When Bowles asked the president about the story that morning, Clinton denied it. ''Erskine,'' he said, ''I want you to know that this story is not true.'' Bowles was crushed by the alleged charges, which he assumed were untrue. He was also devastated that a potentially great moment had been lost. Whether true or not, he understood the political implications: All of their hard work in building the alliance with Gingrich had been destroyed. There was no doubt in his mind that Clinton and Gingrich would have created a plan for reforming both Social Security and Medicare that year and, perhaps, set the stage for a new period of bipartisanship. ''Gingrich wanted to do it; Clinton wanted to do it. It was a real missed opportunity,'' he said. ''Monica changed everything.'' l
Reprinted from The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation by Steven Gillon (Oxford University Press). Copyright © 2008 by Oxford University Press.