I Dated Monica Lewinsky

Behind the tawdriest of headlines, there’s a woman I wouldn’t mind bringing home to mom.

By Jake Tapper

You tend not to spend too much time contemplating Tim Russert’s innermost thoughts when you’re 100 feet under water, breathing through a narrow tube, soaring past the ocean wall in slow motion, staring at 200-year-old sea tortoises, parrot fish, and coral that have no concern for love or career. A week of no news, no television—nothing more than books and the company of a handful of divers and fisherman. I had no idea of the storm clouds brewing in D.C.; the weather in the Caymans was 80 and sunny, the diving was clear, and my tan was coming in even and had yet to peel.

monica-lewinskyIt was while waiting for the first plane at the shack that passes for an airport in Little Cayman that I caught a glimpse of the AP wire story on the front page of the Caymanian Compass. I was playing with a puppy in the airport office when I saw the headline; the Caymanian reading the paper quickly offered it to me, as I clearly had more interest in it than he.

The world was beside itself about the latest presidential scandal, this one involving an affair with a then-21-year-old intern—the juiciest story to break in my adult life, a salacious tale of alleged infidelity between the most powerful man in the Milky Way and a girl named Monica.

Monica Lewinsky.  A girl I’d gone out on a date with a few weeks before.

I hesitate here, because I have no desire to appear on Hard Copy or banter with MSNBCeebees, and, essentially, I feel bad for poor Monica and feel unclean adding my feeble barnacle to her ship of fame. Although I will admit to an odd weave of loathing and envy when I watch the blabbocracy breathlessly weighing in—Hey, I think, they don’t even know this chick. But I am not jumping in because one dinner with Monica enabled me to read her mind as she sits with friends and family at the Watergate, pondering her fate.

I write, clearly, because I want a piece of this story just like everybody else. That imperative distinguishes me not at all from every other journalist in Washington. But perhaps even more, I also want to point out that behind this particular bimbo eruption sits a young woman who is not a bimbo, who is a fairly sensible sort from what I saw, who was never going to be the one holding a press conference alongside a posterboard blowup of the Star with a back pocket full of the cash she got from selling out. She may be guilty of poor judgment, but she never asked for this.

That said, let the whoring begin.
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