When Coleman eavesdrops on the three older men in the park talking in a negative and inappropriate way about the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal, Roth makes the connection of public morality between Coleman Silk and the ongoing “Lewinsky scandal.” Both Bill Clinton and Coleman Silk are more worried about being politically correct rather than being ethical. They both choose to engage in lie after lie due to the time period they were in which was filled with fear, lying, and a time period where political correctness was a major test of one’s morality.
Coleman is living a lie and it does not help that he is living multiple but it also surrounded by other lies as well as a country that is filled with controversy. Coleman is a black man passing as a white man and is also living his life as a certified Jewish person. The only true thing in his life is the woman in which he is having a love affair, and even she herself is living multiples lies. Faunia Farley lives behind a false identity, as a woman who is not only illiterate, but was sexually and physically assaulted by her stepfather and ex-husband, yet never comes forward about any of it. People and an environment in which no one is truthful about who they are and what they want to say, as everyone lies in fear, surround Coleman. Political correctness overpowers everyone’s morality as no one wants to say the wrong thing and be accused of something or say the wrong thing and offend somebody. The main reason that Coleman is fired from his job is because of the current age of political correctness that he is living in. If the country was not wrapped up in the “Lewinsky scandal,” then Coleman could have easily uttered the word “spooks” and not gotten in trouble; however, his own controversial relationship as well as the public one across the country causes Coleman to question himself and question everything going on around him.
The “Lewinsky Scandal” is a political sex scandal that took place between the former President Bill Clinton and the then 22-year old White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. This story emerged to the public in 1998 and eventually led to the impeachment of the President in 1998 by the United States House of Representatives. The two held a personal relationship for sometime but Lewinsky’s friend and colleague, Linda Tripp, who secretly recorded their telephone conversations throughout the scandal, eventually exposed it. Both Clinton and Lewinsky on various occasions denied accusations, even at one point swearing under oath that there was no sexual relationship going on between the two. Bill Clinton took the denial as far as a press conference in which he boldly stated that, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” even though months later he would admit to the American public that he did in fact engage in a secret and sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky (Citation: Clinton video). This scandal sparked the new age in which political correctness proved to be more important morality. Bill Clinton stated that he was not aware that things such as that, “he did not consider oral sex to be adultery,” and he was unfair that it could be subject to prosecution (Citation: Washington Post/Newsweek). Lewinsky was not a saint either, as she wanted to simply let the lie go and take a lie detector test in early 1998. Lewinsky made it known that she was, “willing to submit to a polygraph examination in exchange for complete immunity from prosecution,” meaning that it did matter to her if only Clinton was prosecuted or if the truth was ever found out, she just wanted to be immune, which in turn actually heightened the controversy and made the scandal worse (Citation: NY Times). Both Clinton and Lewinsky get caught up in trying to preserve their respective images both politically and socially and in turn they do the opposite and create a difficult atmosphere for someone like Coleman Silk who gets wrapped up public morality.
The Lewinsky Scandal sets in motion a domino effect of people losing their faith, becoming afraid of what to say and who to say it to, and truly testing everyone’s morality and integrity. This scandal was so pivotal and significant because it was a scandal that caused humiliation and disgrace to not just anyone, but to perhaps the largest politically figure in the country. The President stands as the political symbol for the nation and to be wrapped up in a large, public scandal destroys his image and destroys the faith that many citizens had in him as their leader. As Richard Posner says, public morality is, “the set of moral duties that is attached to an office or to an activity that is undertaken voluntarily,” and by violating this important moral duty, President Clinton lets down those who he repeatedly says are the most important: the American People (Citation: NY Times).
Coleman is very disturbed and surprised at the conversation the three men are having in the park because he sees a lot of the facts in that scandal present in his own life. Coleman lives in a world where lies surround him all the while most of his life is a lie and to be in the mindset he is, a very unstable one, in the midst of the Lewinsky scandal drives him mad. Coleman is going through very similar troubles that the soon to be impeached President Clinton is experiencing, as they both are dealing with their defying of public morality. Both men have been living lies for years and their disobedience towards public morality leads to their downfalls. Unfortunately, only one experiences a true downfall: Coleman Silk. After lie after lie, Bill Clinton eventually comes to terms with the scandal and admits to the affair and is able to eventually move on, while Coleman continues to let the lie grow and is not able to come to terms and admit the truth to those close to him. He thinks he is content living through a false identity.
Coleman Silk and the Lewinsky scandal go hand in hand, as they both represent the struggle within one’s self with public morality and all the feelings and actions that go along with it. Political correctness tests Coleman and he is subsequently fired and sees his life slowly fall apart. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky lie about their affair but ultimately the truth comes out and both most struggle with their own image and virtues. Roth makes a very accurate connection in The Human Stain between the “Lewinsky Scandal” and Coleman Silk, all the while wrapping in each individual’s duplicity towards themselves and the public.