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Clinton and Lewinsky and Starr, oh my!
by Elizabeth Weaver Engel

He finally admitted that he did the deed. One word, Bill: "DUH!" We all knew you banged Monica months ago. As for the purportedly shocked White House staff members, all I have to say is that they're either saints in the Melanie Wilkes tradition or blithering idiots. Or what they're really shocked about is that they figured he'd keep denying it to his grave. I think William Raspberry (Washington Post columnist) had it right when he pointed out that Bill probably figured Monica would deny the affair too, so he would be safe. Bit of a miscalculation there. Bill's fundamental problem with women (aside from a demonstrated inability to keep his zipper up of course) is that he keeps breaking the cardinal rule of successful affairs for highly ranked politicians: only get involved with a woman who has as much to lose by the affair going public as you do.

So where does that leave us in regards to the major players? Let's start with Ms. Lewinsky. I actually feel sorry for her. Not so much because of the affair itself - I mean, from all evidence, she is no naif and she seemed pretty determined to make the affair happen by whatever means necessary long before she arrived at White House Intern Orientation - but because I really don't think she ever meant for it to get out. Sure, if I were a rather wild 21 year old and I'd managed to bag the Leader of the Free World, I'd want my bragging rights (and I might even keep the dress as a souvenir), but I don't think I'd want to be forced to answer detailed and highly embarrassing questions about the whole thing in front of God and the grand jury. And where does she go from here? Famous face, famous name, famous butt of crude jokes - she's only, what, 23? What's she going to do with the rest of her life? Imagine trying to have a normal existence after this. Prediction: porn star. What else is she going to do with "blow job" listed as one of the outstanding skills on her resume?

Linda Tripp. Yeah, sure, you're just like me. Only I don't secretly tape conversations with friends who trust me enough to tell me confidential and private details of their lives so I can turn around and blab them to the entire world. Give me a small break. I'm not that awful to people I can't stand, much less to people I claim to like. I hope they fry your ass in Maryland for illegal phone tapping. And that no woman is ever foolish enough to trust you with any personal information about anything ever again. Prediction: jail time (one can only hope), which will get her safely out of the civil service.

Kenneth Starr, Kenneth Starr, what has it all been for? It seems that our intrepid special prosecutor is about to send his findings to Congress. And from all reports, it will contain very little about anything other than the Lewinsky/Clinton mess. Filegate - a big zero. Fostergate - guess what? 10 gazillion law enforcement professionals were right; he DID kill himself. There's a shocker. Now if someone could just get nutty Dan Burton to quit shooting watermelons in his backyard on the weekends, we could all move on. Travelgate - little more than a case of poor human resources skills. The campaign finance thing? The whole system is rotten through and through in both parties. "Everybody's doing it," doesn't make it right, but it does at least make it comprehensible. Whitewater? What's Whitewater you say? Exactly. The very land deal Starr's purportedly been investigating, aside from turning up no evidence of illegal behavior on the part of the Clintons, also has absolutely nothing to do with anything that's occurred while they've been in the White House. And if we want to talk about the whole S&L thing, let's talk about the Bush brothers, governors and potential presidential candidates in 2000, for a minute, hmmmm? So in the end the peeping Tom with the power of the subpoena has produced nothing more than evidence of a sordid extramarital dalliance and the possibility (very likely unprovable) of obstruction of justice in attempting to cover it up. This is not Watergate we're talking about here people; it's lying about cheating on your wife. Prediction: well, Pepperdine of course, leading to a mid-life crisis in which Starr turns into Jeff Spicoli. It could happen.

What about Hillary? If she was my wife and I'd cheated on her, I'd lie like a rug too. I keep wondering when we're going to wake up to CNN reporting little pieces of Bill floating in the Reflecting Pool. You have to wonder what's going on in her head. I mean it's not as if this is a one-time deal. The man has a history. Why does she stay? I think I've probably heard just about every explanation there is: she's crazy about him, she's using the spotlight as a spring board for her own future plans, she's doing the feminine mystique thing of living through her husband, she's really a lesbian...but the only one that really makes any sense to me is the Chelsea factor. She stayed with him all these years for the sake of Chelsea, which seems to have been a good decision. This may be one case where staying together for the sake of the children actually turned out well. However, Bill's almost out of the White House (maybe sooner than he planned), Chelsea's in college, and Hillary's probably got another good 25 or 30 years ahead of her. Prediction: once they're no longer First Couple, Hillary will dump Bill so fast....well, really, really fast (I hate it when I get stuck for a good metaphor). Bonus Chelsea prediction: first female president in 2024. (Well, maybe not. She's seems far too well-balanced to do something as stupid as run for president.)

