As the reckoning over sexual abuse finally reaches Bill Clinton, with handwringing by some of his former defenders in the press and in politics, one Clinton White House veteran is following developments with particular interest—and a large measure of skepticism.
“It’s a day late, and it’s a dollar short,” says Linda Tripp, who, 20 years ago, was thrust into the center of the sex scandal that led to Clinton’s impeachment. It was Tripp who revealed the president’s sexual relationship with a 21-year-old White House intern and, for her troubles, was painted as the villain of the sordid episode.
Tripp has a quiet life in Northern Virginia horse country, avoiding the public attention that was so unwelcome in the late 1990s. But the unending flow of headlines about the bad behavior of powerful men, she says, “is forcing me to relive a lot of it.” She’s unconvinced by recent calls in the press for Clinton’s deeds to be reconsidered in a more critical light. “They have nothing to lose, and this is now permissible,” she says. “The fact that the Clintons are dead in the water gives [the media] tacit approval to act like human beings. . . . It’s disingenuous.”