(Trends Wide) — The premiere of the series “American Crime Story: Impeachment” this Tuesday night has put front and center the scandal of a president who carries out an affair with a White House employee in his twenties.
Monica Lewinsky, the woman at the center of the scandal, has emerged in the decades since her affair with Bill Clinton as a powerful advocate against bullying and the voice of someone who has been consumed by the scandal machine and made it out on the other side. .
In an interview earlier this week related to the show’s premiere on FX, Lewinsky said something important and thought-provoking (at least for me).
NBC’s Savannah Guthrie asked Lewinsky if Clinton “owed her an apology after all these years.”
“He should want to apologize in the same way that I want to apologize for any opportunities he has with people my actions have hurt,” Lewinsky responded.
Clinton has never outright apologized to Lewinsky for his behavior to someone who was not only much, much younger than him, but also someone who worked for him.
In a 2020 Hulu documentary focusing on his wife, Bill Clinton offered an unusual comment about his relationship with Lewinsky.
“I feel terrible about the fact that Monica Lewinsky’s life was defined by that, I think unfairly,” the former president said. “Over the years, I saw her trying to get back to a normal life. But you have to decide how to define normal.”
Which, in case you missed it, is not “sorry.”
Now there are those – you know who – will notice that the last occupant of the White House was accused of behavior with women much more serious than a consensual relationship between Clinton and Lewinsky.
And, yes, the game of what happens always works. That is why it is so popular.
But Lewinsky’s experience – and his comments to Guthrie – speak, for me, of a larger question: What do we all owe him?
The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal
In 1998, when the Starr report came out, which detailed the relationship between a president and an intern, I read it with glee, not really thinking about the fact that Lewinsky was just a twenty-something like me who, overnight, fell apart. she had become famous for all the wrong reasons.
The mid-forties — don’t ask where I land on that spectrum — I see everything differently. I never want my life, or the lives of my children, to be defined by the worst decisions we make at 23.
That’s what happened to Lewinsky. And I, for one, regret the small part I played in that.
The point: Lewinsky isn’t demanding an apology after all these years. But that doesn’t mean that Bill Clinton doesn’t owe him one.