- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 25, 2001

Good thing Gary Condit finally suit-jacketed up to strike a blow for himself in his first public appearance since becoming a national name in connection with the disappearance of Washington intern Chandra Levy. In just 30 unedited minutes with ABC's Connie Chung, Mr. Condit managed to pull off a real knock-out-punch of an interview. Too bad it connected with his own head.

It wasn't just one statement that sent the California Democrat to the mat, or his repeated refusals (18, by one count) to admit to his affair with Miss Levy. It was an accumulation of body blows against common sense and decency that brought the man down. These ranged from demonstrably false assertions of full cooperation with the police "I don't think there's anyone in Washington, D.C., who's been more cooperative with this investigation than myself" to a stark failure to convey a sense of remorse, or even pity, over the probably tragic fate of Miss Levy. Indeed, despite an off-hand reference to "what Dr. and Mrs. Levy are going through," Mr. Condit seemed to take to the role of victim himself. "I've given up my civil liberties" for this investigation, he insisted on two occasions, later adding, "I have done everything, to the point where I've let interview my staff." For this, no doubt, Chief Ramsey should be grateful.

Perhaps the strongest emotion to break through Mr. Condit's tightly controlled demeanor was a sense of personal aggrievement, even pique, at having to suffer through what he portrayed as the shortcomings of others. Statements from the D.C. police that the congressman's reticence has impeded the investigation (reaffirmed after the ABC interview) leave Mr. Condit "confused" and "puzzled." Anne Marie Smith, the flight attendant who came forward with what she quite credibly claims is a false affidavit from Mr.Condit's lawyers, has "taken advantage of this tragedy … for a moment of publicity, of financial gain." The series of outre revelations from Linda Zamsky, Miss Levy's aunt and confidante, were figments of either Miss Levy's or Ms. Zamsky's imagination. The reports from Susan Levy, Chandra's mother, that Mr. Condit in a May telephone conversation denied the affair with her daughter were also false, Mr. Condit maintained, because Mrs. Levy "misunderstood" him.

In other words, everyone involved in the Chandra Levy case is wrong, opportunistic or delusional except, that is, Gary Condit, the man who told 23 million television viewers that he drove to Virginia to throw away the box of an expensive watch (a gift from yet another woman) the same day police searched his Adams-Morgan condominium "because I was cleaning out my office."

There is no evidence linking Mr. Condit to Miss Levy's disappearance. His assertions that he had nothing to do with her disappearance may well be true. Mr. Condit, nevertheless, continues to behave like a man with more than an affair to hide as much now, after breaking his public silence, as before. Having revealed little in the way of useful information or a sympathetic manner in his much-hyped national debut, Mr. Condit adds only a new bafflement: Why ever did he bother?

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