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Jewish World Review March 8, 1999 /20 Adar 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen
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Monica's story: No morals

( "IT WAS A SMALL, SUBTLE, FLIRTATIOUS GESTURE." That is how Monica Lewinsky characterized her now-infamous opening gambit to serve as Bill Clinton's temporary concubine (recall that she told Kenneth Starr's investigators that she thought his regular girlfriend was on furlough). Showing your underwear to the president of the United States, someone you met for the first time only hours before, is by the lights of this product of Beverly Hills "subtle." Whatever can forward look like?

Still, you've got to give her credit for at least knowing her man. The fellow who told an MTV audience about his own underwear preferences recognized immediately someone who spoke his language. The Monica interview with Barbara Walters is an important piece of cultural history. It stands as a monument to what liberalism and secularism have wrought.

Asked if she ever, during the 18-month duration of their affair, considered that what she was doing was wrong, Monica said no. She was thinking only of herself. She was infatuated. She was excited. She was having fun.

Sex educators of the world, take a bow. Monica and millions like her have absorbed your message. Sex is shorn of moral dimensions or considerations. It is the greatest achievement to be "comfortable with (one's) sensuality."

Thus, Monica can praise her first married boyfriend for making her feel beautiful and again "sensual," without even a hint of shame. And she can discourse clinically about Bill Clinton's "conflicts" on the subject. She suspects that a "religious upbringing" might have made him feel that his "sensuality" was "not OK."

That is rich. Here is a married man, president of the United States, sexual omnivore of worldwide renown, carrying on with a woman less than half his age while the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit, and Monica's analysis of his discomfort is laid at the feet of a strict religious upbringing!

For all her psychotherapy, Monica hasn't yet come close to what really ails her. Her lack of self-esteem is unfortunate. But her lack of a moral compass is the shame.

One almost can't blame her. Her parents sound as immature and morally adrift as she (Marcia Lewis was quoted in January 1998 as asking: "So he lied, and she lied, what's the big deal?"), and it's a virtual certainty that Monica was devoid of religious education.

Held aloft by antidepressants, she hopes for true love (or in her '80s talk: "a meaningful relationship"), marriage and children. It doesn't seem to have crossed her mind that stable marriages and happy families are difficult to sustain in a world of 20ish Monicas flashing their sexual availability to married men and never even having the decency to feel contrite. The affair, she asserted starchily at one point, "was between us."

Still later in the Walters interview, Monica demonstrated that she has learned little from her ordeal. Asked if she would do anything differently, she said she sometimes wishes merely that she hadn't confided in Linda Tripp.

This is not to suggest that she was the more guilty party in that squalid affair. He is the lout, the master manipulator (didn't you love his tearful reassurance that their relationship was not just about sex?) and the cruel traducer. She is at least loyal. After being trapped by Linda Tripp and interrogated by Ken Starr's staff, she was frantic to warn the president. Within a few days, he was trashing her with lies and slanders.

The sex educators might want to think twice before congratulating themselves too heartily on the creation of Monicas though. Because the true nature of sex will out, even to those trained not to perceive it. Monica took pride in her "sensuality" and did not feel used even as she serviced him while he chatted on the phone. But later, when he finally admitted the relationship to the world and called it "wrong," she said she felt "dirty" and "like a piece of trash." How could his use of the tepid word "wrong" elicit such a sudden sense of being sullied? Where did the pride in her sensuality go?

Can it be that despite all the chirpy talk of sex educators, sex is actually freighted with meaning, easily abused and sometimes heavy with shame?


03/04/99: Not home but library alone:
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2/27/99: Cease-fire in war between sexes?
2/23/99: Where were the religious voices?
2/19/99: Depends what you mean by "acting"
2/17/99: As Minn., goes so goes the nation?
2/09/99: Prepare for post-impeachment spin
2/03/99: Teaching morality
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1/26/99: The truth about the Peace Process
1/22/99: The vulgar decade
1/19/99: Was Jefferson libeled by DNA?
1/13/99: The backlash picks up speed
1/11/99: Who invented politics of personal destruction?
1/07/99: Shall we dance?
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12/30/98: The price of virtue
12/28/98: The gift of giving
12/22/98: Party of shame, party of shamelessness
12/18/98: Wag the country
12/16/98: Is this impeachment constitutional?
12/14/98: Republicans find courage
12/09/98: Nappy Hair and other racial slurs
12/07/98: Stranger in a strange land
12/02/98: Dangerous ground
11/30/98: Involuntary fatherhood?
11/24/98: Lies, damned lies, and sex lies
11/18/98: Another victory for cowardice
11/16/98: Separatism plus welfarism equals a dead end
11/10/98: Did conservatism lose campaign '98?
11/06/98: Democrat venality, Republican timidity
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10/19/98: The school voucher that saved a family
10/14/98: Are powerful women different?
10/09/98: Can just sex be impeachable?
10/07/98: Repeal Miranda
10/02/98: Understanding the polls
10/01/98: What school texts teach about marriage
9/28/98: Fear of choice
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9/18/98: Christianity and the Holocaust
9/16/98: The national dirty joke
9/11/98: Are we in crisis?
9/09/98: Does Burton's sin let Clinton off the hook?
9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
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5/29/98: The truth about women and work
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5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
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4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
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2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1999, Creators Syndicate