1995: The year the future began
It’s mid-August, almost exactly 20 years since Bill Clinton’s petulant, 4½ minute speech in which he conceded to having had an “improper” sexual relationship with a former White House intern 27 years his junior.
The run-up to the anniversary has been accompanied by fresh reminders of the sex-and-lies scandal that resulted in Clinton’s impeachment and nearly cost him the presidency. A reckoning for his misconduct grinds on, and is even somewhat surprising.
Last week, the New Hampshire Democratic party announced that Clinton’s name has been removed from the party’s annual fundraising event, which henceforth is to be called the Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner.
New Hampshire is where presidential candidate Bill Clinton, then dogged by news reports of a prolonged affair with a nightclub singer and by suspicions about how he avoided military service during the Vietnam War, mounted a primary election comeback in February 1992, a state the New York Times has said is “hallowed ground for the Clintons.”
The comeback in New Hampshire opened a path for Clinton to win the White House.
Excising his name from association with the New Hampshire fundraiser had been in the works for months, and was motivated by enduring controversy surrounding his sexual dalliance with the former intern, Monica Lewinsky. The rise of the #MeToo movement, which seeks to call out case of sexual harassment by prominent men, has directed renewed attention to the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, which began in November 1995, during a partial shutdown of the federal government.
He carried on the clandestine dalliance intermittently, until March 1997. Ten months later, news of the affair burst into the public domain amid word that Clinton was being investigated for perjury and obstruction of justice, stemming from the deposition he gave in January 1998 in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Paula Jones.
Clinton vigorously denied having had sexual relations with Lewinsky until DNA evidence, extracted from small drops of semen on a blue dress Lewinsky had worn on a visit to the White House in February 1997, forced him to change his story.
He did so, defiantly, in an angry speech from the White House on August 17, 1998, hours after being questioned under oath by federal prosecutors working for independent counsel Kenneth Starr.
“I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression,” Clinton said in the speech. “I misled people, including even my wife.”
In December 1998, Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted two months later at trial before the U.S. Senate.
Clinton has been little heard from since early June, when a publicity tour to promote a novel he wrote with James Patterson turned heated and prickly, amid questions whether he had adequately shown remorse for the Lewinsky affair.
The Boston Herald has noted that of late Clinton “seems to have gone underground.
“There is no talk of his getting out on the campaign trail for the Democrats” in this year’s mid-term elections.
Of course not.
He’s too toxic.
More from The 1995 Blog: