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Daily Howler: Nine years later, that woman--Miss Lewinsky--is still the first thing on his mind
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GROUNDHOG YEAR! Nine years later, that woman—Miss Lewinsky—is still the first thing on his mind: // link // print // previous // next //

GROUNDHOG YEAR: Right in the middle of the Post op-ed page, all is perfectly right with the world. The Parson clears his throat before each paragraph—and he types his standard column about the role of religion:
MEACHAM (1/2/07): Time and again in the American experience, however, the culture has been more in line with Lincoln’s—and Ford's— views on the question of religious expression and thought in the public sphere than it has been to that of strict separationists. Guarding against excessive religious influence in our public affairs is an unending task, and the virtues of justice and mercy are universal (or should be).
You’re right—that doesn’t quite make sense. Presumably, an editor removed some phrase like “Still and all” from the start of that second sentence. But by now, The Parson’s columns on this topic virtually type themselves. He owns the “middle” in this pseudo-debate. Boldly, he takes his stand with Lincoln—but he warns against vulgar excess.

But our Groundhog Year didn’t really begin until we read Richard Cohen’s column, directly below The Parson’s. “This is the year 2007, brand new and full of promise,” he says—perhaps as a taunt. Yes, a brand new year is starting. But who is Cohen writing about? You guessed it! That woman, Miss Lewinsky!
COHEN (1/2/07): In the various books I've read about the Bill Clinton impeachment scandal—a scandal because of what was done and a scandal because the president was impeached for it—the same story is told over and over again. When the prosecutors or lawyers or whoever finally got to meet the storied Monica Lewinsky, they were floored by her. She was smart, personable and—as the record makes clear—dignified. This is more than can be said about some of the people who write about her.
Good God! Nine years later, he still thinks first of Miss Lewinsky! In this new and promising year, she is literally the first thing on his mind!

Please don’t make us waste our time discussing the premise of Cohen’s column. But let’s not miss the scribe’s obsession with the raven-haired source of great pleasure. “[I]n recent days, Lewinsky has been back in the news,” Cohen types—but, in truth, she actually hasn’t. According to Nexis, Lewinsky’s degree from the London School of Economics hasn’t even been mentioned by the AP, and it has received the tiniest coverage from the nation’s major newspapers. Except at the Washington Post, of course, where the standard idiot-piece was typed for the idiotic “Style” section (complete with a reference to Dan Quayle’s spelling—and with Monica’s thong in the headline). It is this piece that has poor Cohen musing on Monica once again.

No, Lewinsky hasn’t been “in the news;” Lewinsky has been in the Washington Post. The Post can’t get her out of its head. Everyone else has long done so. It’s Groundhog Year at the Washington Post. But uh-oh! Empty and addled beyond repair, they’re still in charge of our discourse.

CHERCHEZ THE MAN: As Cohen expresses his high-minded views, he still can’t quite manage to get it:
COHEN: It would be nice, too, and fair, also, if Lewinsky were treated by the media as it would treat a man. What's astounding is the level of sexism applied to her, as if the wave of the women's movement broke over a new generation of journalists and not a drop fell on any of them. Where, pray tell, is the man who is remembered just for sex? Where is the guy who is the constant joke for something he did in his sexually wanton youth? Maybe here and there some preacher, but in those cases the real subject matter is not sex but hypocrisy. Other than those, no names come to mind.
What man is “remembered just for sex?” One name comes to mind: Bill Clinton! And we’ll add another name—Al Gore. A few months ago, we had occasion to re-research the official start of Gore’s White House campaign, in June 1999. We were amazed to see how deeply the press corps was focused on Lewinsky that weekend (we’re talking about major front-page coverage)—and we were struck to see how clear it was that the battering being handed to Gore was really all about Miss Lewinsky. (Roger Simon said so to Howard Kurtz, and it’s clear from the larger context. For a tiny part of this story, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/29/06. In real time, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/23/99.) Earth tones? Invented the Internet? Hired a woman to teach him how to be a man? These were all subtext for “Miss Lewinsky.” Trust us—Gore is “remembered” for Lewinsky just as much as Bill Clinton is. Simply put, Cohen’s crew was obsessed by those bl*w j*bs—but Clinton hadn’t paid a sufficient price. So they began inventing weird tales about Gore—with Cohen reciting each one.

The U. S. Army is in Iraq because they couldn’t get over those bl*w j*bs. And nine years later, it’s Groundhog Year! It’s still the first thing on their minds!

FOREVER IN BLUE JEANS: Has that woman been “in the news?” Not really. At the Los Angeles Times, for example, Lewinsky’s degree from the LSE rated exactly 66 words. But God bless the children who run our discourse! Even in their 66 words, they worked in a treasured fake “fact:”
Nation in Brief / NEW YORK;
Lewinsky earns degree in Britain

Former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky, whose sexual relationship with President Clinton led to his impeachment, has graduated from the London School of Economics, her publicist said in New York.

Lewinsky, who was 21 when she became involved with Clinton, is interviewing for jobs in Britain, publicist Barbara Hutson said. Lewinsky received her master of science degree in social psychology.

Actually, Lewinsky was 22 and a half “when she became involved with Clinton.” But God bless them! They luvved that “21-year-old intern,” the star of their bodice-ripping novel. And they insist on their fake facts today! “That woman” is forever 21.

Need more? The UPI posted a short item on Lewinsky’s degree. And they too retyped the novel:
UNITED PRESS (12/21/06): Monica Lewinsky has earned a master's of science degree from the London School of Economics, People magazine reported Thursday.

Lewinsky, 32, is best remembered for her White House intern affair with former U.S. President Bill Clinton during his second term in office.
Uh-oh! Lewinsky, 32, was no longer an intern during her “White House affair.” But so what! The press corps penned a thrilling novel about their darling, a “21-year-old intern.” Even now, almost nine years later, they insist on their fake-but-fun “facts.”

By the way, the affair began in November 1995, during President Clinton’s first term. (His second term began fourteen months later.) The UPI and the LA Times devoted 183 words to this story. But God bless them! They crammed in a startling array of fake “facts”—fake facts from their long-treasured novel.

RULE BY THE WRONG: No, Lewinsky hasn’t been “in the news;” Lewinsky has been in the Washington Post. For example, her degree wasn’t mentioned in the New York Times. Except, of course, by Maureen Dowd, who asked Donald Trump to expound on the subject. Nine years later, the simpering columnist can’t get a young wench off her mind.

For the record, this is closely related to “rule by the wrong,” the puzzling folkway of our millionaire press corps. By now, everyone on earth has moved on—except for the “Pulitzer winners!”

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Jay Leno knew Monica’s age; Mark Shields didn’t. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/4/99, with links to previous work.