Copyright © 1998 Henrietta W. Hay
Ok, So I'm Finally Doing a Lewinsky Column . . .
September 18, 1998
At last it is out: the infamous X-rated "Report." It was delivered to
Congress last week and now is on the Internet and many newspapers in all
its gory glory. I find it hard to believe how low the political
system can go with electronic help. There is no way to avoid hearing
or reading about it short of moving into a cave on the Bookcliffs.
No soap opera writer could ever have thought up the show we have been
subjected to the past year. If it were written it might be called "As
Washington Turns," or "The Not So Young and the Restless."
We have a stellar cast of characters. First the flawed hero. In
literature all heroes have a fatal flaw and usually it has to do with
women. This one is no exception. This hero's name is Bill. He has
the most prestigious job in America. He is smart energetic and
popular, and is good at his job. But he is very dumb in the sex
department, and his political enemies are exceptionally vicious -- a
The black hat villain is named is Ken (not related to Barbie). He works
in the dark but emerges from his cave every morning smirking broadly and
waving a cup of coffee. He has spent four years and $40 million tax
dollars trying to bring down the hero. That doesn't include the
coffee. It would have been cheaper to give each of them a spear and
turn them loose in the arena.
The ingenue is named Monica. She is young, attractive, not too
bright, and smitten by a powerful man. "Wow," says she. "This is
power." She is not famous for good judgment, including her choice of
The female heavy is Linda, who is a recording expert and not the kind of
friend any of us would want.
The non-speaking part goes to Sox, who views the whole thing with utter
In a soap opera there is usually a reporter or a beautiful female
newscaster. In this one, there are hundreds of them all going, "give us
more, more, more dirty details."
And then there is the 105th Congress which has only one basic interest
in the whole thing: its political consequences to each of them. They
generally wear gray suits and make pompous speeches.
There are hundreds in the cast - millions if you count all of us.
If this were really a soap opera we could tune in every day and see who
got a fabulous new job, who has contacted a fatal disease, who got a new
hairdo, who is sleeping with whom.
But this is the real world, and the real victim is the dignity and
effectiveness of the United States government.
I am appalled at the insensitivity and stupidity of Bill's actions, and
the damage they have caused. But having been an observer of the human
condition for some 80 years, I have noticed that humans are not always
perfect and they do not always behave well. I do, however, believe
that if stupid sex were to be included in "treason, bribery, or other
high crimes and misdemeanors," as reason for impeachment, the republic
would never have gotten off the ground.
The one character in this whole mess who has emerged with her dignity
intact is Hillary Rodham Clinton. There are those who claim that she
has "betrayed feminism." Quite the contrary. Feminism means that women
have enough power to make choices. We have no idea what she thinks or
feels. We do know how she acts. She has ability, influence, power
and money enough to make whatever choice she wants. She has chosen to
stay and behave with dignity.
I don't think the "Report" will compete over the long run with any good
American mystery novel. But if you want to read it, the uncensored
version is right out there in the open, thanks to Ken Starr and the U.