Victor Bloom MD
Millions of Americans watched the two-hour interview of Monical Lewinsky by Barbara Walters. Despite indications that the citizens had had enough, and wanted to move on with the country's business, they wanted to know the real Monica Lewinsky, not just the media hype and endless speculation. The affair was of great interest to the country, but perhaps more as entertainment than anything of import.
Americans were divided as to whether the affair deserved serious attention and whether it was really private, consensual and trivial. It has to be admitted that the media profited from the endless discussions, which often became emotional. Because the people's rapt involvement in the scandal was durable and intense, the media had fertile ground for exploiting the situation for the profits involved. The day after the TV interview, Monica's book is released by the publisher. This chronology coulìd make Monica into a very rich girl.
But she says her life is ruined. She comes across as very gutsy, warm, open, lively and a sensuous, fun-loving young woman, but one cannot help but wonder how much she has been coached to act a part. What we were seeing was an admixture of genuineness, openness and vulnerability, and a canny, clever, ambitious, narcissistic young woman. The fact is, she is young and has a lot to learn. It is also true that she is very smart and has already learned a lot, almost more than a woman her age can bear. But she comes up smiling and well, almost triumphant.
We can say she should have known better (than to get sexually involved with the president), but since she didn't, she has made her bed and has to lie in it. But not for long. She is already involved with someone else and claims to have fallen out of love with Bill, since he not only lied about their relationship«, but attempted to trash her. We can believe she really felt terrible. But how deep do those 'feelings' go? We can only wonder and speculate.
As the facts about Starr's tactics came out, we must realize that there was abuse of power coming from the independent counsel, as well as the president. Starr should have gone to his professorship at Pepperdine. Bill should have kept his zipper zipped. Monica should should not have lifted her skirt or unbuttoned her blouse.
The public is entranced with is other peoples flaws. It is reassuring to know that we are not the only ones who are not perfect. We sin, we repent, we are forgiven, it is forgotten, life goes on.
The human flaws in Shakespeare's plays end in tragedy, often with multiple deaths in a bloodbath. Here the wounds are emotional and historical. We are dealing with character, reputation and legacy. Clinton's character has been exposed as a cocky womanizer from his youth to the present.Û He is so bright and articulate, and yet...
Monica comes through like a groupie who had a crush and a Cinderella fantasy. Clinton implied that after his term was over... maybe. This is a tactic of predatory, middle-aged males to gullible young women. Sometimes the men actually carry through on their promise and they dump the wife and mother of their children. Such a man now has a trophy wife to show off and keep him young.
Monica was too young to realize what she was dealing with. As Barbara Walters aptly put it, "you played with fire and you got burned."
Monica is typical of a prevalent attitude of young adults today, the impulse to take risks and have fun. She admitted sharing her 'secrets' with five or so girlfriends and they had a good time laughing about the intimate details of the peccadillo. Bill wasn't supposed to know. He trusted her to keep their secret.
This phenomenon could have happened in a primitive village, with one of the nubile adolescents having an affair with the tribal chief. Something about the phenomenon is timeless and universal. Someone out there is having fun, being wild and reckless, doing forbidden things. How awful! How wonderful! In our (Western) culture, many get their kicks vicariously. In other cultures, there is much less interest or judgment of other people's sexual activity.
Monica was so good at formulating her three pages of 'talking-points' that Barbara Walters suggested she was 'lawyerly' and would do well in law school. Maybe someday Monica Lewinsky will be a serious and effective attorney. One can only wonder whether in the future she will emerge as a responsible and effective professional, or wind up as a centerfold of Playboy magazine.
What she said, and this came across as believable, is that she wanted to find the right guy and marry him and have a family. She seems to have the talent, the guts and the will to carry it off. There is Monica Lewinsky, the icon, and Monica Lewinsky, the person. All in all, she came off relatively well, considering.
Dr. Bloom is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Wayne State University School of Medicine. He is a member of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and he welcomes comments and questions at his e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org and visitors to his website: victorbloom.com