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Everyone has a quote that her life is defined by. My quote is “Never enter into a land war with Eurasia.”
One of our presidents will be defined by a quote he’d probably pay good money to forget: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
On this day in history, former President Bill Clinton held a press conference in the White House and denied allegations that he had intimate relations with Monica Lewinsky.
Lewinsky was an intern at the White House during Clinton’s first term as President. During her tenure, she entered into a relationship with Clinton. She told her friend Linda Tripp all the details regarding her relationship with the President, and Tripp secretly recorded the phone conversations between Lewinsky and Clinton.
When Tripp learned that Lewinsky had signed in affidavit in the Paula Jones case denying ever being in a relationship with Clinton, Tripp delivered the secret tapes to Kenneth Star.
Clinton was already undergoing investigation on other matters, such as the Whitewater scandal among others, and Star was the independent counsel for the case.
After receiving the tapes from Tripp, he widened the investigation to include possible perjury by Lewinsky. The scandal broke on Jan. 17 on the Drudge Report website. After clamor from the public and the press for an explanation, Clinton gave his best know sound bite and defining quote from his presidency: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
In the months following the outbreak of the story, Clinton was brought to trial for perjury. During the Paula Jones trial he denied engaging in sexual acts with Lewinsky; the tapes obviously negated his testimony. He was fined for giving false testimony and lost his license to practice law in Arkansas because of his perjury.
But the real storm was only on the horizon for President Clinton.
In December of 1998, impeachment proceedings began for Clinton. The Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, a current GOP presidential candidate, led the charge. Ironically, Gingrich was also having an affair during the trial. Clinton was officially tried for perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
He was acquitted of all counts and all guilty votes came from Republican senators, with only five Democratic representatives voting to impeach. Clinton rode out the storm and left office after his second term with no worse an approval rating than when he entered.
But his denial of having sexual relations with Lewinsky would change the idea of sex for young Americans forever.
Clinton’s denial that fellatio was a sexual act caused the Clinton-Lewinsky Effect has changed college students’ previous views of sex. In a study by the University of Kentucky, only 20 percent of the students surveyed considered oral-genital contact to be “sex.” This is roughly half the number of students who replied to similar “sex” studies in 1991 and 1999-2011.
Researchers believe Clinton’s denial has helped shape new definitions of sexual relations for young adults because many of the surveyed students were adolescents after the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and the hype contributed to the turning point of of ideas of oral-genital contact.