And Georgie makes three

You all remember George Stephanopoulos, the dark-haired handsome young kid who was once Bill Clinton’s right-hand man. And who can forget Monica Lewinsky, the dark-haired vixen who also once gave Clinton a hand?

Stephanopoulos and La Lewinsky have a lot in common. They have both recently written books, the former being All Too Human: A Political Education, and the latter being, of course, Monica’s Story, the non-grand juried version of her famous love affair (ghost-written by Princess Diana biographer Andrew Morton).

Both Stephanopoulos and Lewinsky had unparalleled access to the Oval Office. They both graduated from college armed with unemployable degrees. George’s father wanted him to go to law school; Monica talks now of doing the same. But back then, neither one knew what they wanted to do, so they set off for Washington, D.C.

Bill Clinton took a fancy to both of them. Both were typical of the White House which has often been criticized as an administration with "too many kids in it."

Both George and Monica were in love with Clinton, George loving him as a "president," Monica loving him as a "man." Neither one, at various points in their respective relationships with the president, could keep their mouths shut.

Finally, at various points in their respective relationships with Clinton, both Stephanopoulos and Lewinsky end up on analysts’ couches – left alone to sort out their bout with psychic agony and figure out why they got involved with the man from Hope in the first place.

The villain in this Freudian ménage à trois is Clinton. Remember the "Seinfeld" episode where George Costanza started dating a woman who looked remarkably like Jerry, and was angst-ridden when he realized he was attracted to a woman who looked just like his best male friend? Stephanopoulos and Monica must have digested this episode with some fascination as a mirror of their own sorry lives.

Sadly, both of them felt compelled to write about the 15 minutes of fame which followed after they hitched their wagons to Clinton’s star.

In Monica’s case, the star exploded because of Ken Starr. For Stephanopoulos, it was Dick Morris, of call girl-pollster fame.

In his memoir, Stephanopoulos believes and characterizes himself as "being Clintonologist in chief – Need to know what’s going on or advice on what to do? Come see me – "

Ironically, Stephanopoulos apparently didn’t know that in November 1995, during the first government shutdown and the night of La Lewinsky’s famous thong dance, Clinton was alone in Stephanopoulos’ office when he called Monica in and said to her, "Come into the back office," as Lewinsky recalls.

Stephanopoulos must have been busy at a meeting plotting against that vast right-wing conspiracy, because as Monica writes, about three hours later, after that first post-thong kiss, Clinton tells her to meet him again in "George’s office," and "in Stephanopoulos’s inner office ... in the intensity of the moment, the encounter had become a good deal more intimate, their clothing unbuttoned, their hands exploring each other."

How did the Clintonologist in chief miss that one?

Stephanopoulos recounts stories of his first meeting with Clinton; how and why he joined the 1992 campaign; of "bimbo eruptions," the draft and not inhaling; and how after victory he joined the White House staff, first as communications director, then as senior adviser. Then there were the continuous debacles: Nannygate, Supreme Court wannabe Mario Cuomo, health care, welfare reform, the balanced budget brouhaha and Stephanopoulos’ cooperation with Bob Woodward for Woodward’s book, The Agenda, which detailed the failure of Clinton’s 1992 campaign promise to cut taxes.

Just like Monica, who constantly tortured herself with anxiety and depression over why Clinton didn’t call when he promised to, or if even he really knew her name, Stephanopoulos absorbs and internalizes the blame for everything except Vince Foster’s suicide. To hear Stephanopoulos tell it, everything pre-Dick Morris was his fault, not Clinton’s.

Lewinsky, Stephanopoulos and Clinton were also mind game players par excellence when they had tiffs, real or imagined. According to Monica, when Clinton ignored her she "would feign indifference."

According to Stephanopoulos: "The worst of all was the silent scream ... He wouldn’t automatically turn to me to gauge my reaction ... he wouldn’t stop by, he wouldn’t call. And worst of all he wouldn’t mention what had made him so mad – because it was me."

Yikes. Is it any wonder that by State of the Union speech night, 1995, Stephanopoulos concludes "the whole White House had become "dysfunctional"?

It is in their conclusions that Stephanopoulos and Lewinsky part commonality. "Now I watched from far away ... wondering what might have been – if only this president had been a better man," says Stephanopoulos.

"As she admits, compared to how she used to see him as a man and a president, she now sees him as all politician, all of the time," summarizes Morton for Lewinsky.

The moral of the stories? There’s another "Seinfeld" episode, where Jerry meets a woman who is just like him – initials and all – and he decides he wants to marry her because all his life he’s been "looking for himself." By the end of the episode, Jerry and the woman J.S. break up and Jerry explains, "I can’t marry her – I hate myself."

Stephanopoulos, Lewinsky and Clinton exceed even Seinfeld and his friends as poster children for the self-absorbed and narcissistic.

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