our national institutions. Wow.Yes it's been a real love fest, Bill. From that first flash of her thong underwear, all the way to deposition, it has been bizaaro world on display. At first she thought she was a "stand-in girlfriend," for one that had been furloughed during the shutdown. When he called her, "Kiddo," she assumed he had forgotten her name. The cigar incident speaks for itself. The groping in a reception line, her calendar count down to election day (he promised to "bring her back" after reelection), Romeo and Juliet in the Washington Post's personals (he told her he saw it), Bette Curie's curious actions to facilitate the mind-boggling indiscretions, the 50 drafts, never mailed, of letters to Bill in her apartment (found during the search), the 30 gifts exchanged, the promises of "more time together in the future," and despite the fact of months and months going by she remained hopeful of seeing him again. And the last meeting, the "passionate kissing," the Christmas gifts he gave her and then when he reality became cold and hard for her, his voice sounding like a jail door closing.

"If I had only known...." Like most people, the President is not taking responsibility for what he did to Monica. Had he shown restraint and maturity about the fact of his total inappropriateness, had he addressed honestly the issues of his marriage and his own needs, then Monica would still be the same mixed-up, needy, and anguished young woman aching for a life and a future, just like so many other innocent young people. But, no. He took her to a whole new level, changing her forever and ever into "that woman." Yes, Mr. President, if you had only known. If Monica had only known. If we had only known. Things might have been different.
See you next time?

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