Clinton incontestably used taxpayer-funded resources for his sexual adventures, engaging in workplace assignations with Ms. Lewinsky in an anteroom adjacent to the Oval Office while placing more than 50 calls to her, some of them international, using his presidential phone line. Weiner insists that his electronic indulgences never, or only rarely, made use of government equipment, as he relied on his personal BlackBerry and home computer.
That Weiner counts in most quarters as powerfully obnoxious while Clinton came across as fundamentally likable shouldn’t lead to irrationally different criteria for judging their misbehavior.
None of the accusations against Weiner so far involve workplace harassment or sexual predation with members of his staff or other government employees. Clinton admitted to a protracted dalliance, including oral sex, with a White House intern. According to prevailing interpretations of the Civil Rights Act, his secret involvement with a very junior member of the federal bureaucracy almost certainly created a “hostile work environment.” Could anyone argue that Clinton’s successful predation against a recent college graduate amounted to a less serious violation of standards than the unsuccessful flirtatious remarks allegedly directed by Clarence Thomas at a self-assured graduate of Yale Law School? The pattern of behavior by the future Supreme Court justice, stoutly denied by Thomas, nearly cost him his confirmation while the admitted and far more loathsome misdeeds by the president of the United States never undermined the worshipful attitude of his supporters.