Clinton Supporters Say Lust in Office Is Allowed under Law

Article excerpt

President Clinton's sex-scandal stonewall may be crumbling under arguments of his own supporters that a lust-them-and-leave-them libido is OK so long as it does not violate workplace sex-harassment law.

Gloria Steinem, for example, has argued that a president who cannot solicit campaign contributions from the Oval Office could solicit adulterous sex there from White House employees.

As evidence of hanky-panky in the pantry off the Oval Office accumulates, some of Mr. Clinton's friends and his lawyer have taken to explaining things under the apparent assumption that the presidential zipper is loose.

They argue on talk shows and in op-ed articles that episodes with Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Monica Lewinsky had none of the quid pro quo demands or repeated overtures that create a "hostile environment," so there is no violation of federal sexual harassment laws, known as Title VII of the civil rights law.

"The allegations about some kind of poor or bad effect on her employment don't seem to really meet the standards for a sexual harassment claim under Title VII," said Anita Hill, the law professor Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawyer who accused boss Clarence Thomas of harassment.

"I have a hard time finding any adverse ramifications for her in terms of her employment based on the alleged incident in the hotel room," Miss Hill said on "Meet The Press."

Presidential attorney Robert S. Bennett argued in legal papers that, even presuming Mrs. Jones' truthfulness, there is no true "sexual harassment," therefore no conspiracy. Even if there were, Mrs. Jones suffered no damage, he said.

Other advocates echo that - including feminist author Steinem, who vowed political loyalty and seemed to argue that each boss is entitled to one free grope to find out if an employee is willing.

"He is accused of having made a gross, dumb and reckless pass at a supporter during a low point in her life. She pushed him away, she said, and it never happened again. . . . In other words, President Clinton took `no' for an answer," Ms. Steinem wrote of Mrs. Willey in a New York Times piece that compared the Willey experience to overtures to Mrs. Jones.

Ms. Steinem, a founder of Ms. …