letterThe Opinionated Bitch – Dear Monica Lewinsky

Dear Monica,

Hi. Carol Baker here, also known as “The Opinionated Bitch”. Don’t be put off by the nickname. It’s just what people call me because I have a tendency to calls ‘em like I sees ‘em. I’d like to talk to you about a few things, so, just between us ladies, can I call you Monica? M’kay. Great.

Monica, dear… I haven’t actually read the entirety of your interview with Vanity Fair because it hasn’t been released yet, but it’s clear Vanity Fair has offered up a preview to plenty of news outlets. I write this based on their teasers, so forgive me if I’ve missed something since I’m not on the V.I.P. list to get the pre-release. I’m relying on the parts that have been leaked. What I have done is read every direct quote from every possible source and tossed the commentary to the side. The commentary? That’s my job.

Let me start by saying that a few years before the story of you and Bubba broke, I was the wife of a serial cheater. In the end, he got a pass – aside from me tossing his sorry ass out of the house and forwarding his mail to his favorite barstool. (Yes, I really did that.) His friends and mine told me that if I’d just been more attentive, more understanding, more… more, he would never have strayed. You and I both know that’s not really true though, right? You and I both know we’ve lived long enough in a Patriarchal society to know that the old ‘boys will be boys’ talking point was more of a thing even back then than it is today. At the time, I was angry enough at the other women (plural) involved to call them a lot of things, and ‘a narcissistic loony toon’ was not on the list of pejoratives. Loony was way too tame for me. Years later my perspective on these women has softened substantially. That became easier as life ran my ex-husband over by the Karma Bus. Who could really have blamed me for lashing out during the darkest days of my pain? I’ve evolved in the ensuing years. I used to wish my ex a long, slow, painful death. Now? Hell, any old death will do. But this isn’t really about me. Just wanted to offer up a little background so you’d understand I’m not coming at this thing from a wholly uninformed position.

The most frequently heard commentary from the pundits is about how Bubba got a ‘pass’ on all of this. He kept his Presidency. He lost the respect of a nation. He was the first modern President to be impeached. Every salacious and sordid detail was released to the public. Linda Tripp and Ken Starr made sure of that. I don’t call that nothing. I do have to ask though: was Hillary present during any of these trysts holding your hair back? No? Then I have to ask… why is she again being punished for a crime two other people committed? Do you seriously blame the woman for being angry with you? Do you seriously blame her for what can only be termed ‘tame’ comments, given the shame she endured because of decisions you and her husband made? No. I didn’t think so.

I have to tell you, I was once a big fan of the Clintons. The passage of NAFTA and the devastating effects on American jobs was to me, the big failure of his administration. I believe Hillary is too institutionalized to politics to ever be an effective populist leader, but I like her as a human being. Contrary to those with Benghazi Tourette’s, her work as Secretary of State was stellar and I was sad to see her go. While I would love to see a woman take the Presidential reigns, after 8 years of blatant racism, I’m not sure I have the stomach for 8 years of blatant sexism and I’m even less sure Hillary is the right choice for the job. Bubba is what I consider to be one of the finest ex-presidents in our history. The work they do at the Clinton Foundation is remarkable and life changing. If there is redemption for him in this story, it has to be the work he has done since leaving office.

If there’s one thing for which I am deeply grateful, it is that no one knows all of the stupid, impulsive things I did in my youth. You do not have that privilege. You chose to have a relationship not only with a married man, but a very powerful one. You chose to have a relationship with a man for whom the Republicans had long been on a witch-hunt. Surely even you were aware of Christmas Card-Gate, Whitewater and Vince Foster. A seminally conscious young woman, even one infatuated with the most powerful man in the world had to understand the dangers of what you were both doing.

monica lewinsky

Monica, darling, Bill should have been the adult in the room. He should have said no. He had the power to stop this. My opinion on this will never change. He made commitments to his wife and his daughter and to a nation and he violated all of them. I’ve always assumed that White House interns have been carefully screened and are even more carefully supervised. I’ve always assumed they understood that any interaction with the Commander In Chief must remain professional. I’m sure you were told that. I’m sure you knew better than to do what you were doing.  But you kept the dress. You confided in a woman you barely knew who taped your conversations. You made choices in your life and now I’m being called out for waging a War on Women because I won’t give you a pass either. You can bitch about how your life turned out and blame the Clintons, but honey, to coin a favorite GOP snark phrase, “You built that”, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out you had a hell of a construction crew.  I’m not waging a war on you or any other woman, but it’s another great talking point for my detractors in an attempt to keep me from telling you the truth.

