The real October Surprise will Monica Lewinsky speak out on the Clintons?
By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
The 2016 campaign has descended into the gutter, policy positions rarely matter, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s political scandals are a blip and all that seems to concern the news media or the voters are the sexual exploits or lewd remarks of Republican nominee Donald Trump versus Former President Bill Clinton’s sex scandals. The one woman at the center of the debate eighteen years later, Monica Lewinsky has remained quiet on the whole campaign, could her insights and opinion, be the October Surprise that could resolve who is personally worse, Bill Clinton or Trump?
Trump aiming to hit Clinton low started the game, throughout the campaign Trump has repeatedly brought up Bill Clinton’s sex scandals. Trump went as far as to bring three of Clinton’s victims, Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey to the pre-debate press conference and then they were his guests at the debate. Additionally, Kathy Shelton was in attendance, Shelton was raped in 1975 when she was 12, Hillary Clinton defended the 41-year-old man accused of raping her and ensured he received convicted of lesser charges with jail time of less than a year. Trump has not only attacked Bill Clinton’s sex scandals but Hillary’s complicit behavior, blaming, threatening and ripping apart the reputations of the women involved all with the aim of protecting her and her husband’s political futures.
Bringing up the Clinton scandals came back to haunt Trump as a 2005 tape emerged with Trump bragging about kissing and grabbing women because he can be as a celebrity and talked about his failed attempt for an affair with a married TV host. Trump apologized, called it “locker room talk” and denied acting on it during the second presidential debate. After that denial, ten women have come forward claiming that between 1980 and 2007 Trump kissed, fondled or grabbed them without their permission.
While all of Clinton’s former accusers have come out against Hillary’s campaign calling her an enabler, the only one person refuses to be brought into the fray, Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky was at the center of Clinton’s scandal in 1998 while he was president. The affair with the former White House is the reason he perjured himself leading to him being only the second president impeached.
Lewinsky stayed out of the public eye for years, reemerging in May 2014 with an article inVanity Fair entitled “Shame and Survival” about the ordeal she went through during the scandal and being at the center of the media storm and their mocking. Lewinsky wrote, “Anybody who has gone through any kind of trauma knows it doesn’t just go away with a snap of the fingers. It lives as an echo in your life. But over time the echo becomes softer and softer.” She then became an anti-cyber bullying advocate remaining in the public eye, but much to the chagrin of the press refusing to comment on the election or her position on Clinton’s run.
The Clinton and Trump camps are fighting whose sex scandals are worse. The Democrats who long defended Clinton’s actions as president, saying the personal actions should not matter to his duties as president are contradicting themselves when it comes to Trump’s actions. Both behaviors are reprehensible whether founded or not, the difference remains Clinton’s actions were as president. Clinton abused his powers with a star struck White House intern then perjured himself in a deposition, lied to the nation and then ended up impeached all while Democrats, some Republicans and the public primarily gave him a free pass with high approval ratings.
The issue has become why is good for one but not the other, when the actions mostly come under the same umbrella, inappropriate and abusive. Recently Vice President Joe Biden spoke to NBC and said, “I can’t make any excuse for Bill Clinton’s conduct. And I wouldn’t attempt to make excuses for his conduct. But he paid a price. He was impeached. And he expressed his deep sorrow and acknowledged what he did.”
Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama ravaged Trump‘s behavior in a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. The First Lady said Trump’s comments have “shaken me to my core in a way I couldn’t have predicted.” Mrs. Obama continued, “This is not normal, this is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful, it is intolerable. We simply cannot endure this or expose our children to this any longer. Now is the time for us all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.”
Trump’s Vice Presidential running mate Mike Pence is certain that Clinton‘s actions are worse than anything Trump had said or is accused of because they happened when Clinton was president. In an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Indiana Gov. Pence noted, “Bill Clinton didn’t just talk about doing things, he did them. It took a while to find all that out. He was under oath in 1998 and he finally came clean on having taken advantage of a 23-year-old intern at the White House named Monica Lewinsky, in the most appalling behavior by an American president in the history of this country.”
Despite being at the center of the storm, yet again with a presidential election in the balance, Lewinsky is staying out of the debate. On Friday, Oct. 14, a photographer stopped her at Los Angeles International Airport at 5:30 A.M. asking her if “she thought Trump was ‘fit to be president‘.” Lewinsky avoided the question, responding, “It’s 5.30 in the morning, you should be asleep. You should not be at the airport bothering people with your camera.” She later tweeted, “Nothing like a pap at LAX somehow spotting u in seconds… when ur w/o a stitch of make up @ 5.30 AM. gee, thx @Delta!”
Is Lewinsky staying out of the race because she wants to, and might still have a soft spot for the former president or like Trump accuses the Clinton’s made sure she kept her mouth shut with a legal agreement or threat? Public figures like to stifle free speech if they can especially where personal matters are concerned that might destroy their careers no matter how it affects who they stifle.
What is certain is her best friend actor Alan Cumming is supporting Clinton and Lewinsky has called herself a “conscientious Democrat.” Throughout the scandal, Hillary Clinton made her opinion of Lewinsky known, but Lewinsky never focused on the then First Lady. The clearest view Lewinsky has of Hillary comes from her Vanity Fair article.
Lewinsky spoke out about then to recent reports that Clinton called Lewinsky a “narcissistic loony toon,” to her friend Dian Blair. Lewinsky responded, “Yes, I get it. Hillary Clinton wanted it on record that she was lashing out at her husband’s mistress. She may have faulted her husband for being inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the Woman — not only me but herself — troubling.”
In the article, Lewinsky seems to defend Hillary, writing, “If that’s the worst thing she said, I should be so lucky. Mrs. Clinton, I read, had supposedly confided to Blair that, in part, she blamed herself for her husband’s affair (by being emotionally neglectful) and seemed to forgive him. Although she regarded Bill as having engaged in ‘gross inappropriate behavior,’ the affair was, nonetheless, ‘consensual (was not a power relationship).’”
Lewinsky also defended Bill behavior with her, “My boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship.” However, Lewinsky noted the spiral in her life came from the Clintons’ actions, “Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.” The abuse and the media’s scrutiny became so bad that she recounts, “I, too, was suicidal, so much that her mother was worried and scared Lewinsky “would be literally humiliated to death.”
If Lewinsky would emerge in the debate now and give her opinion, it might sway opinion, as to whose behavior with women, is worse Bill Clinton or Trump. Lewinsky’s comments or even previously unrevealed insights into both Bill and Hillary Clinton could even more detrimental to Clinton’s campaign than the political scandals that have dogged but not fazed her.
Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.