I guess it depends on who you ask. Sen. John Ensign, who loudly demanded Bill Clinton’s impeachment back in ’98, told a luncheon audience the other day that what the former president did was worse than his own sexual impropriety. Why, you may ask? Because Clinton lied about it under oath.
For those of you who may have forgotten, John Ensign had to admit having an affair with former campaign aide Cynthia Hampton. Hampton’s husband was Ensign’s administrative assistant, and the two families were friends. I guess the accent should be on were. Ensign says the difference between calling on Clinton to resign and not resigning himself is, quoting here, “I haven’t done anything legally wrong.”
This is a most interesting set of circumstances to contemplate. Why would a politician compare his sex scandal top another’s in the first place? There’s a good chance if he hadn’t brought it up, no one else would have. Is Ensign feeling the pressure to quit in his home state of Nevada? After all, this was his first public appearance back home since his June acknowledgment of the affair.
Maybe the apology he made to that Chamber of Commerce luncheon would be good enough. He called his straying “a distraction”. Maybe resigning from the Republican Policy Committee (did I mention he’s a Republican?) would suffice. It all comes back to the same question. Why compare his affair, which ended last year, with Bill Clinton’s, now more than 10 years old?
I guess it’s time for some truth here. Affairs among married people are universally ugly. They hurt people, intended or not. Politicians think they can get away with them, be they Bill Clinton or John Ensign. An awful lot of them don’t. Still, they do it because they can, because it makes them feel powerful. Why else mess around with a friend’s wife?
Here is what John Ensign should have told the Chamber of Commerce the other day. Obviously, he didn’t have the guts.
“I shamed myself and my family by my conduct. That conduct was my own, not to be compared to Bill Clinton or anybody else. Like Bill Clinton, I’m remaining in office to serve the people of this state, but I realize that my calls for his resignation back in 1998, in light of what I’ve done, were premature at best. There is no excuse for infidelity, and I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my life. To the people of Nevada, to my colleagues in the Senate, and most of all, to my family, I’m truly sorry.”
Not likely. But what do you think? Should Sen. John Ensign compare his sex affair to Bill Clinton’s?