by Stephen Tall on January 3, 2007
Richard Cohen of the Washington Post (via Daniel Finkelstein’s CommentCentral) celebrates the recent academic achievements of Monica Lewinsky – newly graduated from the LSE with a Masters in social psychology – and rightly takes to task those journalists still gleefully condemning her for her youthful indiscretions:
Her thesis was titled “In Search of the Impartial Juror: An Exploration of the Third Person Effect and Pre-Trial Publicity.” Her thesis might well have been called “In Search of the Impartial Journalist,” because she was immediately the subject of more poke-in-the-ribs stories about you know what. The Post, a better paper than it was that day, called her “dumb-but-smart.” It was more than could be said for that piece. …
Fortunately for me — and probably this applies to you as well — my outrageous deeds are known to only a few, and some of those people, after a lifetime of bad marriages and poor investments, have probably forgotten them. In Lewinsky’s case, her youthful indiscretion has been forgotten by no one. On the contrary, it’s recorded for the ages, in House and Senate proceedings, in the files of the creepy special prosecutor, in the databases of newspapers, in presidential histories and the musty joke files of second-rate comics.
One of the reasons I have never fallen for Bill Clinton’s much-touted charisma is the inescapable truth that he was perfectly happy to see Ms Lewinsky trashed as a fantasising floozy to save his own political skin. That cloud rather obscures for me the progressive idealism which seems still to dazzle others.
Where I partially part company with Mr Cohen is with this remark:
It would be nice, too, and fair, also, if Lewinsky were treated by the media as it would treat a man. What’s astounding is the level of sexism applied to her, as if the wave of the women’s movement broke over a new generation of journalists and not a drop fell on any of them. Where, pray tell, is the man who is remembered just for sex?
I think the Lib Dems’ very own human anagram, Lembit Öpik, might bestow a rueful smile in the direction of that question.