When Monica Lewinsky broke her silence recently about her affair with President Bill Clinton, it was pretty much assumed she did it because Hillary Clinton is going to be running for President. There has already been talk in GOP circles about the reviving the Lewinsky scandal, leveling that at the Hillary camp, and convincing folks that Hillary should not be elected because Bill Clinton should not be allowed anywhere near White House interns again.
So Monica came out and told her story. She insists that there was not coercion or non-consent in the events. She says she was taken advantage of, but only after the fact. She was an adult. And she feels just as used by the opponents of Clinton and by the media as anyone else.
The effect of Lewinsky’s Vanity Fair piece could very well be to head off the use of that chapter in the Clinton history against Hillary. To many people, it is irrelevant. If anything, Hillary was seen as strong and capable in how she handled the entire mess back then.
With Lewinsky’s comments out there preempting the use of her as a talking point, Hillary is much freer to run a campaign based on today’s issues.
And Lynne Cheney thinks that is all just too convenient to be a coincidence.
“I really wonder if this isn’t an effort on the Clintons’ part to get that story out of the way,” Lynne Cheney said on Fox News. “Would Vanity Fair publish anything about Monica Lewinsky that Hillary Clinton didn’t want in Vanity Fair?”
Let’s presume for a moment that the wife of Dick Cheney is right. Let’s say that Hillary Clinton wanted this story out there. The question then becomes: Why?
On the surface, the “preemption” idea seems to hold water. Get ahead of the story and defang it. Take away your opponents ammunition by laying it out there and addressing it.
A candidate has to be very careful what she addresses personally. Whatever you choose to address gets seen as carrying some sort of credence. So candidates use surrogates to make comments they should not be seen stooping to make.
This is especially true since this candidate has not even announced her candidacy yet, and is actually being coy about it.
So, she let’s Lewinsky make her comments. Maybe someone even calls Vanity Fair and suggests the piece. Vanity Fair approaches Lewinsky, who is having trouble getting and keeping a job, thanks to her last name. Lewinsky jumps at the chance to make a buck. A decent agent guides her in terms of what not to say in such an article. And, voila, Hillary Cinton gets her preemptive story, without having to speak to it herself.
But once a story like this is on the wind, it is very hard to control. What if the press starts talking about the meandering trail of events that led up to the Lewinsky scandal: Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster, Gennifer Flowers, and all the other stuff Rush Limbaugh built a career on? Couldn’t all that backfire?
Would Hillary take that chance?
Or what if Hillary got the Monica story out there because she knew that Americans would laugh it off. It’s had time to go from being a scandal, to a punchline, to a textbook example in hindsight of the ridiculousness of governmental overreach. Back when the Monica story was on every channel, we were all pretty comfortable. Since then we’ve lost homes, been mired in two wars, been attacked within our borders, and become swamped in reality TV that is regularly far worse than anything the Starr Report had to reveal.
Anyone who tries to seize upon the Monica story as useful in fighting off Hillary will be seen as a joke.
But would Hillary make such a maneuver, counting on Americans to make sense and see things her way? The same Americans who watch all that reality TV?
Not likely. Does Hillary benefit? Sure, but only as long as the story remains controlled.
Lynne Cheney should know that conspiracies are never that neat. Her husband has been accused of being involved in many, very few of which even sound plausible to any but the most paranoid.
Image via Wikimedia Commons