Let's stipulate that sex makes men stupid. E.g., if someone had asked Gary Hart, "Would you rather be president of the United States, or have a gorgeous young blonde babe dangling on your knee?" Hart would have of course said he'd rather be president, but in fact we know in hindsight that he would prefer to fondle the blonde. Not that Donna Rice wasn't cute. But how cute would she have to be to have been worth the cost?
It's never worth it, but that's men for you. Women have sex in order to accomplish things. Men accomplish things in order to have sex. And ne'er the twain shall meet.
If you're a double-standard-obsessed conservative like me, you ask the question reflexively, "Why is it that Democrats, from Bill Clinton to Gerry Studds to Barney Frank can survive, or even prosper, while committing flagrant acts of indecorum (to say the least) -- but a Republican senator like Bob Packwood can pinch one too many feminine buttocks and find himself on the outside looking in faster than he can say, 'Hey, baby, what's your sign?'"
It's simple, really. Here's the dynamic: conservatives care about such immorality; liberals don't. That's why such peccadilloes mark the end of a Republican's career, but mean little or nothing to a Democrat's.
Conservatives are old-fashioned. They believe that a man can have all the right opinions on all the issues of the day, and still be a dirt bag -- or behave like one on any given day. Conservatives believe that leaders are role models, and that someone who can't control his baser instincts is not a suitable role model. We may all be hypocrites at some level -- as is anyone who has a standard of morality higher than he is able to achieve -- but there's no reason to accept a leader who is blatant about it. Bad character is like an iceberg; you're not seeing the half of it. Most of us probably wish Gov. Sanford had stayed in Argentina for good.
Liberals, on the other hand, are "New Age", postmodern, and so above all that talk of ancient commandments and provincial moral codes. If someone has all the right opinions -- that is, if he is a liberal -- then he is a good person, by definition. His other moral failings, whatever they are, are explained away as quirks or, at worst, regrettable lapses, but not definitive evidence of bad character. In fact, they may even display his human side, proving he is actually one of us. They will apologize for him -- "Yes, I wish he hadn't done that, but he lied about it to keep from hurting his wife and daughter, and you have to consider all he's done for the [fill in the blank] poor/homeless/women/minorities/world peace/environment/civil rights/sick/downtrodden etc."
(Mind you, these are philosophical attitudes, not practical ones. I have no doubt, liberal or not, that Hillary may have wanted to use the pinking shears on Mr. Bill's wayfaring luggage. You know, the ol' Lorena Bobbitt treatment, or as Johann Sebastian Bach wrote, "Wachet auf!" -- which John Bobbitt would recognize as "Sleepers, Awake!")
So then, why do liberals in the media make such a big deal of Republican sexual scandals, when liberals themselves don't care about such stuff? (Indeed, they think being Republican in the first place is the real scandal.)
Simple: they know conservatives do care. So it's Schadenfreude at its most deliciously insincere.