Ah, wasted youth

As the old saying goes, time does have a way of healing most wounds, making apologies easier.
Softened by his death, the accolades accorded to former president Gerald Ford bear little resemblance to the barbs thrown his way during his presidency 30 years ago.  Even the comedian Chevy Chase, who opened each segment of Saturday Night Live mocking Ford tripping over himself standing still, acknowledged Ford's gracefulness as an outstanding athlete as well as having a sense of humor.

And then there is Monica Lewinsky.  Even now, more than 10 years after her uh, public exposure, the name still evokes smirks. She is still considered a joke.  But the very real, very much alive Ms. Lewinsky, now older and perhaps wiser, has recently received a Master's degree from the London School of Economics. 

Perhaps, suggests Richard Cohen, in an amazingly compassionate column, the time has come to treat Ms. Lewinsky fairly by understanding her youthful foibles were just that, youthful foibles.  Most of us are embarrassed by some of our youthful behavior; perhaps we still nurse a regret or two about the fixed past.  But beyond a few people ours are relatively private, usually forgotten.   As for Ms. Lewinsky, just about everyone in this country over the age of 10 is aware of her earlier antics.  And if they're not, eventually they will. 

Bill Clinton has metamorphosed into a world leader, husband of a senator/wannabe president. But what about Monica Lewinsky? What is her future? Cohen sensitively asks.
Where is the man for her? Where is the guy brave enough, strong enough, admirable enough to take her as his wife, to suffer the slings and arrows of her outrageous fortune -- to say to the world (for it would be the entire world) that he loves this woman who will always be an asterisk in American history. I hope there is such a guy out there. It would be nice. It would be fair.
Yes, that would be nice.  I hope it happens.

He continues, asking the same of the media, the public.
It would be nice, too, and fair, also, if Lewinsky were treated by the media as it would treat a man. What's astounding is the level of sexism applied to her, as if the wave of the women's movement broke over a new generation of journalists and not a drop fell on any of them. Where, pray tell, is the man who is remembered just for sex? Where is the guy who is the constant joke for something he did in his sexually wanton youth? Maybe here and there some preacher, but in those cases the real subject matter is not sex but hypocrisy. Other than those, no names come to mind.
Ironically the feminists, who normally would have been the first to scream "sexual harassment," were unnaturally quiet regarding the seamy side of their feminist idol Bill Clinton; none defended Ms. Lewinsky. Indeed some joined the mocking chorus, blaming her. I hope they'll also be more sympathetic.

And as for those contemporary very public, youths misbehaving--yes, Ms. Spears, yes, Ms. Hilton--they too will grow older, maybe more discreet succeeded by another generation of youthful stars publicly cavorting.  Maybe their generation of private peers will be as forgiving of them as they will be of their own youthful selves. 

And hopefully all of us won't do too much damage on the road to maturity.