Kids on Clinton; Monicagate Journalism 101

Kids on Clinton

Ever since the Presidential sex scandal became an unavoidable fact of life, some people have wondered if it has had a corrupting influence on children. To find out, the New York World interviewed kids in Central Park, Stuyvesant Square and Battery Park City, all with the permission of their parents. Judging by the interviews, the scandal seems not to have added anything to their knowledge of sex, but it has had the unsettling effect of making young children sound like junior commentators for CNBC.

The question we asked all of them was simple: Do you know why President Clinton is in trouble? “Because he had improper sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky,” answered a 10-year-old boy from Queens named Aditya. His mother was quick to help out: “No,” she said, “not at all! You know that’s perfectly legal.” The boy was quick to revise his answer: “Oh! He lied under oath!” he said, before adding some analysis: “If he did answer them legally, then I don’t think he should be in trouble. But if he did lie under oath, then it’s grounds for impeachment.” Tim Russert doesn’t do it any better. All interviews were tape-recorded. More answers follow:

· “I think he’s in trouble because, first of all, he should have told us in the first place whether or not he did have the sex scandal. The sex scandal is basically between Monica Lewinsky and President Clinton. Now, Hillary Clinton, as far as I know, is really teed off. I understand that he’s trying to patch things up with his family, but that hole that might be in his whole family’s heart might not ever be healed.”–Sean, 11, Queens

· “I know why! Uh, because … he was … stealing … money?”–Georgie, 5, Brooklyn

· “He was cheating to have an affair on his wife. Monica and Hillary should dump him.”–Alonzo, 12, Brooklyn

· “I heard about him on the news, but really I don’t know much because all I ever do is play with my toys and things like that.”–Joseph, 9, Manhattan

· “‘Cause he lied about Monica Lewinsky. I don’t really, um, ah, ’cause he lied about not kissing with the girl. He lied that he was not friends with the girl.”–Sanna, 6, Manhattan

· “It should be sexual harassment on him, but that’s no one else’s business. Only he should know that … She should be in trouble. She should have told them the same day. There’s a lot of people in the building like security that she could have told. She probably wanted it and let him, and now she’s trying to get him arrested. I think she wants money. Somebody’s probably paying her.” Who? “The Democrats. He did a lot for this country. He’s the best President. He traveled all the way to Africa. I’ve never seen the President travel all the way to Africa for no reason. They always stay in Washington, D.C.”–Nelson, 13, the Bronx

· “Well, because he had a relationship with Monica Lewinsky and he denied it in court and then he admitted it again, and everyone is forgiving them, but I don’t think they should. I think that he should be arrested for, like, rape and stuff because she said that he forced her to do it. I think that Bill Clinton should be put in jail.”–Christopher, 9, Brewster, N.Y.

–Deirdre Dolan

Journalism 101

“Ms. Lewinsky, these people said, told the panel that he intimately caressed her breasts and touched her genitals during several encounters inside the White House.”

– The New York Times , front page, Aug. 21

Former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky spoke at length about her sexual encounters with President Clinton in her second day of grand jury testimony, on Aug. 20. Details of any physical contact between the two are crucial to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s investigation of whether the President lied under oath during the Paula Corbin Jones sexual misconduct suit.

Wearing a skirt that came halfway down her thigh and frosty lipstick, Ms. Lewinsky, her hair slightly mussed, testified in a forthright manner for three and a half hours, according to people close to the case. These people said Ms. Lewinsky told the panel that Mr. Clinton intimately caressed her breasts and touched her genitals during several encounters.

The couple would meet most often in the Oval Office of the White House, said those with knowledge of the case. Slowly, slowly, the sources added, Ms. Lewinsky would unzip the President’s pants to reveal his penis early in the encounters.

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” the President said on at least one occasion, according to one person with knowledge of Ms. Lewinsky’s account. “Hush,” Ms. Lewinsky replied on at least one occasion, according to another source close to the case. Beyond the exact nature of Mr. Clinton’s relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, Mr. Starr has been investigating whether the President tried to obstruct justice and suborn perjury.

A lawyer who spoke not for attribution noted that the President had a “soft touch” at times. Apparently, he would slip his hand beneath Ms. Lewinsky’s blouse and make a swirling motion with his fingertips on her back before swiftly unhooking the strap of her brassiere, said the lawyer. Then, said one person who was present for the grand jury testimonies, the President would intimately caress the then-intern’s breasts while whispering various terms of endearment, such as “You’re adorable.” The two would allegedly engage in French kissing, one lawyer said, their hearts beating rapidly.

Long, full embraces accompanied the kissing, said more than one person connected to the investigation, with the President’s strong arms encircling Ms. Lewinsky’s sensuous form. In a speech delivered Aug. 17, Mr. Clinton admitted he had conducted a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that he called “not appropriate” and “wrong.” The Oval Office sessions were never strictly private, said well-placed sources. A naval guard stationed in the anteroom, more than one source noted, would sometimes peek in at the adulterous lovers.

Although prior reports have characterized the President as an inconsiderate sexual partner, lawyers close to the case said testimonies and interviews gathered by the independent counsel suggest he was tender but firm. The Presidential hands would sometimes behave almost rudely, said someone close to Ms. Lewinsky. However, it was a charming rudeness, one Government official said, the rudeness not of a callous lover but that of a “Spanish rogue who knows the tricks,” to use the official’s phrase.

Reaching under her skirt and devilishly slipping his fingers past the binding of her panties, the President, sources said, would ask in a plaintive voice, “Is this O.K.?” Ms. Lewinsky would answer, according to lawyers with knowledge of the testimonies, either “Yes! Yes!” or “Stop teasing!” The President would end the verbal outbursts by stopping up her mouth with more French kisses, sources said.

At this juncture, one source noted, Ms. Lewinsky would step backward, as if suddenly alarmed by something. In fact, she wasn’t alarmed at all, said another source, who added that Ms. Lewinsky was merely trying to tantalize the President. Playfully, the uninhibited Ms. Lewinsky would remove her blouse and let her unlatched brassiere fall to the Oval Office floor, one high-ranking official said, to reveal a heaving bosom. With a seductive wiggle, the official added, she would ease out of her skirt, letting it, too, fall to the Oval Office floor like so much trash.

Craftily neglecting to remove her high-heeled shoes, Ms. Lewinsky would gambol before the President, sources said. It was then, said a lawyer close to the case, that Mr. Clinton would touch her genitals. Ms. Lewinsky’s testimony came on a day when dozens of powerful American cruise missiles, launched at the President’s directive, destroyed terrorist targets in Afghanistan and the Sudan in retaliation for recent bombings of American embassies in East Africa.

Quickly kneeling down, Ms. Lewinsky would place the President’s penis in her mouth, said dozens of people with ties to the case. One source said the President would react by tugging the then-intern’s dark locks and moaning. Ms. Lewinsky, one Government official said, would now and then trace the outlines of his penis with the edges of her teeth. With what one official described as “a grim sexual determination,” Ms. Lewinsky would continue to perform the sex act, moving up and down, up and down, until the President would thrust his chin into the air while issuing spasmodic cries that apparently punctuated orgasm, those close to the case said. A Government source said the encounters would typically end with Ms. Lewinsky gazing upward, her lipstick smeared, as the President thanked her profusely.

Ms. Lewinsky is not expected to testify again in the case, said a source close to Mr. Starr’s office. This same source added that Mr. Clinton could be called back to give investigators “a more complete picture” of the events in question.

–Jim Windolf