Executive Privileges

A summary of what's been in the tabloids.
Aug. 13 1998 3:30 AM

Executive Privileges

The tabloids' steamy take on the Bill and Monica romance.

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Her lips as vivid as the plumage of the vermilion flycatcher, Monica Lewinsky returns this week to the covers of the Star and the National Enquirer. In a detailed account of her White House trysts, the Star portrays Lewinsky as a sort of Jewish Salome, arousing the president with her dance of the Gap dress, only to hand the independent counsel the head of Bill the Southern Baptist. According to the publication, Lewinsky told the grand jury of at least four sexual encounters (depending on your definition of the phrase) in Clinton's office.

Emily Yoffe Emily Yoffe
Emily Yoffe writes the "Keeping Tabs" column for Slate. You can e-mail the author at eyoffe@hotmail.com.
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Apparently the president is a man with precise, if deranged, views on the matter. How many 51-year-olds could write philosophic treatises on getting to first, second, and third base? The Star reports that Lewinsky says the president allowed them to engage in kissing and "heavy petting" while they had their clothes on. Once things got hot, however, "[h]e and Monica would unclench--and she would perform a private strip show for the president," making sure "the two refrained from touching each other." All right, Abelard and Héloise it's not--with the staining of the dress it's probably closer to "Hints from Heloise." The damned spot occurred, says the Star, during one of these episodes, while the dress lay on the carpet. The Star's "source" explains that Clinton "believes that if they weren't touching in any state of undress, that it's not technically sexual relations." Let's see, making out with someone, then ejaculating while she strips in your office does not constitute sexual relations. Bill, that's good, that's good.

The Star also reports that a Secret Service agent and former top Clinton aide Harold Ickes "walked in on the president and his young guest while the two were enjoying an extended stay in the private study." It does not report if Clinton subsequently began to hang "Do Not Disturb" signs on White House doorknobs.

Ickes makes a very different kind of appearance in the National Enquirer's Monica package. In it he is Cassandra, cursed to have his prophecies disbelieved: "When Ickes first tried to tell Clinton that Monica was spreading stories that could be harmful to him, he refused to listen." In this version of events, Clinton got sucked into an innocent "paternal" relationship (we're entering Woody Allen territory here) with a woman he supposedly characterized as "wide-eyed and young and I knew she got a thrill out of talking to me." What he eventually came to realize, the Enquirer quotes him telling friends, is that "[t]he woman is dangerous. She hallucinates. She fantasizes. I don't know if she even knows what the truth really is anymore."

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O n the other hand, according to another story in the very same issue, the Enquirer reports what no one else has--that she and Clinton went all the way. In this version of events, Lewinsky believed their dalliance was a true love affair. "I thought he turned to me because his wife is so cold," another insider has her saying. But soon she realized she was not to be Clinton's Wallis Warfield Simpson. "I saw my dreams start to unravel when he told me I should return the gifts," she is quoted as saying. Despite feeling humiliated and enraged, she did it, because "I didn't want him to be hurt. I loved him."

Since it's difficult to reconcile the portrait of the "virtual psychopath who had created an entire fantasy world involving the President, a woman who now wanted to destroy him," with the woman who was pursued then "coldly dumped" by him, the only prudent conclusion to draw from the Enquirer is that we have one wacky White House.

The Enquirer also calls in the services of forensic psychiatrist Dr. Judianne Densen-Gerber to analyze the meaning of the dress. "It's very, very bizarre. Why would she keep the dress? Why would she send it to her mother? The normal thing is if you stain something, you wash it off." Densen-Gerber is obviously a disciple of the One-Hour Martinizing school of psychiatry.

Finally, this whole sordid episode might open a new category of collectible. Stephen Fishler, a collectibles expert, tells the Enquirer if the dress contains Clinton's semen and it leads to impeachment proceedings, it could fetch $500,000. Semen, schemen is the reaction of collector Jesse Briggs, who has already made an offer (are formal bids being accepted?) of $100,000 for the frock, no matter what the result.

And don't look to the Globe for more Monica madness. It is staying out of this whole tawdry mess, preferring to examine more elevated topics such as the possibility that actor Jim Carrey believes the spirit of late comedian Andy Kaufman has taken over his body.

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