'Kathy, Kathy, What We Need Here Is Full Frontal Victimhood'

Robert Scheer is a Times contributing editor. E-mail: rscheer@aol.com

Scene 1 of a totally fictional account of how an agent's conversation with Kathleen Willey might have gone:

"Kathy, baby, hear what I'm saying, it's not going to be easy to get $300,000 from a book publisher. Forget those stories about Linda, Paula and Monica. They don't just throw $300,000 away. Yes, I know that's how much you need to cover your debts. And I'll grant you your new story about touching the president's thing is a lot more dramatic than the line about maybe you kissed on the lips, which you almost forgot to say until Paula Jones' lawyers prompted you. But still, how do you sustain a whole book on what you experienced on the back of your hand for maybe 20 seconds and you don't even remember which hand? It just doesn't convey the horror of oral sex, if you get my drift. Is it too late to add that?

"What we need here is full frontal victimhood. You're the bereaved widow, even though you didn't know you were when you were with the president, but no one will notice. A bereaved widow, the president, evil incarnate, taking advantage of your grief-to-be. That's drama! That's a package I could sell big time.

"Now, this is not automatic. You're coming in late and you'll have to explain why your revulsion is being expressed only now with Kenneth Starr breathing down your back. Something about repressed memory.

"Another problem is your friend who said you asked her to support you in making the whole thing up. Some friend, another Linda Tripp if you ask me. Speaking of Tripp, she's a bigger problem because she has repeated so many times that you came out of the office smiling and happy. Smiling and happy doesn't suggest distraught but this negative can be turned into a positive, which is why I'm here. See, you're the victim and when you're smiling, it's even bigger proof of how much you're suffering inside. But if you have to ever smile again, make it a very wan smile--you can do wan, I hope; wan is always good, it's vulnerable.

"Now, put all that suffering on display at the one shrine of truth that people in this country respect. What shrine? You have to ask? '60 Minutes'! That's what they do, they're professionals, nobody does victimhood better. If we're lucky, we'll get Ed Bradley, who can be soft and concerned. Who could not believe him if he's on your side? Do all that and we're talking a lot more that $300,000. We're talking movie."

Scene 2: "You did it big time, baby, highest ratings of the year for '60 Minutes,' the best victim they ever had. Imagine! Patricia Ireland and Newt Gingrich, both saying you were credible, and Ireland's talking not just harassment, but assault. I don't need to tell you how good assault is. To tell you the truth, I didn't use it myself because I thought that would be going over the top. Sometimes I don't think big enough, we all have that problem.

"To be honest, I was afraid when you came on so strong about the president kissing you on the lips, since in the Paula Jones deposition you couldn't even remember being kissed, but Bradley never noticed the contradiction. And was he gold or what? That bit about did the president's hand ever graze your breast? What a word, 'graze,' I should've thought of that. Bradley was like your drama coach and your performance had everything--pathos, vulnerability. You bet your booty we're talking movie now."

Scene 3: "Kathy, baby, why didn't you tell me about all of those letters and calls to the White House? I hate to be blindsided. 'Fondly, Kathleen.' Is that the language of a bereaved widow whose trust has been violated? And it doesn't look good for you the next month and even four years later to be signing letters to the man who assaulted you, calling yourself his 'No. 1 fan.'

"It's not going to be easy explaining why you would write, 'Take heart in knowing that your No. 1 fan thinks of you every day.' Asking him to make you an ambassador, you without a college degree, I can maybe understand. But why would you invite such a loathsome man to your kid's engagement party? Or put in writing, 'I appreciate all that you have done to help me,' and how 'great' Clinton is for the country?

"Kathy, Kathy, this is not good no matter how you look at it."

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