Monica Lewinski: The price of shame.

Truth is, I have never understood the amount of narcissism and libido that let Bill Clinton ruin the lives of three people and bitterly disappoint an entire country, if not the world, for a few moments of fleeting pleasure. If he was unsatisfied in his marriage, so were millions of other men, but they didn’t all act on it.

Around the time this was happening to Monica Lewinski and the Clintons, I was going through my own marital crisis in New Hampshire. And although I was a college teacher and surrounded by young, attractive and often flirtatious coeds, I let my fantasies remain just that — fantasies. The last thing I wanted was the complication, deceit, and immorality involved in making a promise to my wife and failing to keep it.

In our narrative about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, the spotlight was aways on Bill and Monica — he was the preying older man of power and charm, and she was the helpless, much-too-young, confused, “bimbo.” As for Hillary, I blamed her for not doing a better job at her own wifely duties, or at least helping him find a  more discrete, anonymous object of desire.

In in retrospect, I sense that we’ve all gotten it all wrong — rushing to judgment, assuming behaviors and intentions that did not exist. And while only the truly heartless never felt a moment of sadness and concern for that young intern, Monica, most of us did feel sad and concerned.

Maybe we don’t have to feel so concerned anymore. In her speech to TED, it is clear that if she has not entirely recovered, she is well on her way to putting her Clinton encounters into perspective and learning something valuable in the process.

I can only wish her much luck and a life filled with the good choices she has always wanted for herself and her family.


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