There are major differences between the rape charges alleged against (soon to be former) IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and former Senator John Ensign’s illegal buying off of his lover’s husband. Both, however, reek of the sense of entitlement that washes over all too many powerful men, drowning all common sense as well as any ethical restraint that might lie buried within. The French culture appears to tolerate unlimited sexual activity (but not violence) from its “Big Men”. Elaine Sciolino in the NYT (5/17) described the culture as linking a political man’s sexual prowess to his vigor in running the country. Alas, for him, and unlike Strauss-Kahn, Ensign gets his political support from a religious right at least ostensibly sexually prudish.

There is a more disturbing comparison between the two cases worth highlighting, and that is French outrage that US justice is going to treat the high and mighty the same as everyone else. I am someone who does not like the “perp walk”, but is pleased to see that Strauss-Kahn is treated like any other suspected criminal. A prominent French historian was quoted as saying the French were surprised by the “egalitarianism in the American justice system”. Which brings us back to John Ensign. Perhaps Ensign’s sense of entitlement feels like a good fit with his Republican Party’s war on egalitarianism. Too many Republicans support the right of the rich and powerful to do whatever they want with what they get — and think they deserve — because they are worth so much more than a poor African immigrant chambermaid.

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