Maggie Gallagher
I haven't been able to bring myself to write about L'Affaire Condit, because everything I wanted to say seemed just too obvious: Powerful men who cheat on their wives and mislead cops about missing girls are scummy. Girls who imagine that sleeping with powerful scummy men proves they are cool, independent, sexy adults are wrong and foolish. Sex with the Gary Condits of the world doesn't make you special. Men like that are easy to attract: Just be alive, available and not visibly deformed.

Years ago, George Gilder wrote the great and simple truth that even smart young women need to be told, because the cost of learning it by trial and error is just too high: "She thinks there is a close correlation between the men she can seduce and the men she might marry. But a young princess can seduce the vast majority of men. Unless very securely married," -- or, I might add, of unusually strong character -- "virtually any man will sleep with any attractive young woman. In Washington the liberated princess can sleep with senators. In Hollywood, with directors and movie stars. Everywhere she can sleep with her boss." Apparently Chandra, like Monica, started out having a wild mutual affair and ended up all alone, waiting by the phone, fantasizing about the wedding.

If Democrats are increasingly upset with the way Condit is monopolizing the airwaves, they have only themselves to blame. Before Clinton, the script for politicians caught cavorting was clear: From Wilbur Mills up through Bob Packwood, public hanky-panky earned you a quick kick in the tushy, as your friends and enemies alike said sayonara, buddy.

Thanks to Clinton, we are now treated to solemn disquisitions about whether adultery, per se, is a good reason to vote a congressman out of office. Adultery plus a probably dead girl? Adultery plus a pol who misled cops about the probably dead girl? Please. The Gephardts of the world gave the disgraced pol a good, fair chance to talk himself out of trouble, feeding the media frenzy that crowds out any serious political discussion for a season or two.

But talking yourself out of trouble, it turns out, is harder than it looked in the halcyon Clinton days. And even Clinton, you will recall, failed miserably the first time out of the box on "60 Minutes," looking at least as self-righteous, unrepentant and self-serving as Condit.

What Condit needed to do was obvious: Acknowledge wrongdoing, sound very sorry, and avoid trashing any Levy. Why was that so hard? The answer, I think, is not bad advice or stupidity. It lies in the nature of the beast.

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.