And, last but not least, Bill. You brought it on yourself baby. You coulda been a contendah. Remember Gary Hart? Remember what happens when you tell everyone you have nothing to hide and then turn around and get a little on the side? Do the words "Monkey Business" ring any bells? What IS this self-destructive urge all about? On the other hand, lots of presidents have fooled around and been perfectly good presidents despite it all. Bill has fooled around and been a perfectly good president despite it all. It's just no one else has fooled around right under the nose of a special prosecutor who's part of a political witch hunt. Talk about overweening hubris! This guy makes Julius Caesar look like St. John the Beloved. Clearly, the man lied about his relationship with Monica (I know - someone actually lied about an affair - I'm astounded, too). Maybe there was perjury (it's that whole slippery language deal), and maybe there was obstruction of justice (but Starr's never going to be able to prove it). But we're talking about an affair for God's sake, not about subverting the Constitution, like our other two famous -gates of the past 25 years.

Is Bill a sex addict? Well, if such a thing actually exists, yeah, I would say there's a real good chance he is. Maybe Starr never should have been allowed to pursue the Monica matter - hell, maybe a civil case against a sitting president shouldn't have been allowed to go forward in the first place (only one of several major judicial blunders I see here). But then again, maybe Bill shouldn't have been shtupping a 21 year old intern in the Oval Office, no matter how eager she was. That's what makes us grown ups.

But impeachment? Please! Over sex and lying about it after? You gotta be kidding me! The Europeans will laugh so hard wine will come out their noses if we try to impeach a president over an affair. Remember when Mitterand died? Wife Danielle with their two sons and mistress Anne Pingeot with their daughter Mazarinne all came, and no one batted an eye. We'd be bucking for first country to be laughed out of NATO. Meanwhile, here on the home front, very few people seem to want him to go. And those who do are largely the same group who've wanted him to go for whatever reason - any reason - since day one. Prediction: he will neither be impeached (politically foolish, as one hopes even the Congressional Republicans can see) nor resign (it's just not in him). He'll serve out his term, get a really high paying job as one of those mysteriously-titled Political Consultants (which he's gonna need with all those legal bills), buy a red convertible and find himself a 25 year old girlfriend with big hair and too much makeup. Eventually he'll write a torrid memoir that will be a mega-best-seller, and he'll retire to LA with the girlfriend.

So what's my point? Basically, I feel sorry for just about everyone: Monica who's now internationally famous for a sex act that's illegal in most US states, Linda who will probably never be able to buy another friend as long as she lives, Ken who will mostly be remembered for wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and years of his - and everybody else's - time to investigate an affair, Hillary who seems to have thrown away so much promise on such a dirty dog, Chelsea who's been forced to face all this when she's too old not to understand and too young to be able to let it all roll off her back, and most of all Bill, who's screwed up what could have been a fine legacy and will now probably best be remembered as the president brought down by going down.

And most of all I feel sorry for us: what a waste of time, money, energy, effort, and national attention. We just bombed Sudan and Afghanistan in retaliation for the Embassy bombings earlier this month. The peace process in Northern Ireland is coming apart at the seams. Russia is imploding. Saddam Hussein is still running around the Middle East thumbing his nose at us and the UN. The Albanian economy is still falling apart, and Kosovo is a mess. Slobodan Milosevic is still doing his darndest to be the Stalin of the '90's. Tobacco regulatory legislation and campaign finance reform bills both died in Congress in this past session. Teenage homicide is up, and areas of DC less than two miles from the Capitol are virtual war zones. We have bigger things to worry about than what Bill's doing with his penis these days. So let's get on with it already.

b i o
Elizabeth Weaver Engel, besides being a budding writer, is a stealth geek, a manager (but NOT the Pointy-Haired Boss) at a non-profit association, a distance runner, a "rabid" Lindy Hopper, and a connoisseur of fine B-grade movies. 

Currently a resident of Washington, DC, Elizabeth grew up outside of Philadelphia and holds a Master's degree in political theory from the University of Virginia.  She fell into working with computers by accident and has since been struggling to pull herself out.  Writing for Mindjack is one of the steps she's taking to do so.

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