blue dressI’d be lying if I told you I’d given you much thought at all over the past decade or so. Even when people terrified of a Hillary run mentioned your name, I never took it seriously enough to even wonder where you were or what you were doing. I assumed you were living a quiet life and wanted it that way. You even said in your Vanity Fair interview you wanted to live a quiet life, but that’s not really true either, is it, Monica? You claim you ‘feared another wave of paparazzi’ if Hillary ran and now, the crazies are out there saying Hillary is behind you breaking your silence – something you deny and I believe. You claim the relationship was consensual. I believe that too. You claim it was the dawning of your 40th birthday and the suicide of a Rutgers student that prompted you to start talking again. Okay. Who am I to say that’s not true? Hell, Monica, I’ll defend your right to say whatever you want, but please forgive me if I find your timing suspicious. You can claim to hold no grudges all day long, but that, that is where I’m calling bullshit on this whole thing. I understand that your life didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. I understand that getting a job has been next to impossible for you because companies either don’t want to be associated with what your name means or they want to exploit what your name means – not a good deal for you either way. But in one breath you say you harbor no grudges against the Clintons and in the next breath, you name all the reasons why your lot in life is their fault. Thrusting yourself into the spotlight and claiming it’s because you fear a Hillary run will thrust you into the spotlight is like saying you’re afraid to get fat so you’re going on an all-bacon, sugar and chocolate diet with a pack of smokes for dessert and honey, as someone whose gone on an all-bacon, sugar and chocolate diet with a pack of smokes for dessert, I’m here to tell you it’s a bunch of hooey. You end up with the opposite desired results and no one really believes you as you’re satisfying your appetite for revenge. You say in the Vanity Fair piece that it’s “time to burn the beret and bury the dress”.  Right. Because still metaphorically having them speaks volumes about the grudge you’ve been carrying.

I felt sympathy for you then, Monica, because at the time even I could see the fear in your eyes. People who didn’t give a damn about you used you, and no, I’m not talking about the Clintons. I remember the moment Ken Starr admitted that because they couldn’t pin anything else on the Clintons, try as they may, you were handed to them on a silver platter to destroy Bubba’s presidency – not by Bill and certainly not by Hillary – but by Linda Tripp and Ken Starr. And for all of the Republicans standing up talking about morals and character, we now know how too many of them were having extramarital affairs and fathering love children outside of their own marriages that it’s all so piteously laughable in hindsight, mostly at your expense. Ken Starr, a man who openly seemed to find sex a pretty icky thing made sure the most salacious parts of your testimony were released so the world could view you as a stalking slut. The Clintons didn’t do that to you, Monica. Ken Starr did that to you. The same Ken Starr who is now the chancellor of Baylor University. Ken did pretty well for himself at your expense.

I’m sorry you were slut shamed. I’m sorry all they could talk about was the cigar, your weight and how this was all your fault. It wasn’t your entire fault. It wasn’t even mostly your fault. The Clintons had long been in self-preservation mode and they were two people raising a daughter – a daughter who had been called a dog by Rush Limbaugh and whose painful transition to womanhood had been cruelly scrutinized by the entire world. I find it interesting that you can’t see beyond yourself even now to consider the impact this had on their daughter. No one got out of this thing whole. Hillary didn’t and gawd knows Chelsea sure didn’t. I know you didn’t.

In the end, we have a choice to make the most of what life gives us. You were fortunate enough to be born into an affluent family. You’ve had plenty of opportunities since your 15 minutes of fame ended. You’re well educated and though you’ve made a claim of barely getting by, those of us born into far less fortunate circumstances aren’t ready to start an Indiegogo fundraiser for you.

If I could offer one piece of advice, Monica, just one: mirrorThe older a woman gets, the less attractive we look wearing the cloak of victimhood. Let me assure you the rest of the sane world has moved on and Monica, dear – you should too. Hillary is no doubt going to run for President and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. If you want to stay mad at Bubba, that’s your right, but if you’re mad at Hillary, then you’re mad at the wrong person. History will take care of Linda Tripp and Ken Starr and all of the men who were doinking their mistresses while wagging a finger at President Clinton and using you to get at him. In the mean time, a package will be arriving at your doorstep in the next day or so. In that package you’ll find a carefully wrapped mirror. Please take the time to use it before granting any more interviews. Its purpose isn’t about your outward appearance but for a very different kind of reflection.

In the meantime, be well. Find your bliss, Monica. At 40, you’re truly more beautiful than ever. May self-awareness complete the gift you’ve yet to give the world. You’ll never be able to look toward your future until you let go of your past. The time to ‘burn the beret and bury the blue dress’ was a long time ago.

I wish you nothing but the best and I know there are great things ahead for you.



Monica, P.S.: You say, “I’m not “a Feminist with a capital F.” If you’re only a feminist when feminists are nice to you, you aren’t a feminist with a small f either.


Carol Baker is a political writer and a frequent contributor to Here Women Talk

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