"I kissed that girl's inner thighs when she was six days old -- I said, Look at those little polkas,' " says lawyer William Ginsburg of his client, Monica Lewinsky, in the March 2 issue of Time magazine. In the same article, this most grandiloquent of attorneys complains that "the only jobs {Lewinsky's} been offered {recently} are talk-radio crap and posing nude," and he frets that "she's also worried about dating." After all, "Who's going to go out with her?"

Ginsburg's concern about his client's job prospects and dating life are merely the latest and most extreme instances of the penchant he has displayed -- since catapulting himself to national prominence -- for saying almost anything about Lewinsky. It is a penchant that would be merely an amusing sideshow to the presidential scandal were Lewinsky's legal strategy -- and hence her lawyer's role -- not so central to the investigation of President Clinton.

The comments began at the outset of the scandal, when Ginsburg used violent metaphors to describe Lewinsky's relationship with both the president and Starr. If "the Office of Independent Counsel has no substantial evidence or reason to go after Monica Lewinsky, they're ravaging her," he told ABC's "Nightline." "If it's true she had some sort of relationship with the president, then she's being ravaged."

Since then, Ginsburg has graced the network talk shows and other national media almost daily, describing everything from Lewinsky's dry-cleaning habits to her affair with a married man, to her being a "product of a phenomenon that is endemic in America -- divorce." She, meanwhile, remains in legal jeopardy following the failed immunity negotiations between Ginsburg and Kenneth Starr's office. Some of Ginsburg's media statements subtly have suggested that her sworn affidavit was untrue (CNN: "At this time, she is standing on that affidavit"). Others have been tangential, even irrelevant, to the matter at hand (The Post: "If the president of the United States did this -- and I'm not saying that he did -- with this young lady, I think he's a misogynist"). Still others have been off the wall. "Clinton is very positive toward Israel and the Jews, and Monica and I are Jews," he told the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, in explaining why they don't want the president to be pushed from office.

His comments frequently also seem to contradict one another. Only weeks after appearing to undermine the truth of his client's affidavit, he now insists that her statement was correct (ABC: "Her affidavit is factual"). He says Ken Starr's tactics are legal (CNN: "I would say I was upset at the way things were handled until, frankly, I learned what I don't like is the system. But there was no illegality"); subsequently, however, he questions whether some of the prosecutor's tactics were illegal (Time: "Starr seems to think it's okay to break the law to enforce the law"). Ginsburg says he would never take outside money for Lewinsky's defense (CNN: "If anyone is listening from the right wing, the left wing or the middle wing, anyone who offers us money, it would be refused. We serve no interest except Monica's"); yet he later announces that she wants to start a legal defense fund. He declares with apparent seriousness in Time, while protesting Starr's alleged leaks, that he has not said "a word about discussions with the Office of Independent Counsel. No comment. No comment." But what then was he doing when he told NBC that the negotiations "are still open. . . . We are having cordial discussions," or when he told ABC that "repeatedly during the course of discussions with the office of the prosecutor, we have been squeezed"?

Ginsburg may believe that publicly telling his client's story is the single most important service he can do her. But there is a good reason that defense lawyers typically avoid making public comments during criminal investigations: Anything they say can be used against their clients. When a lawyer talks about a matter at issue in a criminal probe, he risks waiving the attorney-client privilege for that issue. He also creates a public record that can be used to contradict his client's later testimony if the two are not fully consistent with one another. Ginsburg's entertaining but often contradictory indiscretions do a client such as Lewinsky no conceivable good. What's more, his public prancing between different stories suggests a disdain for the whole idea of truth, which seems to be, in his hands, whatever he feels moved to say to any given interviewer on any given day. Ginsburg is helping to destroy whatever credibility Lewinsky might have had, following her contradictory statements, to explain whether the president did or didn't violate the law. He is, thereby, doing the investigative process a real disservice.

Ginsburg, of course, is not a criminal lawyer; he specializes in medical malpractice cases. His explanation for his media blitz, an explanation that -- like everything else -- he bothered to publish, is that the campaign was "designed to demonstrate that my client is a responsible young woman who speaks the truth but got caught in the web of a complicated government conflict. . . ." That's a lovely sentiment, but a cynic would be pardoned if he wondered whether the thrill for Ginsburg of seeing himself on television played even a small role in the lawyer's zealous, non-legal advocacy. Pardoned, perhaps, but wrong. Ginsburg already has -- of course -- addressed that concern. Asked by Larry King shortly after the scandal broke how he was handling his new-found celebrity, the lawyer opined: "With great humility. I am more interested in my client than I am in my fame." The writer is a member of the editorial page staff.