Bill Clinton still gets it wrong on Monica Lewinsky and #MeToo

Bill Clinton -- 20 years on from an affair with a White House intern that led to his impeachment by the House -- said...

Posted: Jun 4, 2018 4:27 PM
Updated: Jun 4, 2018 4:27 PM

Bill Clinton -- 20 years on from an affair with a White House intern that led to his impeachment by the House -- said Monday that he didn't owe Monica Lewinsky an apology.

"No, I do not," the former president responded to a question from NBC's Craig Melvin about whether he believed he should personally apologize to Lewinsky. "I have never talked to her. But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That's very different. The apology was public."

Which is a remarkable -- and remarkably bad -- quote.

Clinton is right that he offered a broad public apology for his affair with Lewinsky -- at the 1998 National Prayer Breakfast. Here's the key part of that speech:

"I don't think there's a fancy way to say that I have sinned. It is important to me that everyone who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine -- first and most important, my family, my friends, my staff, my Cabinet, Monica Lewinsky and her family, and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness."

Which is an apology. No question.

But apologizing in a public setting -- with the obvious dual intent of clearing the decks politically -- isn't the same thing as reaching out to Lewinsky personally to say sorry.

Why should he, some people have asked. It takes two to tango. (Someone on my Twitter feed used that exact phrase.) If Lewinsky didn't want to get involved with the president, she didn't have to.

That thinking represents a wrong-headed view that has been exposed by the #MeToo movement: That the massive power gap between the President of the United States and a 20-something-year-old White House intern is so massive as to make the idea of "it takes two to tango" laughable.

Lewinsky herself wrote about that in a piece earlier this year for Vanity Fair:

Just four years ago, in an essay for this magazine, I wrote the following: "Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any 'abuse' came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position." I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent. Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege. (Full stop.)

Now, at 44, I'm beginning (just beginning) to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern. I'm beginning to entertain the notion that in such a circumstance the idea of consent might well be rendered moot. (Although power imbalances-and the ability to abuse them-do exist even when the sex has been consensual.)

Clinton doesn't seem to grasp that point. In fact, he seems much more interested in how he was, ultimately, validated by the public than in talking about whether or not he should have apologized to Lewinsky.

"This was litigated 20 years ago," Clinton told Melvin. "Two-thirds of the American people sided with me."

So: Because the public felt that Clinton didn't deserve to be impeached for his actions with Lewinsky (and his lies about those actions) he doesn't feel the need to call her and apologize? Huh?

This is not a polling issue. This is a right and wrong issue. There is NO question that Lewinsky's entire life -- or at least the last 20-ish years of it -- has been negatively effected by a relationship she had with a man when she was in her early 20s. And that, given the power dynamic differential between the two, the burden to try to make some amends for that fact falls to Clinton.

Has Lewinsky asked for a personal apology from Clinton? Not that I can find. Does she want one? Again, she's never voiced that sentiment publicly.

But that is sort of beside the point. Clinton could -- and should -- make the call, whether or not he reaches Lewinsky. It's the right thing to do -- no matter what the public, or polling -- says about his impeachment two decades ago.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49063

Reported Deaths: 2732
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11760689
Lake5276246
Elkhart340255
Allen2835133
St. Joseph200169
Cass16429
Hamilton1608101
Hendricks1425100
Johnson1296118
Porter76738
Tippecanoe7359
Clark66844
Madison66764
Bartholomew59145
Vanderburgh5876
LaPorte58326
Howard58058
Kosciusko5624
Marshall5016
Noble48528
LaGrange4779
Jackson4733
Boone45443
Delaware45252
Hancock45236
Shelby43125
Floyd38444
Morgan32731
Monroe30928
Montgomery29720
Grant29626
Clinton2902
Dubois2886
Henry28216
White26610
Decatur25432
Lawrence24825
Dearborn23823
Vigo2388
Warrick22729
Harrison21622
Greene19032
Miami1862
Jennings17712
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess14817
Wayne1436
Orange13623
Perry1359
Steuben1302
Franklin1268
Ripley1247
Jasper1232
Wabash1142
Carroll1102
Fayette1037
Newton9910
Gibson982
Whitley975
Starke943
Randolph804
Huntington782
Jefferson762
Wells751
Fulton721
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Owen501
Adams491
Benton480
Posey450
Sullivan451
Spencer441
Brown421
Blackford392
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton311
Switzerland280
Parke240
Martin220
Ohio180
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 60181

Reported Deaths: 2991
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10879439
Cuyahoga8277383
Hamilton6287206
Lucas2836303
Marion273639
Summit2241207
Pickaway220541
Montgomery220131
Mahoning1861239
Butler167447
Columbiana130960
Stark1156113
Lorain106468
Trumbull99774
Warren89525
Clark7809
Delaware61715
Fairfield60517
Tuscarawas58510
Belmont55522
Medina54332
Lake52920
Licking52012
Miami47531
Portage46159
Wood45251
Ashtabula43744
Clermont4317
Geauga41443
Wayne36552
Richland3515
Allen32841
Mercer2909
Greene2879
Darke25326
Erie25022
Holmes2453
Huron2282
Madison2029
Ottawa16024
Washington14020
Sandusky13814
Crawford1365
Putnam13215
Ross1323
Coshocton1302
Hardin12312
Morrow1181
Auglaize1074
Jefferson922
Union921
Monroe8917
Muskingum891
Hancock831
Preble801
Athens791
Hocking798
Guernsey763
Lawrence740
Williams722
Shelby704
Clinton680
Logan651
Fulton630
Ashland621
Carroll603
Wyandot605
Brown591
Scioto540
Defiance533
Knox531
Fayette480
Highland461
Champaign441
Van Wert420
Perry371
Seneca352
Henry320
Jackson260
Paulding260
Adams241
Pike240
Vinton222
Gallia201
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 78°
Angola
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Huntington
Scattered Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 74°
Decatur
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Van Wert
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
AM Storms, Slightly Cooler Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events