The Clinton-Lewinsky Affair
There are a number of political figures who made lasting impressions on those of us who came of age in the 90s. As children and teenagers, we have an impeccable ability to overlook the more serious and complicated issues of politics in favor of those that entertain us. George Bush, Sr. hated broccoli. Al Gore invented the Internet. Bob Dole spoke of Bob Dole in the third person. And Bill Clinton, the saxophone-wielding leader of our generation’s country, got a blow job from a 22-year-old White House intern.
Overshadowing legitimate political controversy such as the Whitewater scandal, 1998’s Little Intern That Would
became a household name: Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky was a recent graduate of Lewis & Clark College who made the mistake of not only fellating our Commander in Chief, but confiding in coworker Linda Tripp. Tripp, a woman whose appearance and demeanor is reminiscent of a bespectacled toad, recorded her telephone conversations with Lewinsky and later handed those recordings over to investigators.
If you were alive in the 90s, you probably remember Lewinsky’s blue dress that was stained with the virility of our leader — you can also credit Linda Tripp with this icon of infidelity. Tripp was the woman who actively encouraged Lewinsky not to have the dress laundered so that she could retain proof of the affair. Ah, friendship in the workplace!
The allegations and subsequent denial was as much of a wet dream for comedians as the affair was for Clinton. Imagery of the "infamous blue dress" were splattered across media in all its forms. It didn’t help the cause when Clinton’s responses to the situation often seemed as if they were written as satire.
Clinton made a show of evading direct answers when questioned by the media or in legal scenarios. In his grand jury testimony, Clinton is famously remembered as saying, "It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is." He relied on semantics to explain his denial of having sexual relations with Lewinsky, because, as many men of great sexual prowess assume, actively participating in an extramarital sex act only includes performing oral sex, not receiving it. Of course, many males were inclined to agree — as long as they weren’t Republican.
Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, but was later acquitted of such charges after a three week senate trial. On August 17, 1998, he made a public admission that he had entertained a relationship with Lewinsky that was "not appropriate," though one can assume that his admission depended on what the meaning of "not" was not.
Lewinsky used her fame to launch her own brand of designer handbags, become a spokesperson for Jenny Craig (though she was dropped from the campaign a third of the way through), and secure a hosting role on a reality dating program on the Fox network. Because of ventures like these, Lewinsky was often the target of criticism for capitalizing on her ill-begotten fame. As she tells it, however, she was simply struggling to survive while paying off exorbitant legal fees.
Opinions of Lewinsky are still heavily divided among those of us who lived out the scandal through our television sets. That said, one thing is undeniable: this woman and her tainted blue dress shaped our view of the nation’s president in ways we never expected.