Lewinsky emerges: "My boss took advantage of me"

Is it 2016 already? If Hillary Clinton decides to run again for President, we can expect that everything old will be new again, including the Clinton White House scandals. Perhaps that’s why Monica Lewinsky has chosen now to re-emerge on her own in an interview with Vanity Fair, in order to “find a give a purpose to her past.” She accuses all sides of taking advantage of her, but particularly her boss — although perhaps not in the way one would expect:

Maintaining that her affair with Clinton was one between two consenting adults, Lewinsky writes that it was the public humiliation she suffered in the wake of the scandal that permanently altered the direction of her life: “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. . . . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”

Lewinsky claims that the September 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi inspired her decision to come forward and assist others who have been bullied on the Internet. “[T]hanks to the Drudge Report,” she told Vanity Fair, “I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet.” She wants to dedicate her public efforts to end “online humiliation and harassment,” which she had to endure largely in silence over the last sixteen years.

However, it’s been almost four years since Clementi’s suicide, while the prospective Clinton candidacy is just months away. Lewinsky has to know that the media will find her no matter whether she’s talking to the press and going public or not. This looks like a very smart and understandable strategy to get ahead of that curve and become a public figure on her terms this time, in contrast to what happened to her when she was barely into her twenties. It’s not as though she’d have much of a choice once Hillary decided to run. If she can help to shine some light on those who are truly bullied and harassed online while she’s at it, all the better.

Still, it should have been unnecessary. Lewinsky notes that all sides played her as a pawn in the aftermath of the exposure of her affair with Bill Clinton, but even at that stage she was a distraction rather than the main issue. The affair came to light because Ken Starr suspected that the White House had been arranging monetary gains for people who refused to cooperate with the larger probe on Whitewater, and Lewinsky had arguably gotten the same treatment. It resulted in the uncovering of Clinton’s perjury in the civil court case, but that was a sideshow too in a probe that had been focused on official abuses of power, which ended up going nowhere.

Of all the Clinton scandals to resurrect in a Hillary candidacy, the Lewinsky affair will be the most tiresome and least relevant of all. Hillary Clinton was an aggrieved party in that scandal, not a player in it. The travel-office scandal might be worth a revisit, but let’s hope that Monica Lewinsky won’t have to engage this forward strategy as a defense for very long.