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.

Cases: 707111

Reported Deaths: 13216
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion963501718
Lake51613944
Allen39106671
Hamilton34449405
St. Joseph33979539
Elkhart27255432
Vanderburgh22060394
Tippecanoe21765212
Porter17945298
Johnson17507374
Hendricks16786310
Clark12681190
Madison12338337
Vigo12204244
Monroe11443166
LaPorte11118204
Delaware10341184
Howard9652211
Kosciusko9114114
Hancock7964139
Bartholomew7880155
Warrick7681155
Floyd7555176
Wayne6895198
Grant6837171
Boone6541100
Morgan6390138
Dubois6079117
Marshall5779108
Dearborn569876
Cass5683102
Henry5572100
Noble540683
Jackson493069
Shelby478495
Lawrence4338118
Gibson427989
Harrison427670
Clinton418653
Montgomery417786
DeKalb409184
Huntington378680
Whitley377939
Miami372465
Knox365989
Steuben364457
Putnam352560
Jasper350146
Wabash347678
Adams337952
Ripley334568
Jefferson312980
White308154
Daviess289299
Wells286281
Decatur278792
Fayette277162
Greene270685
Posey268533
Scott261053
Clay253244
LaGrange252470
Randolph235280
Washington230731
Spencer227631
Jennings224747
Fountain208445
Sullivan207742
Starke203952
Owen192156
Fulton191439
Jay186029
Carroll185720
Perry180236
Orange177253
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton160943
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130234
Pulaski113645
Newton103534
Brown100040
Crawford97614
Benton96713
Martin82615
Warren79615
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55711
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1052099

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1221671356
Cuyahoga1070432069
Hamilton781801168
Montgomery50040996
Summit45383909
Lucas40122765
Butler37721570
Stark31437895
Lorain24166473
Warren23885293
Mahoning20905583
Lake20009362
Clermont19441229
Delaware18038130
Licking16124207
Fairfield15708197
Trumbull15585460
Medina14868259
Greene14668236
Clark13634293
Wood12767185
Portage12384196
Allen11328229
Richland11041198
Miami10536214
Muskingum8706127
Wayne8576209
Columbiana8546226
Pickaway8436121
Marion8377135
Tuscarawas8376240
Erie7566154
Hancock6714123
Ross6699146
Geauga6537146
Ashtabula6495165
Scioto6289101
Belmont5626158
Union557647
Lawrence5467102
Jefferson5324147
Huron5307114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5174120
Seneca5124120
Washington5076107
Athens501556
Auglaize475684
Mercer471684
Shelby456090
Knox4387108
Madison422859
Putnam421599
Ashland413188
Fulton409467
Defiance402596
Crawford3872101
Brown386455
Logan372976
Preble370398
Clinton361560
Ottawa356978
Highland347059
Williams326774
Champaign320657
Jackson308451
Guernsey306649
Perry289949
Fayette277848
Morrow275339
Hardin264264
Henry263766
Coshocton259457
Holmes253399
Van Wert239162
Gallia233346
Pike233331
Adams228552
Wyandot227253
Hocking209059
Carroll189247
Paulding168638
Meigs141538
Noble132837
Monroe128841
Morgan106623
Harrison105336
Vinton81514
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 37°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 40°
Huntington
Cloudy
44° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 44°
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 37°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 39°
Small chances for isolated drizzle Saturday night & Sunday. Sunday morning starts cold, with the potential for frost area-wide, but warms up to where we should be this time of year.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events