Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Linda Tripp

Linda Rose Carotenuto (she took her first husband Bruce M. Tripp's surname when they married in 1971) graduated from Hanover Park High School (home of the Hornets) in East Hanover, New Jersey in 1968. Ironically, the "pet peeve" she cites in her senior yearbook entry is a "certain fair-weather friend." According to Jeffrey Toobin's book on the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky saga, A Vast Conspiracy, Linda's adolescence, like Lewinsky's, was marred by the divorce of her parents. Her father, a high school teacher, had an affair with a co-worker which caused the break-up of the marriage. A year after her graduation from Hanover High, Linda was arrested for allegedly stealing cash and a watch from a Greenwood Lake, New York hotel room. When the arrest was publicized during the height of the Clinton scandal, Tripp's lawyer stated that his client was "set up" and that the charges against her had been subsequently dropped. However, according to the Smoking Gun, Tripp neglected to disclose the arrest on a 1987 Defense Department security clearance form.

It was, of course, her government secretarial jobs that allowed Ms. Tripp to meet President Clinton and, later, Monica Lewinsky. Tripp, divorced by the time she was working in the Clinton White House (she was seated just outside the office of George Stephanopoulos), became disgusted by the randy behavior of the president. In Ken Gormley's definitive account of the Clinton impeachment, The Death of American Virtue, Tripp claims that the president's adulterous liaisons in the White House were "common knowledge." Tripp was soon moved "upstairs" to work in the White House Counsel's office of Bernie Nussbaum. The impetus for this move, as recounted in Gormley's book, and perceived by Tripp, was that first lady Hillary Clinton wanted to remove temptation from her husband. Tripp, perhaps realizing the improbablity of this assertion, is quoted by Gormely as explaining: "In 1993 I looked significantly different than you've ever seen me... I was very tiny. I had long blond hair." Regardless of her appearance, Tripp, according to Gormley, was not well liked in the West Wing. She was viewed as a "woman with an attitude." By May of 1994 she was told by her supervisors that she would have to leave.

Tripp wound up in the Public Affairs office at the Pentagon where, in April of 1996, she would meet another White House cast-off, a certain lovelorn former intern. Tripp became the manipulative, conversation-taping confidante of Lewinsky, and, in time, the primary secret agent for Independent Counsel, Kenneth Starr. After the scandal broke, Tripp quickly became reviled by the majority of the American public. The pop cultural apogee of this hatred was reached when the obese actor John Goodman began portraying Tripp in a series of sketches on Saturday Night Live. In 1999 Tripp claimed to CNN's Larry King that she found most of these appearances very funny.

In the years since the impeachment, Tripp re-married, had extensive plastic surgery and now runs a year-round Christmas shop in Middleburg, Virginia.

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