The Lewinsky Affair
How I learned to stop worrying and love presidential infidelity. Special commentary by Bitch editor Lisa Jervis.
It's not often that I can be called an apologist for President Clinton. Then again, it's not often that a sitting president gets accused of having an affair with a 22-year-old intern. However, because of the premise of this entire situationthat because of the ages and marital status of the participants consensual sex acts are somehow the business of the American peopleI am stuck defending Bill. Why?
Stay with me here: We all know that the real problem, legally, is not the supposed affair but the alleged lying and subornation of perjury. And those are serious charges. But that lying never would have taken place had the president thought that he would not suffer tremendous political damage from public revelation of the affair. Of course, had he actually believed he could admit to his screwing around and get away without censure from the electorate, he would have been, to put it bluntly, totally and completely deluded. Of course he would sufferis sufferingimmense political damage. But why? Because the American people are shocked and disgusted that he would cheat on his wife with a young, naive, impressionable intern. And why is that? Because the American people have an inadequate appreciation for consent in a wide variety of relationships. They simply cannot believe that (1) Bill's behavior is not an unforgivable betrayal of Hillary and (2) Monica Lewinsky was not somehow taken advantage of in her liaison with the prez. (The New York Times commented that the scenario could send "chills down the spine of many American parents" whose children have worked as interns.) Puh-leeze.