There was something awkward about Rosario Dawson’s mention of Monica Lewinsky at a recent Feel The Bern event. One can almost imagine the scene that led up to it. Bernie at the head of the table in a room feng shui’d perfectly so that the triple mocha lattes and the chairs hand-made by a tribe of atheists living near Dhaka could arouse the inner #BlackLivesMatter hiding in even the most denying of climate change denying hearts. “I know”, someone tweeted across the room. And the idea was born:
Deploy the Monica! Even better, get a black woman to do it!
No doubt the Sanders inner circle thought it would be yuge. As a black woman, Rosario Dawson was the perfect attack vehicle. How could Madame Secretary possibly challenge the sacrosanct identities of blackness and womanhood. And Monica Lewinsky? Clintons. Scandals. Scandals. Clintons, Get it?
Dawson said, “we are literally under attack for not just supporting the other candidate. Now I’m with Monica Lewinsky with this [sic], bullying is bad”.
For the assembled Sandersistas it was perfect. “Bullying is bad”. It’s something they’ve known all their lives. The safe-zone-loving, everybody-gets-a-trophy-generation learned bullying was bad before they ever learned about racism, rising sea levels, white privilege, and all the other things one needs to know about in order to lead a successful life in our increasingly competitive and interconnected Gaia.
Thing is, Dawson could have said “…now I’m with Cletus The Slack Jawed Yokel, bullying is bad”. Or, “…now I’m with Chewbacca, bullying is bad”. The name “Monica Lewinsky” doesn’t mean a whole lot to the vast majority of the Sanders base.
The youngest Sanders voters were born in 1998. To put this in perspective, in 1998 Will Smith was “Getting Jiggy With It”, Saving Private Ryan was a new movie, adults watched Dharma and Greg on TV, and little kids were mesmerized by The Teletubbies. 1998 was also the year George Michael set bathroom equality back two decades when he was arrested for doing things in a public restroom bathroom rights activists tell us no one would ever do in a public restroom. In 1998, today’s eighteen year olds were born.
Twenty-nine year old Sanders supporters were ten or eleven when the Lewinsky scandal and the subsequent impeachment trial that followed went down.
Most of Sanders millennial supporters have no recollection of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. It’s a thing that happened a long time ago they’ve read about in memes on social media. Not to mention, it’s not that big of deal for them since Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky didn’t do, well you know, and anyway whose right is it to judge the choices she made with her body. “Keep your hands off Monica’s uterus!”, could be their battle cry.
The few Sandersistas that do remember the Lewinsky scandal only do so in a fragmented, disjointed sort of way. These are people that have no awareness of the Cold War, the first Gulf War and Operations Northern and Southern Watch. They remember “Blackhawk Down” as a movie but not as a shocking real-world event broadcast on TV around the globe. Their political knowledge is informed by people like Stephen Colbert, and bookended by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. An anemic economy for them is the norm. And somewhere in all that congealed cognitive mush are bits and pieces of the Lewinsky scandal.
That’s why Dawson’s attack missed it’s mark.
Perhaps that’s the problem with running a jurassic socialist from Vermont for President. He’s simply out of touch with the pulse of those that support him. Sure, they gather by the dozens whenever Bernie comes to town – just like those on welfare do whenever EBT cards or government checks are being doled out. Their support for Bernie is based solely on the handouts they think he’s going to give them. When he puts a surrogate like Rosario Dawson out there to talk ancient history, a collective “meh” issues forth from their number.