You have to feel sorry for Monica Lewinsky. At least a little.
Years after her globally-reported adulterous affair with the then-most powerful man in the world, Bill Clinton, she is the one who has struggled to get her life back on track, not the guy who #MeToo’d her.
She was 22; he, 49. And for the most part, Lewinsky, through the decades, has been alternately mocked, scorned, parodied, poked fun of, abandoned and tossed on the trash heap of the Scarlett Letter crowd — while Team Clinton all along has done pretty well.
Bill’s considered a respectable character, by leftist standards, anyway, and rakes in gobs of cash for speaking gigs; wife and enabler Hillary managed a pretty high-profile political career, one that some say is far from over; daughter Chelsea has made massive inroads in both business and politics, trading her celebrity name for lucrative opportunities.
But Lewinsky, as she just revealed, fought suicide.
Federal investigators swarmed, the Clintons lied and deceived and send out their attack dogs and ran for cover — and Lewinsky, barely out of her teens, fought suicide.
“I felt so much guilt and I was terrified,” she recalled, Mediaite reported, citing the soon-to-be-released “The Clinton Affair” A&E show special.
“There was this point for me somewhere in the first several hours where I would be hysterically crying and then I would just shut down,” Lewinsky went on. “In the shut-down period, I remember looking out the window and thinking that the only way to fix this was to kill myself — was to jump out the window.”
What prevented her?
The same thing that prevents a lot of people from doing the deed — the awareness of the emotional devastation the act would inflict upon loved ones.
“I was just mortified and afraid of what this was going to do to my family,” she said.
Lewinsky also said she was “still in love with Bill at the time, so I felt really responsible” — a remark that no doubt raises the eyebrows of the many who thought she brought all these troubles upon herself by engaging in an adulterous affair, and that her professions of love were silly schoolgirl delusions.
And that’s true; Lewinsky was guilty of adultery. Lewinsky did bring the fire and brimstone upon her own head with choices she and she alone was responsible for; nobody put a gun to her head and forced her into an affair. And Lewinsky did seem, at the time, anyway, an entirely unsympathetic character, devoid of conscience, arrogant of heart, unapologetic of behavior, deserving of national derision.
But that was 1995. That was the period between 1995 and 1997. That was the investigative years, beginning in 1998.
This is 2018, and the fact that she contemplated suicide while Team Clinton conspired to politically survive and even gain shows a gross imbalance.
Clinton, as president, as the 49-year-old adult, ought to have been the one who suffered most here.
It’s time for Lewinsky to get the cultural and societal pardon she’s earned — and yes, that goes from the conservative camps who loved to hate her, as well.
After all, if Bill Clinton can emerge with his marriage intact, and Hillary Clinton can emerge with a State Department secretarial slot and a presidential run under her belt — and possibly another White House campaign in the works — surely Lewinsky can gain some societal respect.
Twenty-plus years is long enough to be the butt of national scorn and mocking. The fact that she considered suicide at the tender age of 22 — at the same time the president was busy skating and skirting justice — just seems very, very sad and very, very unfair. And very, very par for the course for the Clintons. Fact is, the Clintons just leave trails of devastations wherever they go.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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