Yesterday three nice people (two guys and a gal) kicked the Bill-and-Monica saga around. I was one of the guys, but that’s as far as I’ll go with specifics. It started with a dispute about how much of a predator Bill Clinton might have been and how willing if not eager Ms. Lewinsky might have been.
Guy #1: Monica Lewinsky was a 22-year-old intern and he was the President of the United States. “It’s honestly hard to think of a dynamic that is more clearly an egregious abuse of power,” wrote lawyer Lindsey Barrett on Twitter.
American columnist Kristen Powers tweeted, “This actually shouldn’t be so hard. Hillary isn’t responsible for what her husband did, but she should be able to recognize it as an abuse of power.”
Last March Lewinsky wrote in Vanity Fair that she considered the affair “a gross abuse of power”, adding “he was my boss…he was the most powerful man on the planet”.
HE: That aside, are you actually contending that Bill Clinton harassed and bullied Monica Lewinsky into having an affair against her will? Don’t various accounts argue with this notion quite strenuously?
Gal #1: “She might have been ample and Rubenesque but Monica was hot. Clinton didn’t pray on some poor ignored chubby girl. She flirted outrageously with him and he flirted back. He could not resist her because she was HIS type. Beanie Feldstein is not THAT type. This casting choice alone tells you this dramatization is going to be a one-sided story of a sexual predator, which is 100% wrong. She was in her early 20s and very, very willing.”
HE: We all understand the power dynamic, but how does that work in the theoretical case of the widowed Michael Douglas in The American President? No hitting on any White House staffer, regardless of age or position? Only lobbyists like Annette Bening’s Sydney? Who exactly is a U.S. President allowed to show interest in, given the huge imbalance of power and the likelihood of being attacked down the road by #MeToo?
Otherwise, bullshit. 22 year-olds are not babes in the woods or poor little lambs. My rule is that you’re on you’re own and expected to live and cope in the adult world when you hit 20 or your junior year in college. And certainly by age 21. (Any older guy who makes a play for a sophomore or freshman or any woman in her late teens is definitely crossing the line.) But it all changes at 20 or 21, and certainly by age 22, or a year past graduation.
Clinton is/was an opportunistic hound, but so was Benjamin (“the father of France”) Franklin. So was Warren G. Harding. So were FDR, JFK, Gary Hart. Not every powerful politician with a yen for the ladies is necessarily a criminal predator. Or were they all Harvey Weinstein in your eyes?
Men and women tend to use and exploit each other in the quiet corridors of power. Lewinsky knew what she was doing. She saw an opportunity, turned on the alpha, scored and then expected to be compensated with some kind of job advancement. Which is an occasional benefit from affairs of this sort. Pay for play has been a common dynamic in business & government cultures for quite a while now. She became irate and conflicted and given to Linda Tripp confessions when she wasn’t shown what she calculated was her due.
Gal #1: “Power makes otherwise ordinary men sexy. It’s baked into our species. It lasts a lifetime. Bill Clinton had the kind of charisma where, it was said, when he was governor of Arkansas women lined up outside his office. He never had to beg anyone, coerce anyone. It was his special gift. Why do you think Hillary stayed with him all of those years?
“Monica tells a different story now because there is a lot of [support] for being a victim in our culture, especially a victim of any kind of sexual abuse of power. But the young Monica would never have called it that. She thought it was a consensual, mutual attraction with power as the lubricant. She would not have pursued him were he not the President of the United States. By contrast, he would have fucked any attractive 22 year-old who showed him attention, whether in the Oval Office or the backroom at McDonald’s.
The only part that was an abuse of power was when they moved her out of the White House because she was causing him problems. That is a legit complaint because what happened there threatened her career.
Women can’t have it both ways. We can’t claim that we’re as strong and capable as men but then cry victim when we make bad choices. Did Monica get her heart broken? Yes. Did she flirt with, get naked with and give a blowjob to a married man? Yes. Did she understand she was doing something wrong to Hillary? Yes. Did she do it anyway? Yes. Did he force her? No. He flirted back. He engaged in a passionate affair with her. Then he dumped her. Anyone who has ever fallen in love with a married man has been there. It sucks. But you can’t blame anyone but yourself.”
Guy #1: In Astra USA v. Bildman, 914 N.E.2d 36 (Mass. 2009), applying New York’s faithless servant doctrine, the court held that a company’s employee who had engaged in financial misdeeds and sexual harassment must “forfeit all of his salary and bonuses for the period of disloyalty.” The court held that this was the case even if the employee “otherwise performed valuable services,” and that the employee was not entitled to recover restitution for the value of those other services.
In other words, if Clinton were held to the legal standards in place in New York State, he would be removed from his position. I’ve always believed he should have been forced to resign, Gore would run in 2000 as incumbent and defeat W, Iraq doesn’t happen, etc.
HE: Forced to resign for lying about getting a blowjob?
Guy #1: Your friend never read any of the rape accusations against Bill Clinton. Clinton is as crooked as a dog’s hind-leg and always has been. [A guy who knew people] told me this about Clinton back in the 90s: “He’s the kind of guy who’d suck a dick to win a sack race.” Clinton Foundation raking in hundreds of millions while Hillary was Secretary of State? That’s so Trumpian. And now Biden: If Hunter Biden’s name was Jared Kushner you’d be at the castle gate with your pitch fork. And you’d be right.
HE: For some reason, rich and powerful guys are always offering their sons all kinds of magnanimous deals and benefits. The Biden thing smelled, of course, but they all do it.
Guy #1: Then Trump should be fine and everyone should shut up. It’s called a double standard. The truth, in my view, is that the Clintons and the Trumps are mirror images.
HE: That’s absurd — he’s a LYING BEAST and a FACT-AVERSE IDIOT. Fuck the sexual morality of it all — he’s a SOCIOPATHIC, FOAM-AT-THE-MOUTH, CON MAN & CRIME BOSS who’s not only ignoring but accelerating our journey toward ecological doom. The Clintons are the same? I DON’T THINK SO.