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Mark Vasche: Don't feel too sorry for Condit

When the news broke 10 days ago about the pending arrest of a suspect in the brutal murder of Chandra Levy, the words of two people triggered two widely divergent emotions in me.

The words of Levy's mother, Susan, made me want to cry.

"We have a life warrant of sadness and loneliness," she told reporter Michael Doyle, in describing what life has been like for her and her husband, Robert, in the eight years since their daughter's disappearance and death.

"It's more bitter than sweet," she said of the news that came Feb. 20 in a phone call from the Washington police chief. "This still leaves a hole in my stomach."

The words of Gary Condit, on the other hand, made me want to gag.

"It is unfortunate that an insatiable appetite for sensationalism blocked so many from searching for the real answers for so long," the former congressman told a Washington television station.

"I had always hoped to have the opportunity to tell my side of this story, but too many were not prepared to listen."

There was sensationalism, to be sure, fueled incessantly by the tabloid press and TV's talking heads.

But Condit was disingenuous if not dishonest to say he never had an opportunity to tell his side -- or that people weren't prepared to listen.

For weeks after Levy's disappearance in May 2001, Condit was evasive when asked about his relationship with the 24-year-old former Bureau of Prisons intern from Modesto.

He was evasive with investigators, and he was evasive with his constituents.

In August 2001, we -- The Modesto Bee's editorial board -- came to the difficult but inescapable conclusion that we no longer could support the man we had endorsed for every office he had ever sought.

On Aug. 12, we published an editorial that opened with these four simple words: "Gary Condit should resign."

Condit was soundly defeated by Dennis Cardoza in the March 2002 primary election.

A little more than two months later, on May 22, Chandra Levy's remains were found in Washington's Rock Creek Park.

Condit's own silence and strange behavior led to his downfall. His once-promising political career at an end, he headed for Arizona and a new beginning selling ice cream, filing lawsuits and now, we understand, planning to tell his side of the story in a book.

Chandra Levy was the victim then, and her parents are today.

For the Levys, there never will be a new beginning, only, as Susan Levy said the other day, "a life warrant of sadness and loneliness."

Mark Vasche is editor of The Modesto Bee.

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