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COLD COPY

Sex, lies and editorials

What The Times had to say about politicians' peccadilloes over the years.

March 12, 2008

"Condit's Unseemly Silence"
July 6, 2001
When was the last time you heard of a congressman skipping Fourth of July parades in his own district? Ever since Chandra Levy, a 25-year-old Bureau of Prisons intern from Modesto County, disappeared in Washington May 1, Rep. Gary A. Condit (D-Ceres) has been underground. Police have repeatedly pointed out that there may not even be a crime behind Levy's disappearance and that Condit is not a suspect in any case--which makes the congressman's stance particularly inappropriate?. New allegations make Condit's behavior even more troubling. Anne Marie Smith, a 39-year-old flight attendant, told Fox News that she and Condit had an affair over the past year and that, once Levy disappeared, the congressman's attorneys asked her to sign an affidavit stating that she and Condit were never romantically involved. Condit's lawyers have acknowledged that they sent such a statement?. Back in 1998, when Bill Clinton was trying to hide his involvement with Monica S. Lewinsky, Condit declared that Clinton should end the 'drip-drip-drip .... You can't close this issue without getting all the information out there.' The disappearance of a person is far more serious than adultery — all the more reason Condit should have heeded his own words.

"Just Say No, Gary"
Dec. 11, 2001
America's understandable distraction with terrorism after Sept. 11 shouldn't be misread as acceptance of Condit's behavior and persistent dissembling. Because he's no longer on Page 1 for refusing to talk forthrightly about the mysterious disappearance of a young woman is hardly reason to vote for somebody. It is, in fact, a very good reason not to vote for him?. The congressman has, perversely, grown even more defiant. " ... I have been mistreated in terms of my civil liberties," he told The Times' Mark Z. Barabak?. We remember another politician, also full of self-righteousness and also named Gary (Hart) who bristled at those who asked questions about so-called private matters?. Note to Condit: As a campaign strategy, defiance will get you only so far.

Two years later, the board addressed the charges discovered by its newsroom colleagues against then-gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom the board would come around to support:

"Muscle and Meanness"
Oct. 3, 2003
Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign didn't appear to require much damage control after six women claimed that as long ago as 1975 and as recently as 2000 he groped and otherwise sexually harassed them. Nonetheless, before cheering crowds, the movie-star-turned-candidate energetically dismissed the report in Thursday's Times as "trash politics." At the same time, he apologized to any woman he had offended when he "behaved badly" on "rowdy movie sets." Blaming the media and charging opponents with running a dirty campaign are time-honored tactics for deflecting unwelcome scrutiny. And what better way to keep a would-be scandal from escalating than to issue a blanket apology — after his spokesman's blanket denial?. Maybe that's what voters want this time: to have the class bully on their side?. Problem is, a man who describes humiliating waitresses, secretaries and stuntwomen as "playful" seems an unlikely champion of the little people, including those who would vote him into office. If only the waitress who said he asked her for a crude favor had followed her instincts and poured that hot coffee in his lap.

And then there's Mark Foley, center of the perfect sex-scandal storm: homosexuality, underage partners, and transcripted dirty talk. Here's what the board had to say on Oct. 3, 2006:

The scandal surrounding disgraced Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) is following the familiar Washington pattern, with one side (Democrats, in this case) alleging a coverup and the other (Republicans) railing about a setup?. The episode should serve as a cautionary tale for all employers, particularly ones who bring youths into the workplace. Foley resigned Friday after the ABC News website reported salacious instant messages that Foley had sent in 2003 to a male teenager who had been a House page. ABC's revelation, however, came about a year after members of the House leadership were made aware of the allegations about Foley, a deputy Republican whip and chairman — it would be impossible to make this stuff up — of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children?. Foley's lawyer announced that the congressman had checked himself into a rehab program for alcoholics, as if drinking too much could somehow explain his attempt to seduce boys one-third his age. A different kind of rehab may be in order for the inattentive lawmakers and staff who oversee the pages.

And for those of you who made it this far, here's the editorial board's round-up of sexual scandals far and wide, and proof that kink is really a bipartisan effort:

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