There are certain people who will probably never be able to outrun the reputation they have gotten in this celebrity-crazed society. Whether deserved or not, and no matter what came before or after the defining moment that attached itself to them, some names have a shadow over them that may never shake.
Yoko Ono is unfairly characterized as having "broken up the Beatles." O.J. Simpson and George Zimmerman killed people. Some people do that and go on to have decent lives. Not those guys. Richard Nixon's name will be forever associated with Watergate, not with starting the E.P.A.
Then there's Monica Lewinsky.
Lewinsky relates an incident in a Vanity Fair piece that highlights this conundrum.
"It was early 2001. I was sitting on the stage of New York’s Cooper Union in the middle of taping a Q&A for an HBO documentary. I was the subject. And I was thunderstruck."
A "smirking guy" had just stood to have his turn asking Lewinsky a question. He came out firing.
"'How does it feel to be America’s premier blow-job queen?'”
And there you have it. Years of trying to repair her image, and she was no further than this in the eyes of some.
Monica Lewinsky has since written books and feature articles, appeared on talk shows, and eventually just disappeared for a long while, all to try to rid her name of the stigma of her affair with President Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton, on the other hand, is perhaps the most sought-after speaker in America. He is a leader in global problem-solving and philanthropy. There is the occasional "Monica" joke, but most people are past it, as far as Clinton is concerned.
Monica doesn't have that kind of luck.
So how might a damaged brand like "Monica Lewinsky" help Hillary Clinton in her presumptive campaign to be the next president of the United States?
By simply stepping back onto the street. Writing her Vanity Fair article is one good way. Giving an occasional interview is another. You see, Hillary Clinton came out of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal with her head held high. She went on to be a Senator, then Secretary of State. The scandal actually helped her, because people saw her as bearing up under incredible circumstances, holding her embarrassment and still working, choosing to forgive.
The interesting caveat to this is that Hillary Clinton must not be seen as being mean to Lewinsky now. Some see Lewinsky as having gone through enough.
David Letterman has expressed regret about how much humiliation was visited upon Lewinsky.
“I started to feel bad, because myself, and other people with shows like this, made relentless jokes about the poor woman. And she was a kid! I feel bad about my role in pushing the humiliation to the point of suffocation.” Letterman said.
“With some perspective, you realize this is a sad human situation,” Letterman added.
If Hillary brings Lewinsky up, or responds to a question about her with the old "narcissistic loony-tune" verbiage that she has used in the past, it could blow up in her face.
But Lewinsky also evaporates talking points that the GOP is hoping to use against Hillary. Senator Rand Paul, whom some hope will eventually run against Hillary, positioned himself with an interesting ploy on Meet the Press.
Well, you know, I mean the Democrats one of their big issues is they have concocted and says Republicans are committing a war on women. One of the workplace laws and rules that I think are good is that bosses shouldn’t prey on young interns in their office, and I think really the media seems to have given President Clinton a pass on this.
He took advantage of a girl that was twenty years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that, and that is predatory behavior, and should be something we shouldn’t want to associate with people who would take advantage of a young girl in his office. This isn’t having an affair. I mean this isn’t me saying he’s had an affair we shouldn’t talk to him. Someone who takes advantage of a young girl in their office. I mean really? And then they have the gall to stand up and say Republicans are having a war on women.
However, Lewinsky has stepped forward to deflect that blow. While expressing deep regret for what happened, she was very specific about the nature of the relationship.
"At the time—at least from my point of view—it was an authentic connection," she said. "With emotional intimacy, frequent visits, plans made, phone calls and gifts exchanged." She is very clear that this was “consensual (was not a power relationship).”
It is highly unlikely that you will ever see Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in the same room together, not in this lifetime. But the scandal itself can be made to serve Hillary Clinton as candidate. Whether Monica Lewinsky is ever allowed to be someone other than her brand, remains to be seen.
Image via YouTube