Maybe it’s time to go over all this again.
Let’s say there’s a CEO of a major corporation. Let’s call him Bill.
A sexual harassment suit is filed against him by a woman, let’s call her
Paula, who worked for him at another company. She says company security
guards summoned her to a hotel room, where he shamelessly exposed
himself and asked her to perform oral sex.
When she protested, he allegedly pulled her close and whispered that
this little incident should remain between them — reminding Paula that
her immediate supervisor was a close friend.
Paula left the company and hoped to put the incident behind her. But
years later a magazine story about the CEO’s sexcapades suggested that
she had actually offered to be her married boss’ mistress.
Enough was enough, she thought. She demanded the CEO clear the air,
apologize to her and tell the world that she did nothing improper in
that hotel room. He refused. So she filed a very public sexual
harassment lawsuit against him.
In the course of the pre-trial depositions, Paula’s attorneys
believed it was important to demonstrate that Bill, though married, was
extremely promiscuous and had carried on a series of affairs — both
long-term and short-term — throughout his life. One of his conquests,
they believed, was a 21-year-old intern who we’ll call Monica. In sworn
testimony in the pre-trial phase of the case, both Bill and Monica
denied any affair took place. Bill went so far as to say he scarcely
knew the intern and had certainly never bought her gifts or spent any
time alone with her.
Partly on the basis of this sworn testimony, taken under penalty of
perjury, the case against Bill was dismissed. But later, the ex-intern
admitted to an affair with the CEO, admitted accepting his gifts,
admitted more than 50 private meetings with her boss, after which she
was promoted to a top job in another department of the company.
Question: Does that CEO have even a ghost of a chance of surviving
the next board of directors meeting? Is there any doubt that Bill,
consumed, by the way, in a host of other company scandals, some of which
seem far more serious than perjury, abuse of power, adultery and taking
advantage of young women, is deemed to be a liability to the company and
Do you think the directors would really judge this case by the
company’s latest profit-and-loss statement? Or, do you think they would
act swiftly and decisively to rid themselves of this misogynist jerk and
replace him with another able and qualified executive?
Worse yet, suppose this same CEO used his wealth and power to hire
the best attorneys to help him stonewall the justice system? What if he
fought off subpoenas to testify? What if there was evidence his inner
circle orchestrated a massive cover-up, coached witnesses, invented
creative new legal strategies and used a scorched-earth policy against
anyone and everyone who dared to stand up to him and testify truthfully?
What’s so hard to understand about this? Why is this decision so
difficult to make for some people? Why is this not a no-brainer?
Of course it is. Except, for some reason, if the CEO happens to be
the president of the United States. As a nation, some seem to argue, we
should hold the highest elected official in the land, the chief law
enforcement officer and the most powerful man in the world to a lower
standard of morality, ethics and justice than an ordinary CEO.
We’re also supposed to ignore the grave threat it represents to the
nation to have the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces
vulnerable to blackmail because of his involvement in this scandal.
We’re also supposed to forget the fact that the whole world views the
nation’s president as something of a joke. We’re not to consider how the
pressure of this scandal might affect the president’s judgment the next
time the nation faces a crisis, either foreign or domestic.
It’s just sex, we’re told. How do you expect a married man to respond
to questions about an extramarital affair? Perjury and abuse of power
are not such big deals any way. So what? After all, that sexual
harassment case that started it all was thrown out of court, wasn’t it?