- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2001

Now that even Dan Rather has deigned to mention the disappearance of Chandra Levy on the air, Gary Condit survives as the last person in the civilized world make that, the cable-ready realm to maintain an eerie public silence on the media sensation of the summer. "At an appropriate time, when the investigation warrants, Rep. Condit will speak to his constituents, who he continues to serve," said Mike Lynch, the House Democrat's chief of staff, in a written statement this week.
But not so fast. Apparently, now is not "appropriate." To be sure, Mr. Condit is not a police "suspect." Indeed, the young woman's disappearance hasn't even been classified as a "crime." But as the trail to Chandra Levy seems to have hit a dead end, it remains strewn with abundant evidence that the married, six-term congressman lied to police about his relationship with the 24-year-old intern for nine weeks, quite likely delaying or possibly preventing her ultimate retrieval, even as he attempted to convince a second woman to commit perjury. Under such circumstances, one has to wonder how Mr. Condit might possibly continue "to serve" his constituents. Serve his constituents? He didn't even show up for his hometown Fourth of July parade. Then, of course, there are the congressman's constituents in the Levy family who regard his private reticence and public silence as insurmountable obstacles in the hunt to find their daughter.
Another question. How is it possible for Mr. Condit's colleagues to continue "to serve" him? That is, with the press and public clamorously following this real-life whodunit if, indeed, any "it" was "dun" Mr. Condit isn't the only one who is troublingly reticent. Like children in an elementary school exercise in "building self-esteem," Mr. Condit's congressional colleagues, with few Republican exceptions, seem bent on finding only nice things to say about him. "There's a big difference between breaking one's vows and breaking the law," offers Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. "Gary is cooperating in every possible way," adds House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt. Hardly stirring stuff, but designed to soothe. Indeed, the only passion the case has aroused on Capitol Hill concerns the need to maintain congressional solidarity. Consider a quotation in Roll Call from Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat, on the subject of House staffer and cable commentator Julian Epstein's on-air analysis of the Condit affair: "It is not merely inappropriate for a House staffer to be commenting on television about , it is borderline outrageous."
If that's "borderline outrageous," then where does placing political ambition over assisting in the search for a missing woman fall? Maybe Mr. Condit will address that question at the "appropriate" time. In the meantime, the Democratic leadership should be called on for an answer.

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