Monica Lewinsky is about to become a punchline and political ammo — again.
The onetime White House intern’s affair with then-President Bill Clinton got the former president impeached by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and made her the butt of every tawdry joke for a decade. Lewinsky now advocates against the kind of bullying she endured, and works hard to stay out of the press outside of that work.
But with a woman whose marriage was intimately examined on the House floor in the late ’90s leading the Democratic Party race, and a Republican front-runner who champions gendered attacks and for whom nothing — not even whose wife is hotter — off limits, the Lewinsky scandal is back in the headlines.
“I think when Donald Trump debates Hillary Clinton she’s going to go down like Monica Lewinsky,” Chair of Florida’s Broward County GOP Executive Committee Bob Sutton told The Washington Post in an article published Wednesday, prompting outrage.
He later apologized, but he’s far from the first. Last weekend Bernie Sanders surrogate Rosario Dawson invoked Lewinsky — and her activism against bullying — to attack Clinton, forcing Sanders to deflect questions about whether or not references to Lewinsky are fair game on the campaign trail.
Trump made it quite clear early on in his bid that this would be an inevitable part of the race.
“But there certainly were a lot of abuse of women, you look at whether it’s Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones, or any of them, and that certainly will be fair game,” Trump said on the “TODAY” show in December. “Certainly, if they play the woman’s card with respect to me, that will be fair game.”
Two weeks later, he posted a video on Instagram that showed images from the infamous affair and pictures of Clinton with the sexting scandal-plagued former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner and Bill Cosby, who has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women.
“I don’t want to say it’s a threat, but it’s a threat!” Trump told NBC News of the ad.
As for Lewinsky, the anti-bullying advocate seems to be bracing herself for the current presidential race.
“My narrative is tied to other people’s narratives, people on the public stage. And so my narrative gets pulled into things, based on what other people are doing, even if I do nothing,” she told The Guardian last month, refusing to answer whether she thinks Trump will drag her into the current election.
“I’m not going to answer that,” she replies. “How’s this? I’m affected by what happens on the world stage. But I don’t let it deter me. I’m incredibly grateful for the movement I have in my life right now.”