Lewinsky just wants to move on, but she can't halt the Clinton bandwagon
Sunday 27 June 2004
Monica Lewinsky's famous blue dress had what was billed as a final public outing in December. The gown and its big-haired occupant were pictured in GQ magazine, sprawling in a bath of rosesto celebrate her 30th birthday.
"My 20s were a little colourful," she told the interviewer. "I hope my 30s are less eventful. I hope I'm a little less on the radar screen."
The vow of privacy has been short-lived. Last week Ms Lewinsky was back, denouncing the man who propelled her into the history books and attempting, she says, to put the record straight.
The White House's most famous intern chose the British media, the Daily Mail and ITV news, to make her first public comments on Bill Clinton's autobiography, My Life. She accused the former president of trying to destroy her with his characterisation of the affair as "disgusting", arguing that the liaison was one of mutual affection.
"I think what he has written and said is horrible," she told the newspaper. "The adjectives he used ... have made me feel as any woman would feel, like an insignificant piece of dirt."
Ms Lewinsky's place in history may not be her only concern. There was a time when she was a chat-show star and a regular in glossy magazines. In 1999 she received $600,000 (£330,000) for her own memoir, Monica's Story, written by Andrew Morton. But now it is her former lover's turn on prime time.
For Monica, interviews are a rarity, and the handbag business she started two years ago is said to be struggling. Her products no longer appear on the shelves of the chic Fifth Avenue department store Henri Bendel, and the company website is "hibernating while designing for next season". The £120,000 Ms Lewinsky reportedly received for the ITN interview lookswelcome, as does a large cash injection from the Daily Mail (although any payments have remained confidential).
Every aspect of her liaison with Mr Clinton, including oral sex and intimate acts with a cigar, was publicly exposed thanks to the then President's lies about the affair with "that woman", and the subsequent investigation, led by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Mr Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1998, and Ms Lewinsky was threatened with 27 years in jail unless she testified.
"I really didn't expect him to go into detail about our relationship," she told the Mail last week. "But if he had, and he'd done it honestly, I wouldn't have minded ... I did, though, at least expect him to correct the false statements he made when he was trying to protect the presidency.
"Instead, he talked about it as though I had laid it all out there for the taking. I was the buffet and he just couldn't resist the dessert. I don't accept that he had to completely desecrate my character, which not only affected me, but my family, my friends and my future."
In an interview with ITN, broadcast on Friday, Ms Lewinsky said she had been particularly upset by Mr Clinton's assertion on the US show 60 Minutes that he embarked on the affair "for the worst possible reason - just because I could". She had spent the past several years trying to "move on" and build a life. "It has been so difficult because of so many of the lies he has told about me and about what happened," she told ITN.
None of her criticism is likely to harm sales of the book. The initial print run of 1.5 million copies is already heavily over-subscribed, making the $10m (£5.5m) advance paid to Mr Clinton look like smart business.
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