When Bill Clinton was impeached, the issue, so the official inquisitor said, was not whether Monica Lewinsky served at his pleasure but whether the president perjured himself over it.
My recollection at the time was that many people, by no means all, started from a premise of being a Clinton supporter or opponent, and then invented whatever rules would allow them to continue to be a Clinton supporter or opponent.
In fact, working in Washington at the time, it felt like one of the strongest defensive weapon Clinton had was the anger of his supporters and allies at how hard the other side was trying to get him.
Full disclosure: I met Monica Lewinsky at a social event before she became notorious, and got the impression of a young woman who wanted very much to meet VIPs, squired around by her mother, who seemed to have similar goals. I don't mean to imply that there were any sexual overtones, and in any case by VIPs I mean Supreme Court justices, not radio network executives. My impressions don't tell you to what extent Lewinsky was a willing participant in whatever hanky-panky was going on in the Oval Office ("Maybe a little hanky but definitely no panky." -Groucho Marx.) But Lewinsky was a grown-up, possibly more so than the chief executive.
I mention all this after a viewer posted some remarks on the station Facebook page. Paul wrote, "Rep. Weiner took some pictures of himself and was forced to resign. Clinton got off squeaky clean. Something's really wrong with this. Both events were totally out of line."
That didn't feel right to me, so I was obliged to think about it - if it's not right, why not? Clinton didn't get off squeaky clean, the rest of his administration was hobbled, but I'm sure all our correspondent meant was that the impeachment didn't take. So the real question becomes, is what Weiner did worse than what Clinton did?
Yes. Because Lewinsky was a consenting adult. Weiner sent suggestive text and/or photos to people who did not solicit anything like that. If they had, it would have been dumb, and insulting to his bride, but with a full admission and apology, if his wife had been willing to give him another chance, the nation probably would have, too.
Instead, he did what CBS News correspondent Bob Schieffer described as being an electronic equivalent of flashing.
The two situations are more similar in another sense: "What were you thinking?" Both episodes revealed smart guys being dumb, always a little unnerving in our leaders.
What do you think? I'd be especially interested in your thoughts if you came to a different conclusion.