Monica: A Victim - Perhaps; Innocent - NOT.
Unlike millions of other people, I didn't watch the 20/20 interview with Monica Lewinsky in full the night it was aired. I saw a bit, and then caught the rest later, courtesy of my VCR. I, like over half the people who watched the interview, was left with a more negative impression of Monica than before the interview.
By Carolyn Gargaro
March 12, 1999
There really isn't much more I can say about her interview that hasn't already been said. I was amazed at her attitude, which seemed to indicate that this was all just some kind of game. She preened and posed, and seemed proud of her sexual escapades. The President was married? Eh, no biggie. She was sleeping with another man at the time and aborted his child? Oh well. And of course, the details she left out, well, we'd have to go out and buy her brand-spanking new book for that! Especially if we wanted to hear her tales of how she was victimized by the one and only, the picture of "evil" himself -- Kenneth Starr! Yes! Kenneth Starr, the man who conveniently gets blamed for everything.
But what about Kenneth Starr, who, according to Monica, intimidated her, embarrassed her, threatened her, even made her feel "raped" by the judicial system? She claimed that she was held for twelve hours without her lawyer on January 16, 1998, after she was approached by Starr's deputies at the Ritz Carlton. Shouldn't we all be outraged at this?
Let's first remember one thing- Monica has never met Kenneth Starr. Thus, even though everyone refers to what "Kenneth Starr" supposedly did to Monica, as if he was in the room with her, beating her down for hours, this is not possible. So then, perhaps it was those on Starr's staff who browbeat poor Monica, right? Wrong. In fact, Monica was treated much better than most people who were just caught on tape talking about how they committed perjury, as well as their attempts to suborn perjury. People forget that this was not about "catching" Monica in her affair with the President. It was about Monica being caught on tape, telling of her perjurious statements as well as basically telling Linda Tripp that she was to lie under oath about what she knew about Kathleen Wiley "or else." This is about Monica being caught committing a felony.
Her claim that she was "trapped for 12 hours" is laughable. First, why was she there for twelve hours? Monica was waiting for her mommy. That's right, Monica stated that she wanted to talk to her mother before speaking to a lawyer. Thus, she contacted her mother, who then proceeded to "speedily" travel to her daughter's side, from New York....by train. Starr's deputies agreed to wait for Monica's mother and proceeded to take her to lunch at the Pentagon City Mall, followed by a nice long shopping trip. My goodness, how did Monica ever survive this? As Ann Coulter states in her book, High Crimes and Misdemeanors, "This is not how people caught discussing their felonies on tape are typically treated. Earning her 'Presidential kneepads' had brought some perks."
Now, I am not denying that Monica may have felt trapped and desperate - I am sure she did. I would feel trapped and desperate too, if I had just been caught committing felonies on tape and I realized that my little house of cards was tumbling down around me. I'd be very scared if I was brought down from the clouds to the world of reality and realized that my games were actually felonies and that I could get in quite of a lot of trouble. Monica also was desperate to get word to the President because she knew he would be testifying the next day, and she needed to warn him about what was happening. So yes, Monica probably felt desperate, but it wasn't due to "abuse" by Kenneth Starr's deputies.
In addition, the charges that the people working for Kenneth Starr "abused" Monica have been investigated thoroughly. It was found that Monica's civil rights were not violated in any way, and that she did not receive unfair treatment. If she had been treated unfairly, I would be the first to condemn it, but all evidence points to the contrary.
But of course, Monica used her experience with Starr's deputies to show everyone what a victim she was. It's ironic that she still doesn't realize who truly victimized her -- and it wasn't Ken Starr's deputies. Of course, Monica isn't going to have anything good to say about the Office of the Independent Council (OIC), since it was the OIC which called her on her actions. She isn't upset that the people OIC treated her badly, because they didn't. She's upset because she had to betray her dear President -- a man whom she still seems to love.
So, if Monica wasn't a victim of Ken Starr's office, was she a victim at all? Yes, in a way, she was. Some may be wondering at this point if my apparent disdain for Monica's attitude and actions contradicts what I stated in the fall of 1998, when I explained why I thought Monica was a victim. (exerpts from my appearance on MSNBC where I debate this issue can be seen here!). I explained, after reading the Starr Report, that I believed that Monica was not the sole aggressor. She had been painted as someone who threw herself at the President, as he was painted as someone who was almost powerless to resist the temptation of this evil vixen. Well, the Starr Report clearly demonstrated that while Monica acted inappropriately, the President was also very much the aggressor. Monica didn't have to do very much to get the President to "give in" to her temptation. In fact, after their first encounter, the President approached her. Clinton was the one who kept suggesting that she hang out in the halls so he could meet with her. He was the one who called her. He was the one who broke off the relationship, and then came back to her. And, after telling her to meet him in the halls, inviting her into the Oval Office, calling her on the phone, he turns around and tries to paint her as a stalker. Monica was not a stalker, unless Clinton has a habit of inviting his stalkers to lurk in the hallways and calling his stalkers on the phone.
Once the relationship was broken off, why didn't the President adamantly tell her to get lost? He didn't. Now yes, Monica should have had a clue that the President was "blowing her off" (no pun intended) but she was very immature, and he had broken things off before and had come back, so why would she think differently now? Couldn't Clinton tell that this girl was extremely immature and infatuated? Didn't the President realize that being in a position of power fuels such infatuation? People always hail Clinton's intelligence, so the argument that he "didn't know she was immature and infatuated" just doesn't wash. It was painfully obvious, yet Clinton kept leading her on, and Monica was stupid enough to fall for it. Clinton wouldn't call her for months, and then she would see him at a function of some sort, and he would call. While Monica was extremely irresponsible, and yes, immoral, this doesn't negate Clinton's manipulation of her.
Often the term "victim" and "innocent" are used synonymously, as in "innocent victim." They shouldn't always be used together. One can be a victim and not be innocent. Monica being a victim and Monica acting completely irresponsibly are not two mutually exclusive things. Monica was in a way a victim, but this doesn't excuse her actions or negate the fact that she was, and still is, living in a fantasy land, believing that she was having a "love affair" with Clinton. Her flighty attitude during the 20/20 interview reaffirmed this, and actually made me realize just how out of touch with reality and devoid of the notion of responsibility she is. Monica wants to blame everyone else for her actions. Ironically, she blames those who were not at fault. The people at fault were Monica and Bill Clinton, but to hear Monica tell her story, she and Clinton were just two tragic lovers, oppressed by Linda Tripp and "evil" Kenneth Starr. I hope that one day Monica wakes up and realizes the people to blame for her situation are not the members of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" but herself and her precious Bill Clinton.
This article copyright © 1999 by Carolyn Gargaro and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.