The XX Factor

Monica Lewinsky Reportedly Gets a $12 Million Book Deal, and We Still Feel Bad for Her

Monica Lewinsky in 2006

Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images for Rodale.

Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern whose affair with then-President Bill Clinton paralyzed the nation, has been shopping a memoir for several weeks, and according to the New York Post, she has apparently sold it for $12 million to an unnamed publisher. I suppose I could be disappointed that we’re still so trash-obsessed that Lewinsky, who already cooperated with celebrity gossipmonger Andrew Morton for a 1999 book called Monica’s Storycan command an advance that knocks at the door of the $15 million one Clinton himself pulled down for his autobiography, My Life. I could be depressed for a publishing industry that has so few ideas that it’s going back to the same old well. But mostly I feel bad for Monica Lewinsky.

Right, OK, she’s making $12 million. But I do pity a woman who, at 39, has apparently reconciled herself to the idea that she’s never going to be someone other than the woman who gave a blow job to the president of the United States. The hook for Lewinsky’s book is reportedly going to be letters she sent to Clinton that apparently she retained copies of and that apparently reveal that Clinton complained about his sex life with Hillary. None of this is surprising or even terribly interesting.

For all the gossip about Bill’s post-presidency romps, he’s somehow transcended the affair. Why else would we all have passed along these images of Hillary lovingly watching him speak at this year’s Democratic National Convention or tweeted our renewed love for him? But stories about Bill Clinton are all that Monica Lewinsky has to sell, and that’s not necessarily her fault. On the occasion of Lewinsky receiving her master’s from the London School of Economics in late 2006, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote about the cruelty of what befell Lewinsky in the wake of the scandal. She had become, he noted, “a branded woman, not an adulterer but something even worse—a girl toy, a trivial thing, a punch line.” Clinton got a chance to reinvent his image, but Lewinsky’s been denied that chance at every turn. The Post talked to a “sympathetic,” but of course unnamed, friend of Lewinsky’s who told the paper, “No one will hire her and she can’t get a job because of Clinton … She needs to make money somehow.”

This is all anyone will be interested in from her for the rest of her life.