Politicians’ problems with truth

People like Gary Condit should be ostracized for not only being a bad husband and father, but for brazenly failing to tell the truth to people trying to find his missing lover.

The man who pleaded in the well of the House of Representatives for a president to come clean about his sexual relationship with an intern now uses the words of a victim?s family against them. He says he withholds information from the public for their benefit of Chandra?s parents because they asked him to do so.

The hypocrisy is absolutely revolting. And yet we shouldn?t be surprised.

The place of Bill Clinton in history has yet to be determined, but one of his legacies might be that you can bend the truth, evade the public and still serve. Investigators asked him if he had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, and according to his Harvard Law education, he legally hadn?t. But what he and his intern did was irrelevant to the main question of that deposition, which was whether Paula Jones was telling the truth.

So not that Clinton?s evading the truth about Lewinsky was proper, but one could make the argument that it was not germane to the question at hand. The wagging of his finger to the press after Monica?s story came out saying that he ?did not have sexual relations with that woman? was truly offensive behavior.

He may have been legally correct, but he forever destroyed any faith in his word the American public may have had. It was just plain immoral and wrong. And in doing so, he may have set us on a course regarding truth telling from which we need to return.

When police came to Gary Condit and said the girl he was sleeping with is missing, he failed to tell the whole and complete truth on the spot. There are certain things in life which are black and white, where right and wrong are clearly delineated, and this is one of them. But in the modern culture, Condit sees only that he answered questions asked of him and didn?t perjure himself (he wasn?t under oath during much of the questioning).

So because he technically didn?t break the law, when Connie Chung asked him whether he thinks he is a ?moral man,? Condit replied ?Yes? without a moment of hesitation.

He does this because he believes, and he is somewhat right, that we as a culture expect nothing of him. The subplots of this story that get lost in the shuffle are reason enough to call him immoral. Sleeping with someone on your staff who is half your age is wrong. Saying your other mistress, flight attendant Ann Marie Smith, is out for money when she hasn?t made a dime is wrong. Attempting to parse the questions of investigators to give as little information as possible is wrong.

This is before we mention he cheats on his wife, he lies to police trying to find someone I?m thinking he should give somewhat of a damn about, and then instead of telling the truth to the people he represents, he twists the words of his mistress? parents.

But he?ll continue to cast votes in the House in the fall, and though he will be a pariah to his colleagues, he still will hold power. After all, he?s a politician, and they all lie and cheat, right?

They might as long as we expect nothing of them.

Collin Sherwin is a junior majoring in political science.usfcollin@yahoo.com