Whose Conduct Was More Reprehensible: Clinton’s or Spitzer’s?

Posted: Mar 13, 2008 12:00 AM

First, limit the question to what is known beyond reasonable doubt: Eliot Spitzer’s serial assignations with call girls and Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky combined with his perjury about that affair.

Set aside Spitzer’s bullying prosecutions and his abuse of his office as governor. Try and forget the allegations against Bill Clinton from other women. Stick just to what is widely understood to be undeniable facts.

So, whose conduct is worse?

Callers to my radio show went 60-40 to proclaim Clinton the bigger heel. The reasons were two: He abused his position of power over an intern and he clung to power even after his guilt was exposed.

Those who blasted Spitzer pointed to his hypocrisy in having prosecuted others for the very conduct he is accused of engaging in, but others saluted his eventual decision to resign.

Many callers threw up their hands and declared a tie: Both guys were skunks.

There are fair arguments on all sides, but the discussion raises one key question: Given that Spitzer is being hounded from office as a result of his conduct, why is Bill Clinton still being celebrated on the campaign trail and honored far and wide? When did the absolution get conferred? When did the statute of limitations run on holding his repulsive conduct against him?

Of course Senator Clinton is not guilty of the sins of her husband except insofar as she participated in their cover-up, and that she was duped with many others is at least believable.

But this isn’t a question of criminal guilt but of a country’s willingness to welcome back to the White House a man who most definitely degraded the Oval Office by his conduct.

Can you imagine Eliot Spitzer back in public life in eight years? If not, why has Bill staged such a comeback?

Could it be that many in the press and the electorate are simply amazed at Bill’s brazenness? His willingness to say or do anything? That America simply loves an unrepentant rogue?

If Spitzer had chutzpah like Bill’s, he would have walked out to the cameras, cited the Clinton precedent, and dared the new York legislature to impeach him while asserting it was time to get back to the people’s business.

Given the Clinton precedent, it might have worked.