Jewish World Review August 27, 2001 / 8 Elul, 5761
If Bill Clinton ever decides to take his act on the road, he ought to take Gary Condit along with him. It certainly seems that the California Congressman will soon have plenty of time on his hands and I doubt if his wife would mind not having him around for at least a while.
Until the Condit-Chung slugfest, I never really understood why everyone thought that Bill Clinton was such a master of manipulating the media. I, for one, could always tell when Slick Willie was lying (it usually coincided with when his lips were moving), but now I think that I may have missed a large part of the point.
Perhaps everyone always knew he was lying, it was just that he made so many of us somehow feel "good" about his lies --- or at least not as bad as Condit apparently does. I didn't think it was possible, but seeing Condit stumble awkwardly through the exact same paces that Clinton pranced through effortlessly, actually gave me some respect for Clinton's abilities.
I guess fooling Americans isn't quite as easy I thought it was.
When Rod Stewart once sang "Some guys have all the luck/Some guys get all the breaks/ Some guys do nothin' but complain," he could have comparing Clinton & Condit.
Clinton is the kind of guy who, no matter how much he screws up, the majority of people still seem to think that it is somehow "cute" and wish they could get away with as many indiscretions as he does. This is the kind of guy I can't stand, probably because I am the kind of guy who points out how dreadful he is and everyone gets upset at me for ruining their fun.
Assuming that Gary Condit had nothing to do with the disappearance of Chandra Levy (a notion that, especially after his TV interview, seems increasingly difficult to defend), he is the kind of guy who desperately WANTS to be like Clinton, but just doesn't have that that magical knack for pulling it off. While Clinton could serve you chicken salad and convince you it was caviar, Condit seems to be transforming chicken salad into something that smells much worse.
Condit continually claimed during his inquisition that he is "confused" by what has been happening to him. I am sure that he is even more befuddled after being raked over the coals by Chung. After all, Condit used all of the same lame code words, evasions, deceptions, and specious arguments that worked so well for Clinton, but fell fecklessly against Chung's onslaught of legitimate questions.
What Condit apparently forgot when he decided to use the Clinton Playbook was not just that he lacks Clinton's Houdini-like talent for escape, but also that he was not going to benefit from the same kinds of breaks that Clinton received. Being a mere congressman, Condit was not protected by the same "force field" of reverence and respect that allowed Clinton only answer the questions he wanted in the way that he desired. Not only was Clinton not forced to subject himself to the kind of interview that Condit did, but he never had to face anything close to the kind of tough questioning that Chung threw at Condit. The media was so enamored and intimidated by Clinton that he has still never answered a question about the credible charges of rape against him or about his needless bombing of innocent bystanders in the Sudan.
If Condit expected the same softball treatment that Clinton benefited from, he was sadly mistaken. For that Chung deserves credit for bucking the trend of interviewers (Barbara Walters, Larry King and Katie Couric come quickly to mind) ingratiating themselves to newsmakers/celebrities in order to "get" the high profile interview and then not challenging them so that they will be able to lure big names in the future with the safe haven of their sympathetic inquiries.
In fact, the news media was hardly the only entity to provide Clinton with far more advantageous ground rules than Condit got. The American public and specifically women seem to be holding Condit to a much higher standard than they did for Clinton. Suddenly, lying about sex with an intern and suborning perjury is no longer is no longer completely acceptable.
One could make a very strong argument that, based on what we currently know, Clinton's actions were far more egregious towards the law and to women than Condit's, and yet he does not appear to be getting the same kind of "pass" from the public or from the pundits.
Much like the lying/cheating husband who
is rich gets much more slack from the wife than the man who struggles to
provide, women largely decided that with Clinton the ends justified the
means. Condit is learning the hard way that counting on philosophical
consistency from women is a highly risky endeavor. Such a mistake is
ironically appropriate in this situation considering that his apparent
"skill" at getting what he wanted from women is what got him in this
predicament in the first