Jewish World Review August 27, 2001/ 8 Elul, 5761

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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The draw of Condit -- THE CONNIE CHUNG CONDIT (C3) interview was preceded by a Sprint commercial that featured Charo. Coochie! Coochie! It was down hill from there for 24 million viewers. What is so oddly mesmerizing about this man and his follies bourgeois?

Gary Condit is certainly not a perfect man; he told Connie Chung as much six times or so. But he does take out the trash -- all the way from D.C. to Virginia. He knows his etiquette -- when the FBI is coming to search, you really should pick up the place.

Maybe we are Condit crazed because this guy makes Bill Clinton seem charming. Condit reduces rocker Tommy Lee to Pat Boone. Deviant Kid Rock at least surrendered his groupies for the love of his life, Pamela Anderson, formerly Mrs. Tommy Lee.

Mr. Condit is Clinton without the brains. He has all the Clinton classics from the Denying Affairs Playbook: "made mistakes," "the American people," "privacy," "causing pain" and "that woman." However, Mr. Condit misunderstood -- "that woman" is the descriptor for the harlot, not the wife. He said he would stay married for as long as "that woman" would have him. She should banish him and his trash to Virginia.

Perhaps Condit's looks intrigue us. It's something more than too much pancake #5. He has Orphan Annie Eyes - black circles of absence and nary a blink as a flummoxed Connie "fabric of your imagination" Chung tried to get the man off script.

He has Bates Motel potential with the too-coifed hair and pursed lips of a fussy librarian.

Maybe we crave Condit because, while we don't say it aloud, most of us believe he had something to do with Ms. Levy's disappearance. We don't want to be judgmental of Dick Gephardt's "noble" friend, as he called Condit on Meet the Press.

Still Condit's tall tales, lies, and simultaneous silence make what seemed like a ridiculous proposition - that he disposed of Chandra Levy- grow more probable. At a minimum, he knows something more about Ms. Levy than those soulless eyes and lips are revealing.

Perhaps it is untwisting Condit logic that makes for a fine parlor game. It's like watching a 4-year-old explain a false alibi. For Mr. Condit to be telling the truth in his interview, Chief Ramsey of the D.C. police, Chandra Levy's aunt, Anne Marie Smith (the flight attendant of the rocker red hair), the giver of the Tag Heuer watch, Mrs. Susan Levy, the FBI and more must be lying.

So scripted was he that Mr. Condit was unable to connect the dots from his lies to where outrage fit. When asked if he discussed marriage with Ms. Levy, Mr. Condit's "No" answer is bizarre. The answer of an innocent man is, "Why on earth would we discuss marriage? We were just friends."

His "Chandra and I never had a cross word" defies the Mars/Venus deal. And monkeys have flown from my nose. Mr. Condit told Chung that he called Chandra on April 31, May 1 or 2. Thirty days hath September, April, June and November.

Maybe we enjoy seeing that the press isn't much brighter than its subject. Judy Bachrach of Vanity Fair described Condit as "private" because she discovered that his staff doesn't even know him well, something she discerned from their revelation that Condit disappears for hours without a cell phone. This is the classic behavior of a philanderer and they label him "intensely private"?

Maybe we are drawn to the hypocrisy. The eerie silence of NOW surrounds us. Anita Hill groupies have not uttered a word. Anti-Packwood anti-perverts are mute. Perhaps we are amused at the less intellectually gifted, Oprah fans, Palm Beach County voters and most of California, spouting undying support for this cad.

We all shook our heads over Condit's performance. There was a collective, "Can you believe this guy?" across the nation by 10:30 PM EST. This is a pitiful soul with no means of replacing a $145,000 per year job, its staff and perks. A desperate man grasps to hang on to a Congressional seat, political power and "that woman."

But we watch in limbo: how low can we go? We wait for the outrage, for someone to offer more than the trite phrase, "If we threw everyone who had an affair out of Congress, there would be no one left." All in all, not a bad plan for those of us who support limited government.

Condit is the culmination of the Clinton era. Mr. Clinton took us to rock star behavior in politicians old enough to be Mick Jagger and all without shame in them or their spouses. Even Aerosmith's Steven Tyler regrets his drug era.

Seedy philanderers. Two-timing scoundrels. Agonizing interviews with scripted and made-up scoundrels whose only outrage is at us and the media for uncovering their demented immorality. We can hardly wait for the next one. For the sake of national productivity, Gary Condit needs to go.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


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© 2000, Marianne M. Jennings