Politics & Policy

NaïVe Monica

Always the last to know.

Poor Monica! Always the last to know. She claims that it is only since the publication of The Book that she has finally realized that Bill Clinton’s pants really are on fire. In an interview on British television last week, she said that in his best-seller, Clinton lied about the true nature of their steamy relationship. He dismissed it as “an inappropriate encounter.” “He is a revisionist of history…” she huffed. “This was a mutual relationship, mutual on all levels right from the way it started, all the way through.” She went on to complain to ITV, “I didn’t expect him to talk in detail…but what I was hoping, and did expect was for him to acknowledge and correct the inaccurate and false statements that he, his staff and the [Democratic National Committee] made about me when they were trying to protect the presidency.” Fat chance.

Way back then, I was amazed that Monica stayed unexpectedly tight lipped and loyal during the first days of the scandal when Clinton and his henchmen were characterizing her as a stalker. Their first tactic, remember, was to diss, denigrate, and soil her reputation so that no one would bother to check out the very real stain on her blue Gap dress. It wasn’t spinach dip. Of course one did wonder at that time how the most protected man in the world could possibly be the victim of a stalker–especially one whose weapon of choice was a slice of pizza and whose most threatening gesture was snapping her jumbo-sized thong at him.

I always think of poor Monica as the ultimate Cosmo girl, who read and believed the addled-brained advice that this magazine dishes out on how to get and keep a man. Month after month, Cosmopolitan is filled with how-to instructions on developing sexual skills that would make the working girl on the corner hang up her garter belt in exhaustion.

In the current Cosmo, American women of normal intelligence are advised to analyze their man’s personality and sexual preferences by studying the way he eats ice cream. According to psychotherapist Christine Webber, author of Get the Happiness Habit, the best educated women in the world can get the real scoop on his inner cravings by watching him when he’s alone molesting a Snow Cone. Don’t laugh. Cosmopolitan has editions in almost 100 countries, exporting stories like “Men Unzipped: 5 Down-There Shockers (and how to handle them brilliantly)” and “His Butt: What the Size, Shape and Pinchability of those Sweet Cheeks Reveal about his True Self” to millions of impressionable young women. (And we’re surprised that people worldwide are disgusted by American pop culture?) I have no doubts that Monica first moves on Bill, from showing him her underpants to licking the cheese off her pizza were definitely Cosmo-inspired.

In fact, the whole coverage of Clinton’s book this past week has struck me as very women-magazine-ish. (Reading Cosmo, by the way, was one of the occupational hazards in my former life as a magazine editor.) Dan Rather’s soft-ball Access Hollywood-style interview on 60 Minutes was such a typical celebrity ‘get.” Rather asked nothing substantive on policy or politics and touched on the personal in a way that was guaranteed to show Clinton at his best “biting-his-lip as if to-hide-his-emotions” advantage. And what about when Rather asked Bill what was the best day in the White House? He confided, aw, shucks, it was the day Chelsea graduated from high school. Sweet. What if during the presidential debates George Bush says the best day of his presidency was when the twins graduated from college? Can you imagine the criticism of Bush for being shallow and self involved when he has the economy and the war on terrorism to run?

And what about the New York Times devoting a half page to comparing and analyzing two photos of the Clinton family, the famous one of them leaving the White House during the height of the Lewinsky scandal and the one taken last Monday night when they traipsed triumphantly into the Metropolitan Museum of Art for The Book party. Analyzing photos for deep, hidden meanings has become the signature of the celebrity rags like Us, In Touch, and the newly dumbed down–as if were possible–Star, all favored by young women readers. I guess the Clintons can bring out the inner tabloid even in the Times.

Nowadays, I feel kind of sorry for Monica, who I have met a couple of times. She is a size-16 beauty, not an easy thing to be in a world that demands that beauty comes only in size six packages. While the Clinton increase their bank accounts, and retain their power, she has become, at best, a C-List celebrity, who hosted last year’s most dreadful reality show Mr. Personality. Maybe she was trying to find an alternate answer to “What was the most mortifying thing you ever did?”

Last week on TV Monica, said, “I have spent the past years working so hard to just move on… I don’t accept that he has to completely desecrate my character.” Poor Monica, still so naïve about the Clintons’ standard operating procedure. It was always dangerous being a friend of Bill’s, but Monica is still learning it is truly devastating to have been more than a friend.

Myrna Blyth, long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness–and Liberalism–to the Women of America. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.

Myrna BlythMyrna Blyth is senior vice president and editorial director of AARP Media. She is the former editor-in-chief and publishing director of Ladies’ Home Journal. She was the founding editor and ...


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