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A public official's life is always public



Published: Thu, July 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



For a man who was supposed to be intelligent, California Democratic Rep. Gary Condit has been remarkably stupid. We would have thought that the lessons of Bill Clinton (former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former almost-Speaker Bob Livingstone -- both Republicans -- and all the rest) would not have been wasted on those with a predilection to stray from the safe confines of marriage and family. But along comes Condit to prove us wrong.

Not only did Condit get himself involved with a young intern (an intern, for heaven's sake!), but then denied the relationship for "the sake of his family." Where have we heard this before? To top it off, his lawyer had the audacity to suggest that Condit's behavior was his own private business.

Sorry, Congressman, the day you decided to run for office was the day you should have decided to do nothing you wouldn't want your family to read about in the Modesto Bee. (The Bee is the daily newspaper that serves the San Joaquin Valley community Condit represents.)

Even now, Condit's Website invites applications for internships, telling prospective employees, "Whether interning in Modesto, Merced, or Washington D.C., working in one of Rep. Condit's offices can be an extremely rewarding experience. Typical duties of interns can range from assisting with phones to researching legislative projects." Such is Condit's arrogance that he wouldn't think that such a statement is in the poorest taste.

Double standard: It's bad enough that men -- and women -- who ask for the trust of voters don't see the double standard they apply to themselves when it comes to the trust they expect from spouses and family. The lies they tell in hiding their secret lives are bad enough.

But Condit went way over the line when he refused to divulge the nature of his connection to Chandra Levy after she disappeared 10 weeks ago.

Washington D.C. police deny that Condit is under suspicion of anything related to Levy's missing-person status. However, as long as there is no trace of Levy, the congressman will remain under public suspicion.

Power broker: An MSNBC report described the conservative "blue-dog" Condit as one of the eight key power brokers for bridging the gap between parties. We would not expect to see his power to last long -- even if Levy turns up safe and sound.

Having Condit on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the U.S. House of Representatives is indeed oxymoronic. Americans were willing to put up with Clinton's compartmentalizing his public and private personas, but for all Condit's erstwhile popularity, he's no Bill Clinton.

It's hard to maintain those conservative credentials when your behavior is far from conservative. In 1999, Condit was named American Legion Legislator of the Year. Would the legion now be so supportive of a liar and a philanderer?

We wouldn't.




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