The Lewinsky Government
Jude Wanniski
October 12, 1998


Memo To: Website Fans, browsers, clients
From:  Jude Wanniski
Re:  Government by Intern

Between now and Tuesday, November 3, the government of the United States, the superpower of the planet, is being run by Monica Lewinsky. Not that she actually has any direct say in what the President and congressional Democrats decide to do on any matter requiring decision. Or that she has any direct say in what the congressional Republicans decide to do on any matter requiring decision. I mean that the Affair Lewinsky is now and has been for some months a central part of the power calculation of our government.

Yes, there has been a “Wag the Dog” discussion about the President’s decisions on whether or not to commit the nation’s military might to some foreign problem, which would “change the conversation” and cause the American people to rally around the Commander-in-Chief at the moment they are strolling to the polls on November 3. Let’s see, will be bomb Iraq? Will he bomb Serbia? Is there another target up his sleeve where he might rid the world from some fiendish terrorist with one cruise missile? The problem is we don’t know now if the President is going to bomb something that needs to be bombed or is going to bomb something that doesn’t need to be bombed, or not bomb something that needs to be bombed -- because of Monica. The nation and the world does not have a leader we can be sure is able to separate out the national interest and his own behind.

On the other hand, Monica has also determined the path the Republican Congress is treading. If it were not for her, and the chance the Affair will cause the electorate on November 3 to elect MORE GOP Senators and Representatives, the Republican Congress would have demanded a tax cut and gone to the wall to get one from the White House. It would have killed any chance the International Monetary Fund would get another $18 billion to destroy almost every economy it touches. (The Wall Street Journal gives the IMF credit for helping Argentina through a bad patch, but the Journal is much too generous, as the price the IMF exacted for its assistance has kept Argentina in the dumps.) It would have behaved like the government of the people, which is what Congress is all about. Instead, it crossed its fingers and held its breath that the people on Nov. 3 will vote against Clinton.

It isn’t clear how the Lewinsky government will work out. It is only clear the young intern has changed the history of the United States and the history of the world, and is in spirit even today at the levers of power of the U.S. government.