Moniculture

Freund and Masters

Moniculture

Freund and Masters

Moniculture
An email conversation about the news of the day.
March 4 1999 10:39 AM

Freund and Masters

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My Lady Kim,

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There was a time in the Monica scandal when it had a "mortification" factor. That is, people here--including those disposed to like Clinton--thought that a point was coming when the revelations would prove so embarrassing that the prez couldn't preside over a public that knew so many odd personal details about him. But mortification seems to have died the same death as credibility. So I half-expected that, in this morning after the Night of Lewinsky, the papers would carry giant, gone-to-war banners screaming MONICA HAD ORGASMS!

After all, who was servicing whom was once a point of only semi-comic legal contention. The president, in all his dignity, insisted that while Monica had sex with him, that was absolutely as far as it went. Not so: Monica confessed to Barbara that, in what now passes for discretion, she was made to feel "content" as a woman. (She's more direct in the book: She says she had the relationship's very first orgasm.) It was gratifying to learn of her contentment, and I confess that I thought about the macadamia nuts story that was all over the city last year. But, in deference to the Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, I won't repeat that story unless ABC gives me two hours to do so.

Monica's new TV look turns out to be the same one she sports on the dust jacket of her 300-page memoir, an interesting piece of image calculation. As one political consultant tells the Washington Post this morning, "This is her big shot to brand herself." His phrasing gives off a certain, scalding hiss, I think. You should know that, given your question about how D.C. watched this, the Post's big front-page pic today is of four unknown women on a sofa. The caption explains that this otherwise baffling image was taken at a Monica party. The Times' big pic, in an odd conjunction, was of a smiling Hillary. (Speaking of the book, 300 pages seems awfully long. I give Gennifer Flowers credit for writing a book half the size; despite its brevity, it avoids the sin of reticence.)

By the time the 20/20 special was over, I wondered what antidepressants Lewinsky was on, so that I could take some, too. Does this story reveal much about Washington? Not as much, I'd argue, as your own mini-confessions of capital "flirtation" revealed. A staffer at the EEOC, charged with protecting women from workplace harassment, offered to trade you documents for sex? Now that's a real Washington story. You should find a way to spin that out.

Monica buried everything else. What happened with Hitchens? That's the biggest politicized friendship story since Alger Hiss remembered Whittaker Chambers only after looking into his mouth. Monica even buried the Greaseman's apology, in a D.C. church, to the black community. "I understand your hatred," he told them. Does he? Wonder if he chewed his lower lip. Seems to work.

Gnashingly,

Charles

Charles Paul Freund is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Kim Masters is a contributing editor to Time and Vanity Fair.