Except she pretty much wasn’t: By today, Maureen Dowd actually had an excuse for writing about Miss Lewinsky.
Inevitably, she devotes her whole column to the subject, recalling the time she herself was wronged:
DOWD (5/7/14): The last time I encountered Monica was at the Bombay Club, a restaurant nestled between my office and the White House. It was at the height of the impeachment madness and she was drinking a Cosmo at a table with her family. After requesting that the piano player play “Send in the Clowns,” she leaned in with me, demanding to know why I wrote such “scathing” pieces about her.From that, you might have thought Dowd was unfairly accused on that evening long ago. Assuming that Dowd was lying again, we decided to fire up the Nexis and check it out.
My columns targeted the panting Peeping Tom Ken Starr and the Clintons and their henchmen, for their wicked attempt to protect the First Couple’s political viability by smearing the intern as a nutty and slutty stalker. I did think Monica could skip posing for cheesecake photos in Vanity Fair while in the middle of a plea bargain. But I felt sorry for her.
At the time in question, had Dowd been writing “scathing” pieces about Miss Lewinsky? Well yes, she pretty much had!
Dowd mentioned the encounter with Miss Lewinsky in her June 17, 1998 column. Had “scathing” columns preceded their meeting?
Headline included, try this for size. Does it sound like Dowd felt sorry for Miss Lewinsky?
DOWD (5/31/98): Monica's Frowny Face“Also, cannoli” meant that Miss Lewinsky was fat. The piece got no better from there.
Poor little Monica.
On top of all the other indignities she has suffered during her career as White House gofer and scandal babe, she had to spend hours on Thursday at the F.B.I. field office in Los Angeles. She had to write down in longhand whatever came into her head. The 24-year-old must have felt like Bart Simpson, forced by Schoolmaster Starr to stay after class and copy out the same sentence a hundred times on the blackboard.
The prosecutor needed a handwriting sample. Or he pretended to need a handwriting sample, so he could scare the poor girl into thinking he is about to indict her unless she starts spilling the cat out of the beans, as Carmen Miranda used to say. He no doubt wants her penmanship to compare it to the lovey-dovey stuff Monica was messengering the President from the Pentagon.
You'll never believe this, but a copy of Monica's scribbles has fallen into my hot little hands. Her stream-of-consciousness ramblings are on F.B.I. letterhead—in a girlish scrawl, with loopy letters, little hearts and breathless punctuation. Here's what she wrote:
Monica Clinton. Monica Lewinsky Clinton. Monica Lewinsky Rodham Clinton. Mrs. Big Creep. (Frowny face.) First Lady Monica. (Smiley face.) Menu for MY Italian State Dinner: Spaghetti Carbonara. Tiramisu. Spumoni. Table placement: Me between Leonardo DiCaprio & John Travolta. Also, cannoli.
On June 10 (“Feathered and Tarred”), Dowd trashed Miss Lewinsky along with both her parents. One example:
“It appears that there’s one thing Monica has immunity from: brains.”
On June 14, Dowd discussed “what a bizarre dad Bernard Lewinsky was.”
Were these columns “scathing?” Sort of! And back in April, Dowd had written what follows, musing about Kenneth Starr’s attempts to obtain records of Miss Lewinsky’s book purchases.
In this piece, Dowd did what came naturally to a top scribe. She wrote about what was rumored:
DOWD (4/12/98): It is rumored that the two masterpieces that interest Mr. Starr because he thinks Ms. Lewinsky might have bestowed them on Mr. Clinton are "Vox," a smarmy novel about phone sex by Nicholson Baker, and "The Notebook," a syrupy Southern tear-jerker about eternal love by Nicholas Sparks.Does it sound like Dowd felt sorry for Miss Lewinsky? For ourselves, we’d say that Miss Lewinsky was pretty much right in 1998, and that Dowd is pretty much lying again today.
Ms. Lewinsky's choice of "The Notebook" seems to buttress the testimony of her friends who said she was hopelessly smitten with the Big He, as she and Linda Tripp referred to Mr. Clinton on the notorious tapes.
It is easy to see why Monica was so taken with the sappy story of Allie and Noah, star-crossed lovers whose Romeo-and-Juliet saga spans 50 years. A review in The Mount Airy Gazette called it "a book for everyone who has ever loved or been loved, or dreamed of loving madly, truly, deeply. . . . even the most jaded reader will be convinced that everlasting love exists."
With her high school romantic longings, Monica must have loved lines like, "She was the one he could spend the rest of his life looking for but never find again," or this one, which could have been a caption for those rope-line clinches: "She saw in his eyes that he knew she was thinking about him. She liked the fact that he knew it, and she hoped he had been thinking about her as well."
Worst of all, Dowd won the Pulitzer Prize for this big mountain of Monica garbage. In such ways, the celebrity press corps revealed its eternal values.