Clinton Acquitted: The Lewinsky Factor, The intern who became a national star

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The Independent Online
JUST OVER a year ago, Monica Lewinsky was packing up her belongings in Washington and preparing to leave for New York. To most people, she was just another one of the thousands of young working people who move through the city every year, before moving on to another job. Those who met her at parties described her as shy, and not especially striking.

Yet by the time she made her first television appearance this year, giving videotaped evidence to the impeachment trial of her former boss, Ms Lewinsky's name and face were amongst the most recognised images on the planet.

Her trademark beret (by then swapped for a black baseball cap) was an instantly-recognisable cliche.

Her relationship with the President had been set out in minute detail in newspapers and on television programmes around the world, and her most intimate exchanges with her friends had been put on the Internet or recorded on tape.

The former White House intern and Pentagon employee will not now work for Revlon, as she had hoped when she left Washington. It is not clear what will happen to her life.

She says she lives in California, as much as she lives anywhere. She will tell her own story through a forthcoming book, Monica's Story, by the journalist Andrew Morton, and she will be interviewed by Barbara Walters for ABC and by Channel Four News. Once the last flush of media attention has drained, she will doubtless try to resurrect something close to a normal life.

Monica is just one of the figures in the drama of the last year whose daily existence has been transformed beyond recognition, but few have seen their lives so wrecked as she.

Most will carry on in their present jobs, or have a network of supporters to call on. She has spent close to a million dollars on legal fees, most of which she will recoup from the book and television, but she has no easy return to normal life mapped out.

Ms Lewinsky's first lawyer, William Ginsburg, did not help with the presentational aspects of her case. He appeared to relish the publicity, and arranged for a photo shoot with Vanity Fair that made her look sexually alluring.

But Mr Ginsburg was quickly replaced with two old Washington pros, who kept her literally and metaphorically under wraps.

She was initially described as a stalker by some (apparently White House inspired) reports, which stressed her parents' divorce and her unstable nature. But everything that we have seen and heard since belies that. She has appeared as a bright and composed figure with an excellent recall of the events that took place around her. She has a degree in psychology, which must have come in handy in the last year.

The last time she spoke to the President was on January 5 a year ago, when she had already been subpoenaed to give evidence in the sexual harassment suit brought by former Arkansas employee Paula Jones.

She was angry with the President, who she had recently seen on television with his wife "being romantic on their holiday vacation". They discussed her affidavit, and she said goodbye, "very abruptly," she remembered. Asked what she felt for Clinton now, she said: "I have mixed feelings."

"You think he's a good president, and I assume you think he's a very intelligent man," she was asked, and she responded, simply: "I think he's an intelligent president."

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