The Clinton/Spitzer Comparison:
Over at the Right Coast, Mike Rappaport compares the misconduct and the public reaction to it of Bill Clinton in 1998 and Elliot Spitzer today:
I am sure that I have missed it, but I haven't seen anyone comparing the misdeeds of [Bill Clinton and Elliot Spitzer]. Clinton engaged in sex with an intern and then lied about it under oath. Spitzer engaged in sex with a prostitute, which is illegal. Which one is worse? Spitzer gets the boot, and Clinton is a hero to a lot of people. I know there are distinctions, but what are the morally and legally relevant ones? Here is one: Many people believe that prostitution should be legal; no one believes that perjury should be legal.
  I look at this differently. I don't know if Spitzer should "get the boot" for what he did, but I tend to think that these two cases are different on at least four grounds: first, the alleged crimes themselves; second, the differences between governors and Presidents; third, what the reports taught us about the two men; and fourth, the political context of the offenses and the investigation.

  First, consider the differences in the alleged crimes themselves. Based on what we know so far, Spitzer's crimes appear to include structuring, violations of the Mann Act, and perhaps other crimes. In contrast, I've never been sure that Clinton's false statements actually amounted to perjury; the crime of perjury requires materiality, and I'm not sure Clinton's false statements were material in context. See generally Alan Heinrich, Clinton's Little White Lies: The Materiality Requirement for Perjury in Civil Discovery, 32 Loyola L.A. L. Rev. 1303 (1999).

  Second, I would think that the difference between a Governor and a President matters. State Governors come and go, but replacing a Commander-in-Chief of the United States is a pretty big deal. Keep in mind that the Lewinsky scandal broke just about the same time that Al Qaeda declared war on the United States. With the Islamofascists on the attack, it was arguably an odd time to try to bring instability to the United States by impeaching the Commander-in-Chief. (Although I don't recall many Republicans being particularly concerned about this at the time.)

  Third, consider what the stories have taught us about the two men. The news about Spitzer came as a surprise; it was very much contrary to Spitzer's image. In contrast, everyone knew of Bill Clinton's infidelities before he was elected President. People didn't like it, and for a while in 1992 it looked the issue would sink his candidacy. But those who voted for Clinton factored his personal weaknesses into their assessment of him before casting their vote.

  Finally, the political context matters. Right now there is no sign that the case against Spitzer was politically motivated. There's speculation, but right now it looks like Spitzer caused his own fall. In contrast, the case against Clinton had strong elements of a partisan set-up. My recollection is that a number of Clinton's political enemies helped encourage the lawsuit against Clinton to get him under oath so he would lie or otherwise embarrass himself. And the folks who investigated him were unusually likely to be politically active members of the opposite party, many of whom personally despised Clinton and wanted him out.

  As I said, I don't know if Spitzer should get the boot; I don't live in New York, and I see that as a question for New Yorkers. But I think there are important differences between the two cases.