In Defense of Gary Condit

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When the media, the Republicans, and the Democrats join together
to bash Gary Condit, you know he can't be all bad. Anyone that so
irks the mainstream is valuable, if only for that. So let's take
a closer, libertarian look at this situation.

The libertarian position is rather simple. A good Congressman is
one who votes properly (e.g., for lower taxes, smaller government,
etc.) and abides by the Constitution. To my knowledge, Dr. Ron Paul
is the only decent member of Congress. All the other Congress critters
routinely vote for unjust and unconstitutional laws, and surely
deserve to be thrown out of office as well as civilized society.
But we don't need politicians to be role models; that's what private
citizens are for. We just need them to bother us as little as possible,
and to work to reduce the size of government. Put it this way: given
the choice of a "moral" legislator who is a socialist
(such as Joe Lieberman) and a no-good, lying, cheating, racist,
misogynous jerk who nevertheless respects the Constitution and votes
that way, give me the jerk. A Congressman's personal character is
just about irrelevant.

In fact, the mainstream's harping on how important a federal official's
character is should give us pause. It assumes that good character
is a substitute for constitutional conduct; it seeks to elevate
form over substance. An implicit assumption is that we should look
up to politicians (we should not; they should, at most, be barely
tolerated, and only so long as they behave). The mainstream wants
politicians to be respected so that we won't chase them down with
pitchforks when they regulate and rob us. Another assumption underlying
the focus on character is that elected federal officials can have
good character; barring rare exceptions like Dr. Paul, they cannot,
since positions of such power tend to attract amoral, power-hungry
charlatans. It also implies that intentions matter more than actions
(so that miserable failures like the welfare and education systems
can be forgiven). Worst of all, yelping about character can only
serve to distract from the fundamental question of the Congressman's
political outlook and voting record.

Who cares if a legislator is a scoundrel? There appears
to be little correlation between character and unlibertarian voting:
most Congressmen are socialists regardless of their personal scruples.

Condit appears to be just one of 534 socialists in Congress, of
the flavor "moderate Democrat." To be sure, by libertarian
standards, he ought to be tarred and feathered – but for his socialist
voting record, not for the Chandra Levy mess. In fact, all
federal elected officials of whom I am aware, other than Ron Paul,
ought to be summarily impeached. Given that Condit is known as a
"conservative" or "moderate" Democrat, I suspect
that many Democrats (probably most of them) have a much worse voting
record than Condit.

So why single him out? He's no worse than the rest of them. "He
should resign from office," seems to be the growing consensus,
because he "mishandled" the Chandra Levy "situation."
Well, why? Because his affair shows he's immoral and not a good
role model? Because he didn't show sufficient "remorse"
in his interview with Connie Chung? Because he used his position
of power to seduce an intern? Because he didn't cooperate quickly
enough with the police, early on? Or maybe he didn't wear his heart
on his sleeve and beg forgiveness with a teary-eyed performance,
la Jimmy Swaggart or Bill Clinton? Or perhaps, because he didn't
grace the media with enough interviews so they could ask him more
rude, intrusive questions.

In all likelihood, he didn’t murder Levy. So what if he didn't
bare his soul before the media. To the extent he's obligated to
cooperate with the police, that does not mean he's obligated to
satisfy reporters' desires to make headlines. What about the charge
that he didn't admit his affair to the police promptly enough? Come
on. Does anyone really think it mattered? Police are incompetent,
and criminals are not always caught. Assuming he had nothing to
do with her disappearance, she was probably a victim of some freakish
rape-murder. In that case, his earlier confession to the police
of an irrelevant affair would very likely not have aided the cops.

And let's put the tragedy in context. Granted, Levy, assuming she
was the victim of some ghastly crime, was a nominally innocent victim.
But we can assume she was a Democrat (she worked for a Democrat,
was from California, and comes from a liberal family) and enamored
of Washington power. She was also a floozy, willing to inflict possible
shame and misery on Condit's wife (granted, this is not as bad as
being a Democrat; I'd take a slutty tax-cutter over a prudish welfare-statist
any day). So, yes, it's tragic that a ditzy, power-besotted socialist
homewrecker appears to have met with an unfortunate fate, but let's
put it in perspective. I mean, it could have been a paleo-libertarian
vote that was lost, or the Pope being assassinated, or a baby killed
by its "post-partum-depressed" mom. I suspect Mrs. Condit,
for one, is not consumed with grief at the thought of poor Miss
Levy's fate.

What about the argument that Condit "took advantage"
of an intern who was "just a kid"? Oh, come on. She was
an adult, responsible for her own choices. And as to Condit's alleged
refusal to “apologize” – well, to whom? For what? He ought
to apologize to his wife, of course, but to Levy's parents? Apparently,
they reared a Monica Lewinsky-like socialist drone of dubious morals
and in awe of political power, who would naturally want to sleep
with a Powerful Politician (even if married). Don't they
owe the apology, for unleashing such a creature on the country?

So
let's not allow the drumbeat of Condit criticism to distract us
from the real issue: the Congress is infested by marauding socialists,
of which Condit is not even the worst. Until we are ready to start
impeaching these varmints based on their votes and political views,
let's leave Condit be, and stay on the lookout for some real tragedies
to bemoan.

August
31, 2001

Stephan
Kinsella [send him mail]
is an attorney and libertarian in Houston. His personal website
is located at www.stephankinsella.com.

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