by John Stiles

There are exactly 537 individuals in this country directly elected to represent us either partially or as a whole in the halls of government in Washington, D.C. And if recent history has taught us anything at all, it is that morally at least, these particular individuals may not be the best and the brightest cross section of our 281 million citizens. The most recent scandalous spotlight to go on in Washington brings an up until now insignificant member of the House of Representatives from the northern reaches of California's San Joaquin Valley -- Gary Condit -- to center stage.

The Honorable Mr. Condit, who seems to be anything but by his own admittance and that of many who know him best, apparently carried on an adulterous affair (one of a number by most accounts) with a 20-something intern from his district in Modesto, Calif.

Now if all this sounds familiar, unfortunately it ought to. But this particular story, like only those tales of sin from the halls of government seem to be able to do, gets even more sordid. The intern the married, 50-something Rep. Condit was spending nights with at his D.C. apartment while his wife spent most of her time back in California, has now disappeared.

The congressman at first, as these individuals are all wont to do, dispelled roomers that he and the missing woman -- Chandra Levy -- were anything more than just good friends. He then hired some high-priced legal help to turn the glare off of himself, and later admits, to police involved in a search for the woman, that he indeed did have an intimate relationship with Levy.

But wait, things, which most people would think couldn't get any worse, do. The congressman, the same member of that august body who insisted that then President William Jefferson Clinton come clean over his adultery with another 20-something intern, allows one of those pricey hires to fly a particularly ugly smear of the missing woman as a trial balloon in an Internet magazine interview. The public relations hired-gun characterizes Levy as something less than of high moral character by hinting, as many as three separate times, that the missing young woman had a history of ''one-night stands.''

And this, of all the things I've heard, seen or smelled out of Washington in the last few decades seems to be the absolute low point of our representative democracy.

How a man, who seemed so eager to show all that so-called ''manhood'' of his between the sheets, could stoop to such an abhorrent and cowardly tactic is unfathomable, and quite unmanly to say the least. Not only should the PR flak who uttered these vile words have been fired on the spot, but all those sitting around the conference table discussing such a despicable approach, as we all know they do, should hit the bricks as well.

We sincerely wonder how this particular ''the best defense is a good offense'' idea came up in a room full of highly paid and reasonably intelligent professionals. And, if it did come up, as it obviously did, how come nobody labeled it for the complete outrage it is? That, is perhaps the political $64,000 question of the last half of the 20th century.

How do ordinarily sane and seemingly decent individuals, most usually in government, arrive at some of the choices they do? It has come time for Congressman Condit and the lawyers, spin doctors, PR people and all their ilk to go. They should all be made to hitchhike back to the rocks from under which they crawled, as it would be an added burden on the American taxpayer to have to fund their trips home. And it is not for the adulterous affair alone that the congressman should be sent back to get a real job in Modesto. Because, as we are all of us too painfully aware, if we were to start casting stones in the direction of all those members of our national leadership who engage in extra-marital affairs, it wouldn't be long before you could hear a pin drop from one end of the Capitol building to the other for the lack of a quorum. It is for the absolute sleazy manner in which Rep. Condit and his staff, both permanent and recently hired, have handled this entire debacle. The man has shown himself unfit to function with the rest of decent human beings, which we are beginning to wonder if there’s many of in Washington these days.

And for those who would remind me, as they undoubtedly will, that I haven't earned the right to call the congressman's actions into question and demand his resignation, as he is not ''my member of Congress.'' I would like to point out that while that is technically true, it is just as true that he IS a ''MEMBER OF MY CONGRESS,'' and that's more than enough reason for all of us to be sickened and sincerely appalled.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online August 15, 2001

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