The people said: 'We want Monica!'


SAN FRANCISCO -- It seems like a century ago we had that other interminable trial of the century.

My wife was glued to every word of Marcia Clark and Johnnie Cochran. She watched gloves fail to fit and a jury acquit.

She hasn't been following the current trial of the century at all. "I don't do politics," she said. "I do lurid."

Debby is representative of the American people, unlike her husband, who is fascinated at watching the ship of state go down with more idiocy and pomposity than James Cameron put into his doomed ocean liner.

If Monica Lewinsky's testimony is aired, will Debby watch?

"I'll watch," she said immediately. "It'll be fun to match the voice to the face. Didn't we hear her taped conversations? But we didn't see her lips moving."

Please insert your own joke here, because I won't.

I actually admire Ms. Lewinsky, the most famous and incompletely understood young woman in the world.

To paraphrase House impeachment prosecutor Bill McCollum, a Florida Republican, I hope to look into her eyes during Senate testimony so I can more completely understand her.

Unlike some House prosecutors, I plan not to have dirty thoughts.

Why do I admire Ms. Lewinsky? For one thing, I liked some of her humor in the tapes made by her evil turncoat fake friend, Linda Tripp. At one point Ms. Lewinsky told Ms. Tripp that President Clinton had said he wouldn't have gotten involved with her if he had known what kind of person she was.

"[Expletive] him and the little motorcade he rode in on," Ms. Lewinsky said.

Score one for the intern.

Mainly I admire Ms. Lewinsky because if I were in her place, I would have committed suicide two days after my name became a joke, or after the 100th airing of the hugging-in-the-beret tape -- whichever came first.

It's hard enough to grow up with weird parents in a 90210ish ZIP code. It must be hell on a young brain to have a president, and then an entire nation, go dysfunctional over you.

How would you like to be the most famous woman in the world, and for that?

Ms. Lewinsky has gumption just to keep sneaking past reporters to go clubbing and drinking Cosmopolitans like any upper-middle-class young woman who didn't have an affair with the president -- if there are any.

Unfair jabs

She gets picked on for trivial and sexist things, like her designer-logo headgear, her old-fashioned figure and her big hair.

"It's hair some of us with skinny hair would like," my wife said.

Besides, it's tasteful Brentwood big hair, not the double-wide big hair Mr. Clinton usually favors.

Ms. Lewinsky is a good-looking woman, and most of the people who make jokes about her looks should do so well.

Ms. Lewinsky is a Rubenesque Rorschach for Americans. We see in her what we want. She can represent the good girl, the bad girl, the stalker or the seduced. Whatever she is, she's another celebrity with a book deal. She's no victim. Readers will be.

A group of young feminists recently wrote an essay for the Nation magazine saying Ms. Lewinsky was a model independent woman, who did what she wanted with her body and an older man in a position of power.

My wife, being sane, is reserving judgment.

"I hope to be impressed by her honesty and composure," she said. "We all want her not to be a bimbo."

Recently I looked up "bimbo" in my dictionary of slang, and discovered that at the beginning of the century it also applied to men. We ought to revive that sense of the word.

Bubba is the bimbo here.

Mr. Clinton can parade around the country like a respectable Republican, promising to build Star Wars missile defense systems and save Social Security by investing it in

Ms. Lewinsky can't defend herself. Yet.

When the Tripp tapes were played in November, reporters delighted in making fun of Ms. Lewinsky's speech, commenting on her whininess, the extent of her vocabulary and all of her "likes."

Like all kids don't use them.

Gotta love it

"She will be different in front of an audience," my wife said. "I'm sure I'm just as hesitant in phone conversations.

"She'll speak differently in front of the panel, or whatever they're calling themselves -- the impeachers."

You have to love it. Debby is so willfully ignorant of the invent-the-rules, Calvinball impeachment trial that she doesn't know that right-wing congressmen have renamed themselves "impeachment managers."

Everyone knows the important moniker, though, and bring her on.

"Oh, God, the drama," Debby said. "We have no control over what she says. It'll be like what -- football? -- not a play where you know what words she'll use.

"Kick this thing back up to the level of O. J.," Debby said. "They'd better televise it."

I agree. What else is the point of our entire culture right now?

Rob Morse is a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner.

Pub Date: 2/02/99

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