When the Lewinsky story broke in Jan, it did with a vengeance, a hysterical media firestorm unseen in modern times. News cycles were compressed into hours: scandal sheet Internet magazines published rumors, which where then run by major newspaper Internet editions, then exploded onto radio and TV- fueling insane competition. There was no time for verifications or facts checking. Within the first 24 hrs, both George Stephanopolous (Clinton's campaign and political strategist) and Leon Panetta (his former chief of staff) said, "If this is true, he should resign". Coming from his closest allies and friends, this was a shot to the solar plexus and an uppercut to the chin: it was stunning, utterly devastating, and... Mr. Clinton..... panicked. That's what led him to issue his famous finger wagging denial. It was stupid, but it was done under spectacular duress, and actually.. it was none of anyones' business but Hillary's. An affair, by definition, is a lie. Confronted, people deny it- automatically.
More curious is the reasons for Stephanopolous's and Panetta's seeming betrayal of the man who'd made him (in Steph's case). Steph was just trying to start a career as a media pundit- an insider to provide pithy comments and analysis for TV, the more outrageous the better. A career that could pay $1 million/year for just showing up. But it was important to declare his independence from his boss and mentor and show he could be as outrageous as the next clown: what better way than to publicly kick him in the privates (there must have been alot of accumulated resentment from Clinton's supposed tirades). However treacherous, it was a financial decision. Now one has to listen to him pontificate about the emptiness of a White House spin machine that he largely created, and attack Salon editor David Talbot as a bottom feeder for publishing Henry Hyde's 4 year affair.
Panetta had totally different motives. Monica first worked in his White House office as an intern and he probably came to feel fatherly towards her: a flaky, troubled, but sometimes endearing young woman. That left him feeling angry + betrayed by Mr. Clinton when their affair came out. He has said that he didn't know who she was, which makes everything suspect: Monica was not the type to be ignored.
Yes, Mr. Clinton lied to our faces. Politicians do lie. A lot. Mr. Clinton is a great politician and that is one facet of the art of being a politician. But the bottom line is we had no right whatsoever to ask him that question! Get over it. Despite his philandering and supposed immorality, Mr. Clinton's has kept his marriage together for a quarter century (hear that Newt, Dole, et. al) and raised a fine poised daughter in a savage goldfish bowl. These smarmy moralizing Republicans and Democrats (Lieberman, Feinstein, Kerry) make me sick. Hypocrisy is a more grievious form of lying and it's legions of practitioners have no sense of shame. If they could hold up as well under a 4 year and $40 million hounding by a special persecutor... sign right up. If Mr. Clinton is driven out of office or crippled, they won't have much choice. The politics of smear and trash will come to them. Live by the sword....