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Jewish World Review July 20, 2001/ 29 Tamuz 5761

Kathleen Parker

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Consumer Reports

Enough already, you tacky, tacky blow-dried males!

http://www.jewishworldreview.com --
REPORTS that Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., belatedly confessed to police that he did in fact have a romantic relationship (Clintonese translation: sexual relations) with that woman, Chandra Levy, came as no surprise. Any reasonably alert adult knows what "just close friends" really means.

But his admission does raise certain concerns about declining male standards in America. I know what you're thinking: adultery, deceit, the usual drill. Add to that the unforgivable fact that Condit's lying may have impeded an investigation in the critical early days of Levy's disappearance.

All true, but even that's not my primary concern here. (Footnote: My very first concern, of course, is the same as everyone else's, that Levy be found safe and unharmed. Godspeed to those looking for her with the too-little-too-late assist of Condit. For these purposes, however, let's assume she'll show up for cocktails at 6, that Condit will be exonerated of any blame, seek redemption and be forgiven by both Jesse Jackson and Mrs. Condit.)

No, the daunting question second only to what happened to Chandra Levy is: What has happened to the American male?

Setting aside the obvious Thou Shalt Not Mess Around with Interns these guys are clueless about the rules of sinning. Yes, yes, I'm dredging up Clinton for this blow-dry roundup because, well, he started it. Come to think of it, there does seem to be a hair thing happening here. Blow-dry guys fall for big-haired gals?

Anyway, the interns the future lobbying/consulting firm of Lewinsky and Levy are forgiven. They're young; they're foolish; they weren't elected to public office, weren't married, had no vows to protect, no public trust to honor. They came to Washington seeking adventure, and they found it.

But these men. Does someone really have to write Adultery for Dummies?

"Chapter 1: Equal Risk." This is fundamental. Real men used to know this. If you're married, she'd better be married. Equal risk. If you have children, she'd better have children. Equal risk. If you're loaded with dough, stay away from women dependent on tips for a living. Ta-dum.

Otherwise, you might begin to ask yourself, what's she got to lose if your life is ruined? What's a twentysomething got to lose by, say, saving her ahem-stained dress? Nada. Or by disappearing in the middle of your political career? Not that Levy necessarily disappeared of her own volition, but you get the idea.

If you're still struggling with this, think boiled bunny. Like the rejected woman played by Glen Close in Fatal Attraction, the California duo of Lewinsky and Levy had nothing to lose and only their cherished men to gain. No bargain, we note, but, I repeat, they're young, clearly foolish and don't yet know what their boyfriends' wives and other lovers do.

As potboilers go, the Condit-Levy imbroglio has all that a summer dog day demands, except for that Real Man (best pronounced with Eastern European accent) has gone missing in America, the erstwhile chill-dude who knew how to light a cigarette in a wind tunnel and pull off a love affair without inspiring late-night punch lines.

Bogart. That's all you have to say to conjure the image: collar turned up, head tilted down, the amber glow. And a sultry, great-broad Lauren Bacall in the wings. Now say "Clinton." Not pretty, is it? A little too much Elvis down there in Arkansas, not enough Hemingway. And Condit? I don't know about you, but all I can think of is Dorothy's lion holding his tail.

One can only surmise that the Clintons and Condits of Capitol Hill are afraid of grown-up women, the great broads who played opposite real men. Perhaps they're too wise to the ways of men who feign interest in the deep thoughts of women too young to remember a time when men didn't own their own hair dryers.

Defenders of recent presidential peccadillos love to recall that President Kennedy, one of our more beloveds, was bad to the bone when it came to women, and we forgave him. Noted. But we forgave him and others because, among other things, they slept with grownups whose risks, if not precisely the same, at least were in the same ballpark. Lewinsky and Levy didn't have a chance against these testosterone bullies, and the men if not the women got what they deserved.

The problem with our nouveaux bons vivants is they're sleeping with women young enough to be their daughters. Beyond sin, it's just bad form.


JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.

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