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It's impossible for anybody of my generation, or of the generation before mine, to talk about sex scandals without talking about Bill Clinton. So let me talk about Bill Clinton, before I talk about anybody else.

Paula Jones accused Bill Clinton of really, really crudely propositioning her for sex when she was a subordinate of his, when he was governor of Arkansas. That really pisses me off. Not specifically because of the consent issue, although he didn't ask her permission before exposing himself to her; that being said, yes, I know that as a subordinate, she had reasonable grounds to fear retaliation if she said no, to wonder if she was going to receive favors if she said yes, and that pisses me off, the way it pisses me off whenever anybody sleeps with a subordinate, however voluntarily.

Also about the consent issue; to be fair, it was in his hotel room, where he was used to groupies throwing themselves at him. He and others say that Bill Clinton had had so many political groupies throw themselves at him by then that he mistook her for one of them; she says that she had no idea and said or did nothing to give that impression; I believe both of them. I can't get too angry about that part, though, because it was the kind of circumstance under which miscommunication, misunderstanding of each others' intent, is too easy. That she sued him after he apologized, that her examples of alleged retaliation for turning him down were so lame and obviously concocted, pissed me off about her. What she alleged was so minor that I really do not believe that the civil suit should have gone forward while he was in office; I think it was unfair to him as a defendant to have to mount a defense while under that kind of public scrutiny, while he and the country had so much to lose if he just admitted, "I was a jerk when I was young." I would respect him more if he'd ever said, though, "I was a jerk when I was young."

That being said, there is a place where the Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky scandals overlap. Jones alleges that the groupies who did blow the governor got government favors for it. I wouldn't believe her, on no more evidence than she offered in her suit, if he hadn't turned around and done exactly the same damned thing for Monica Lewinsky. No other White House intern got the same full-court press to get them a good job that she got; that he did it out of guilt, or because she was blackmailing him if she was, doesn't keep me from being pissed off for all other interns who were left wondering, "Gee, if I'd offered to blow the President, I wonder how much money I'd be making now."

I lose respect for anybody who raises the perjury angle unless they're just totally ill-informed and admit this. The question was inadmissable under federal rules of evidence, on multiple grounds. Questions about past behavior are only allowed in sexual harassment suits if they relate to pattern of behavior. Bill Clinton was accused of propositioning Jones; her lawyers knew, from affidavits they already had, that Lewinsky was the one who propositioned Clinton. That they already knew the answer also made the question inappropriate during the discovery phase of a trial. Had Clinton been free to take his case all the way to court, he could almost certainly have beaten the perjury rap, even without raising the question of what "is" is. No, I lose respect for people who raise this issue because, almost without exception that I know, at least in my personal experience, the people who raise it are people who are violating my rule seven; they claim to care about perjury, but all they really care about is making the other side lose.

That being said, the Clintons win both win huge props from me for doing right what almost nobody in Washington does right: staying together, not for the career, and not just for the kid, but because they love each other, try to do what's right for each other, and forgive each other when they fail. By my standards, that makes theirs a nearly ideal marriage, and I give them significant props for that.

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