When video footage emerged last week of Donald Trump bragging of his sexual exploits and assaults, he tried to deflect by saying Bill Clinton has said and done worse.

As woman after woman emerges accusing Trump of sexual harassment, groping, or assault, many Trump fans point out that Clinton was accused of rape and has also has hung around convicted pervert Jeffrey Epstein.

Bring up Trump’s bragging about attempting to cheating on his wife, and sleeping with married women, and some Republican may respond that Clinton got away with it, in the Oval Office, with an intern — and that Republicans were attacked for making it an issue.

It’s well and good, if you like, to point out the inconsistency of liberals who defended Clinton then and attack Trump now. But sometimes inconsistency means moving from error to correct opinion. The Clinton-defenders-turned-Trump-attackers might be partisan hacks, and they might be insincere in their concern for women, but this time around they are correct. Trump’s treatment of women and his disdain for marriage matter when considering his fitness for office. They also reflect on those who support him politically.

The important thing is, we conservatives were right back then. And we should have the same standards today.

Two decades ago, we were correct when we said Bill Clinton’s sexual behavior hurt the country and reflected his unfitness for office.

“What have been revealed, through this scandal and others,” Bill Bennett wrote in The Death of Outrage, his 1998 book, “are the worst elements of Bill Clinton’s private and public character: reckless and irresponsible private behavior; habitual lying; abuse of power. Bill Clinton is a reproach. He has defiled the office of the presidency of the United States.”

Bennett was right when he wrote that. Sure, the mainstream media rejected that argument. Sure, Democrats attacked the argument. Sure, liberals mocked Bennett and other conservatives as prudes, crying that Clinton’s personal failings were irrelevant, even when the rape accusation arose. But they were wrong to do so, and conservatives who follow in their footsteps now are equally wrong.

Liberals’ error back then and their inconsistency now do not in any way mitigate Trump’s sins. The recently reported sins are directly tied to his fitness for the presidency, because sexual morality is directly tied to character, and character counts for statesmen.

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Trump’s own words indict him. Impulse control is an important trait in a president. Trump admits to lacking it. “l’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” he told television personality Billy Bush in a video from 2005. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss.” And he went on to describe his alleged success in groping as well.

Fidelity to one’s wife reflects honesty and loyalty, things we value in a president. And conservatives who believe the family and marriage have been damaged by the sexual revolution ought to hesitate before attaching themselves to Trump, a professed adulterer.

There’s another dangerous thread running through the sexual transgressions alleged (and in some cases admitted to) against Bill Clinton and Donald Trump: abuse of power. Trump explicitly celebrates his loutishness and harassment as a fruit of his power and fame.

“The funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show and everyone’s getting dressed,” Trump told Howard Stern about the beauty pageants he ran. “I’m allowed to go in, because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. … ‘Is everyone OK’? You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody OK?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that.”

He repeatedly bragged on tape about how his fame allowed him to get away with grabbing women and kissing them. A powerful man taking advantage of the women he has power over — especially in a sexual manner, where that exploitation is most personally damaging — is barbaric at best. Depraved is an appropriate word.

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Trump treated women as objects. And he bragged about it. A leader of people needs to treat people as people. That means he needs to see and respect their dignity. Trump’s abusive libertinism showed disdain toward human dignity.

Bill Clinton wasn’t impeached for having an affair — he was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice. But conservatives knew that his personal morality mattered. Sure, the Democrats and the mainstream media have shown double standards, but that’s their problem. We conservatives have no control over them. We do have control over how we behave and what we’re willing to defend.

In the vast expanses of the Internet, there’s surely room for pieces exposing liberal hypocrites or a media double standard. But the most important lesson today on sex and presidential politics is this: We were right that Clinton’s unbridled sexual license was relevant. If we want to be right again today, we need to hold Trump to the standards of morality to which we should hold all men and women who ask to be given power over us.

Timothy P. Carney, the Washington Examiner’s senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Tuesday and Thursday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.

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