The Corner

The Monica Monicker

Today’s New York Times Book Review contains a letter from Daniel Okrent, who was the Times’ inaugural “public editor” a decade or so ago, complaining that President Clinton’s notorious dalliance with his intern should not be called “the Lewinsky scandal.” Okrent quotes Miss Lewinsky’s mother: “She was a college-age intern. He was the most powerful man in the world. Why is the scandal named after her?”

That’s fine, except (1) scandals are not always, or even usually, called by the name of the chief villain. They are just as often named after victims (the Dreyfus affair), companies (Crédit Mobilier), code names (Fast and Furious), beneficiaries (Iran-Contra), or even buildings (Watergate). And, more to the point, (2) if you ever did make reference to “the Clinton scandal,” the inevitable response would be: “Which one?”