Bill and Hillary Clinton were together since their paths first crossed when both of them were in their early 20s – decades before either of them would see any political power. Story has it, Bill and Hillary were a cliched tale of a “love at first sign” relationship. The two met at the library at Yale University while they were studying towards their legal degrees. After exchanging a few looks the two got introduced and started dating almost immediately and the rest is history.
About 20 years after the lovebirds wed, Bill was elected into the oval office where he served two terms between 1993 and 2001. His time as president was quite eventful, but this article will focus on what is (unfortunately for him) the most memorable event of his presidency – the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the mid-90s, then you’re well aware of the affair that went down (pun intended) between Bill and Monica. Long story short, the White House hired Monica Lewinsky, a recent college graduate, to work as an intern alongside the President’s staff. While working in the White House, Monica began to develop a “personal” relationship with president Clinton, which eventually turned sexual. Understandably, Monica wanted to share her experiences with who she thought was a close friend, but her confidant ended up recording all of their phone conversations and eventually leaking them to the press.
Although Bill tried his best to deny the allegations at first, the affair was somewhat of an open secret among White House staffers. In fact, a vast majority of the White House was aware of what was going on months (if not years) before the scandal made national news. Once the media frenzy did break out, Hillary’s temper was notoriously short, which is understandable considering her position.
According to a book by White House reporter Kate Andersen Brower, the mood in the White House changed significantly once the story began to populate the media. A maid reports that “you could feel the sadness” in the family’s private living quarters. Relations were so tense, that Hillary often missed appointments and made Bill sleep on a couch in their study – likely making him the first president to be sent to the doghouse for months on end.
Other employees remember Hilary becoming very tense. According to one storeroom manager, Hillary was so overwhelmed with the scandal, that “if you said something [wrong] she would snap.” Despite the devastating fallout, however, Hillary remained by Bill’s side, and the two are still together to this day. Many questioned her judgment, but Bill and Hillary were a powerful team, their politics were their legacy so Hillary decided to tough it out. Chances are that if she left him in 1998, it would likely be the end of his presidency and the blame would be shifted to her.
In her memoir, Hillary writes that the Lewinsky scandal was a source of great turmoil for her and their then 18-year-old daughter. “These were terrible moments for all of us. I didn’t know whether our marriage could — or should — survive such a stinging betrayal, but I knew I had to work through my feelings carefully, on my own timetable.”
As devastating as the scandal was, it ironically ended up benefiting Hillary in the long term. Years after the fallout, the public opinion on Hillary has shifted, and many now consider her “strong, intelligent, brave, and loyal.” These features, along with her strong political ambitions eventually led to her securing the Democratic nomination, putting her in the running to be the first ever female president of the United States.