Head Over Heels

Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky; drawing by David Levine

The shabby history of the United States in the last year can be laid at the door of three unsavory citizens. President Clinton: shallow, reckless, a blushing trimmer; Monica Lewinsky, aggressive, rouge-lipped exhibitionist; Judge Kenneth Starr, pale, obsessive Pharisee. There was collusion among back-country elected ayatollahs stoning the adulterers in the public square while intoning the satanic verses of the Constitution. And washed up on the banks of the Potomac, the burrowing otters, Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg.

Humiliation, resonant, aching word, near to the sacred, fell at its worst upon the nation as a whole, as a conception, a nation among nations, enlightened despite the wish of some for a premillennial accounting in the wings. Humiliation has at the first dawn fled from Monica Lewinsky; with Judge Starr, many a stumbling perceived, with many to catch his arm before a fall; Clinton, the president, not a sports announcer or a political “adviser” set up for exposure in a Washington hotel, for him the awful moment, or moments, of surrender; the bad dream, to follow him to the grave, of being nude in the streets. Or to lower the tone in an obscurely derived current idiom: He’s toast.

Move on, move on, friends and enemies say. Put the nation in a Santini Van, wrap its underwear in brown paper, and, horn honking, move on. That’s the word for a country of road hogs, for the proper business of the state, for that woman, Miss Lewinsky, for Judge Starr, who seems to threaten to stand in place, still tapping away.

The sad, sad sin of location. As the reigning Head of State, a celebrity with his Marine band and honor guard, he has certain restrictions based upon his high, none higher, recognition factor. So it cannot be a Rooms-by-the-Day Motel, but the Oval Office of the White House, its bathroom or some private corner, whatever, wherever. The President has his oddities of practice coming forth to us from his partner and other deponents going back through the years. Looking over his Police Gazette profile, starting in Arkansas, we can say he is having bad luck due to the Zeitgeist, the historical moment for girls, or women. Previously they were somewhat restrained by self-protection, by not wanting mother, family, children, or job supervisor to know what was going on in the back seat of the car, in the after-hours office. Now there is the book, the lawsuit, the settlement, the chance to join the others on file which gives a jog to old unhealthy memories.

We are told that Monica Lewinsky early on, after her belief that the President had in a crowd cast lustful eye-beams her way, went home to read Gennifer Flowers’s memoir called Sleeping with the President.1 Monica’s bleak “sensual” engagement to come will in no way match Miss Flowers’s hot twelve-year affair, albeit off and on, with the Attorney…

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