Unlikely Monica Lewinsky Will Hurt Hillary in 2016

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 07:18 AM

By Jon Friedman

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Hillary Clinton must have expected to hear disquieting talk about Benghazi before her expected entrance into the 2016 presidential sweepstakes. That she could strategize and ultimately handle — likely in the cool, precise tone we have come to expect from a former first lady, U.S. senator from New York, and secretary of state.

But Monica Lewinsky has recently emerged from the shadow of obscurity, to throw Hillary for a major loop. For that matter, Monica has managed to confound the rest of us, too.

She has been quiet by now for so long, since her infamy more than a decade ago, that we'd figured her best shot at fame today would be as an answer on "Jeopardy" or the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle.

But make no mistake about Monica: She's baaaaaack.

Looking beyond her newly minted 15 minutes of 21st century fame, it is essential to look beyond Lewinsky herself, and the late-night comedy-show jokes, as well as the media's love of nostalgia, scandal, and entertainment thinly disguised as news. (Remember, throughout Monica's tell-nothing in Vanity Fair, she shed no light other than to remind us that she had been, in Bob Dylan's evocative lyric "famous long ago," and that, well, she's baaaack.)

I want to understand how Monica Lewinsky's re-emergence into our lives might affect Hillary Clinton, not the wife and mother, but the presidential politician. On her own, it's not too likely that one ex-intern could derail this tornado (only something like health concerns could possibly take her out of the race).

But what if the likes of Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, et. al, women with stories to tell about Bill Clinton, also come forward, now that Monica has shown you can cash in on your silence? The cumulative burst of sordid tales might just be enough to turn the national conversation away from Hillary and back on to Bill.

It would be as if the last 22 years never happened, and that memorable "60 Minutes" interview featuring Mr. and Mrs. Clinton was also ripe for replucking.

Say, maybe this would also unwittingly unleash a hunger for 1990s nostalgia; if ABC's sit-com "The Goldbergs" could make us all give a revisionist view to the much-maligned 1980s, maybe Hillary and Bill and Monica could make us yearn for the halcyon days on the roaring '90s.

Well, Monica is doing her part. Whatever her end game might be.

Does she want to make a quick buck before retreating into a semi-dignified corner somewhere? Does she somehow actually feel that the media wronged her for all these years, and all she really wants is an opportunity to tell her side of the story? Or, does she want to extract some measure of revenge from the Clintons?

One outcome is clear, for now, anyway: In discussions about Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential run, Lewinsky has taken the national eye off the tragedy in Benghazi, which, come to think of it, actually may not be such a bad thing for Hillary Clinton.

Jon Friedman writes the Media Matrix blog for Indiewire.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)Invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution." Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
 

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