Sex scandals come in all sizes and shapes. And public opinions on matters of the heart — and the libido — continue to evolve. As a result, constituents are not always sure anymore when to be blase, when to be nonplused and when to be outraged by the behavior of their elected officials. Should Bill Clinton have been hounded out of office (as he almost was) for a dalliance with a 22-year-old intern? Should John Edwards have been sidelined from politics because he fathered a child with his mistress while his wife was dying of cancer? Should Eliot Spitzer have resigned for hiring prostitutes or Anthony Weiner for sexting Twitter followers?
These are tough questions involving changing standards and squishy moral codes (as evidenced by the fact that Spitzer, Weiner and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford are all back in the game). But here are two things that push a routine sexual indiscretion over the line into something else — sexual assault and sexual harassment: If the act in question involves harassment of a colleague or employee, or if it involves assault, then all bets are off.
Which brings us to San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, a brash former congressman who is the first Democrat in two decades to serve as the city's chief executive. In recent days he has been accused of a variety of misdeeds by employees and constituents alike, and calls for his resignation are echoing through city hall and beyond. For a while, the allegations lacked details, but it has emerged that he is accused of forcibly kissing two constituents and grabbing the buttocks and breast of a staff member. For good measure, Filner allegedly told a female staffer (in a city hall elevator, no less) that women employees would do better "if they worked without their panties on."