Knee-Jerk Lies Standard Fare In U.S. Politics

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If you happen to be an American male who is currently holding public office or dreaming of doing so, you are now advised to stand in front of a mirror and repeat "I did not have sexual relations with that woman!" until you can do it without giggling.

Of course, even when you master this minor art, you are guaranteed to become the punchline-of-the-month on the Letterman and Leno shows, as your career, reputation and marriage are scattered across the media landscape in soiled shreds.

But don't let that knowledge stop you. Heaven knows, it didn't stop California Congressman Gary Condit, Bill Clinton or any other hormonally-imbalanced politician in Washington D.C. from making the same series of gross judgment errors.

Politicians who adopt a sincere demeanor while spinning bold-faced lies are hardly a spanking-new breed. The problem and it's a biggie is that lying has become the reflex action whenever any issue arises without its own happy-face spin.

How low has this trend careened? Well, it was bad enough when Clinton used it during the Lewinski melee merely to salvage his marriage and presidency. But Condit has now used it in the form of 10 weeks of total silence, followed by his "regretful" admission of an affair with missing 24-year-old intern Chandra Levy to wedge a sufficient amount of lost time into the criminal investigation that it may never be determined what happened to the girl.

The hard truth of the matter, though, is that Levy is either alive or not alive, and that Condit's guilt or innocence in her disappearance is shadowed by a much larger question that is sure to continue haunting us long after the congressman's tawdry tale slips off the headlines.

In American politics, when does the good of truth, the good of the people, the good of the country become more important than the wholly imagined good of one doomed liar's career?

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