Maybe It Is About Sex

Aug. 12 1998 3:30 AM

Maybe It Is About Sex

Why Starr's report will only cover Flytrap.

(Continued from Page 1)

Why the "strange new respect"? First, the Golden Rule of Conventional Wisdom, which is that it must change. Troubled Monica is an old story: Reporters needed a new angle for this round of Flytrap. Result: Knitting Monica. Lewinsky is reaping the reward for having dumped William Ginsburg. His wild, self-aggrandizing public statements made both of them a laughingstock, and the Vanity Fair photo shoot he arranged sullied Lewinsky's image almost as much as a Penthouse spread would have. She is also enjoying the imprimatur of the law. Whenever someone testifies, gravitas follows. The mere fact of giving sworn testimony to a court imbues a witness with credibility and weight: She is participating in the measured and solemn business of justice.

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But the No. 1 reason why Monica has seemed like a sweetheart is that the White House has been silent. As Monica's image goes, so goes the president. If Clinton were going to apologize, Lewinsky's new image would be safe. It would do no good for the White House to savage her if the president is going to admit an affair.

But the White House campaign against Monica is beginning, and that's the best indicator so far that Clinton is not going to apologize. For him to survive a denial, Monica must be ruined. Having showered Monica with security clearances and Pentagon jobs and gifts and White House visits, it's a little hard for Clinton to make the claim that she's a nut cake, but the effort will be made. A National Enquirer story, probably based on a White House leak, quotes Clinton saying that Monica is "dangerous" and that she "hallucinates." According to Newsweek, Clinton attorney David Kendall is gathering dirt about Lewinsky's mendacity and presidential obsession. White House officials are tallying and comparing all the different stories Lewinsky has told about Clinton (to Tripp, to friends, in her affidavit, to Vernon Jordan, etc.) and are gleefully looking forward to exposing the inconsistencies. If Monica must be killed to save the president, she will be killed (metaphorically speaking, of course).

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