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Open letter to Gary Condit

Dear Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif.:

I notice you have issued a public statement ripping your hometown newspaper, the Modesto Bee, for calling on you to resign in light of the Chandra Levy scandal.

Far be it for me to defend the McClatchy newspaper – part of a corporate chain that typifies most of what’s wrong with the establishment press in this country. But I think it’s important that someone respond to your shameless self-indulgence in playing the victim. And I doubt the Modesto Bee will set you straight.

You say: “It is terribly unfair and disappointing that the Bee would have come to any decision about me without first allowing the investigation to continue and hearing what I have to say. My 30 years in public service should have earned me that much consideration.”

Oh, how familiar that sounds. It’s right out of Bill Clinton’s Book of Political Spin. You suggest the American people should withhold judgment about your conduct until all the facts are in – even though there are ample facts to determine you are thoroughly compromised as an elected representative, that you are unfit to serve in Congress and that you are unwilling to be candid with your constituents.

Instead you have chosen to stonewall – hiding behind the official investigation as an excuse not to explain yourself and your irresponsible behavior.

Furthermore, let me add that 30 years of “public service” doesn’t earn you anything except, arguably, your inflated salary and perks. Government service is a privilege the American people extend to those worthy – not a lifelong right. In fact, 30 years in government is, in my opinion, too long for anyone. It’s time to get a real job, Mr. Condit. It’s time to move on. It’s time for you – and for many of your colleagues, for that matter – to realize you are not irreplaceable.

You characterize coverage of the Chandra Levy scandal as part of “media frenzy” that is not about providing the public with “the truth.”

If that’s the case, Mr. Condit, it should be a simple matter for you to hold a press conference where you spell out “the truth,” as you see it. You have consistently failed to do that. You have not been accountable to the people with regard to actions and inactions that seem, on the face of it, inexcusable. You have the power to be heard above the din. You have chosen not to use it.

You express concern for your family’s “private life.” If that is truly your motivation for silence in the face of a national scandal, then you should, by all means, step down from office and focus on healing the rifts you alone have created with members of your family.

What will it take for you to understand that you are no longer wanted or needed by the constituents you say you have been honored and privileged to serve? Public opinion polls show you would be soundly rejected by your district’s voters in an election held today. Several of your colleagues – from both sides of the aisle have called for you to resign. You have become the central figure in a national scandal that is, once again, lowering the standards and expectations of all U.S. elected officials.

What keeps you in office?

Is it the perks? Is it the pension? Is it the desire to avoid personal disgrace?

Let me tell you, the only way you could save face today with the American people and the constituents who placed you in Congress is to resign – gracefully and honorably. This is the only way you could possibly recover a modicum of self-respect and dignity in the face of your serial womanizing and callous disregard for the interests of Chandra Levy and her family. It’s too late for any other course.

You’ve blown it, and it’s time to realize it. You chose a path of personal recklessness and it’s time to pay the piper. If you have any vestige of character and conscience left, do the right thing now. Stop thinking of only yourself. Think of your supporters. Think of your district. Think of Chandra Levy and her family. Think of all the others you have hurt. Think, if you can, about your country and the precedent you are setting by your selfish grasp on power.

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Related story:

Condit/Levy chronology</a