“With every marital indiscretion that finds its way into the public sphere,” writes Monica Lewinsky in the June issue of Vanity Fair, “It always seems like the woman conveniently takes the fall.” That’s mostly, but not entirely, true, as Eliot Spitzer, Herman Cain, or John Ensign can attest. The record shows that most male politicians caught in a marital indiscretion pay a heavy price, too.
Lewinsky has emerged in public after a ten year silence to try and create a new identity for herself. But is that possible? Will she ever be remembered for more than the biggest political sex scandal in American history? That’s a daunting challenge.
It’s hard to imagine that Rielle Hunter, even after her public apology for her affair with John Edwards, will be remembered for something other than her behavior during the 2008 campaign and the things she wrote about the Edwards family in her book What Really Happened.
And it’s hard to imagine that voters will ever think of former Representative Chris Lee as anything other than the “Craigslist Congressman.” Or incumbent Louisiana Representative Vance McAllister as anything other than the “Kissing Congressman.”
In her article, Lewinsky also writes that “No one can escape the unforgiving gaze of the Internet, where gossip, half-truths, and lies take root and fester.” That’s true of Lee and McAllister, but Edwards’ relationship with Hunter was uncovered by old-fashioned tabloid reporting by the National Enquirer. And Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky became public only because of really old-fashioned tape recording of telephone conversations.
But Lewinsky is correct that, once caught in a political sex scandal, it’s difficult to redefine yourself as being more than who you were during the scandal. According to her, redefining is the reason why she wrote the article. “I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past. It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress.”
Of course, no one can predict how Lewinsky will be remembered. But if one politician and one potential partner can learn from her story, then Monica Lewinsky’s done a service for the public.
Photo Source: The Political Insider