In a discussion of the Polanski case, Vanity Fair‘s Julian Sancton notes that “the French, in particular, are constantly baffled at the puritanical fervor with which the United States pursue men they admire, from Woody Allen to Bill Clinton. Sexual deviance, they seem to believe, is a natural and acceptable side-effect of greatness.”

Which isn’t putting it fairly. The French may have a comme ci comme ca attitude about world-class artists and powerful politicians having certain perverse or flamboyant tendencies in their private moments, but that’s not the same thing as calling such appetites (particularly those involving minors) acceptable. Because they not.

Rich and powerful go-getter types are different from Average Joes and Janes in two respects. One, they dream bigger, think bigger and are consumed by much stronger desires to get somewhere in life (or, in some cases, to get to the very top). And two, once they’ve risen to the upper stations of whatever profession or social network they’re operating in, they’re basically told in a hundred different ways that the Average Joe, lower- or middle-station rules about what you can or can’t get away with are no longer quite as demanding and unchallengable and black-and-white as before.

Rich and powerful people tend to believe they can get away with more, and so they tend to step over the line more because life tells them they can. It really is that simple.