Republicans Trying to Figure Out How to Talk About Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky

When Vanity Fair announced Tuesday that it would publish a 4,300-word, score-settling essay by Monica Lewinsky revisiting her affair with President Bill Clinton, some Republicans saw an opportunity — and others saw a trap.

The article will mark the first time in years that Lewinsky has publicly addressed the sex scandal that led to Clinton’s impeachment, and in a teaser released by the magazine, she accuses the administration, among others, of victimizing her in pursuit of power. “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship,” she writes. “Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.”

To a certain contingent of combative conservatives, Lewinsky’s reemergence represents an irresistible temptation — a chance to revisit the most embarrassing episode of the Clinton presidency, to recast Bill as a sexual predator whose past behavior undermines his party’s “war on women” rhetoric, and to convince a new generation of voters ahead of the 2016 election that Hillary’s true, power-hungry nature was exposed during the affair’s fallout. They also believe — or at least, hope — that this is unlikely to be the last we hear from Lewinsky in the coming years.

Keith Appell, a Republican operative who worked with Swiftboat Veterans for Truth and more recently helped elect Florida Gov. Rick Scott, said Republicans looking to hobble Hillary Clinton’s prospective presidential candidacy should show how she took part in the humiliation of a young intern in order to preserve political power for herself and her husband.

“This will always be a black mark on the Clinton presidency, which, from the beginning, was always both of them,” Appell said. “That was made clear from day one. So, Hillary’s appearance on the Today show, when she conjured up a vast right-wing conspiracy out to get the two of them, is a big part of this. Either she was delusional, or she was cynically trying to deflect and attack based on years of enabling him.”

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BuzzFeed Politics

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