Thomas Sowell

Why would you pay hard cash for something you could easily get free of charge?

That is the question which exposes the cynical charade by Congressman Gary Condit when he paid for a private lie-detector test. The police had already asked to give him a lie-detector test. Had he refused, the headlines would have read: CONDIT REFUSES LIE DETECTOR. Instead, the headlines read: CONDIT PASSES LIE DETECTOR, though who knows under what conditions or after how many tries or with how much coaching?

It was a clever ploy by Condit and his lawyer. But what does that say about his purpose? Despite all the talk about "cooperating fully," it means that, more than two months after Chandra Levy disappeared, Condit is still playing games.

One part of these games is the sickly smile the Congressman shows when the media are around. This is part of an old political spin game. Richard Nixon used it when he left the White House in disgrace in 1974, pausing in front of the helicopter to strike a happy, triumphant pose.

Bad as that was, there was nobody missing -- and no one whose life might be hanging in the balance. But that is the grim reality today, while Congressman Gary Condit wears his media smile. Clearly he is someone with no sense of shame, or even decency.

If he had any real concern for the fate of Chandra Levy, the time to tell all was right after she disappeared, when there might have been some hope of finding her before it was too late. Sometimes one person's clue can be put together with others and lead the police in the right direction.

Everyone hopes that this young woman somehow turns up alive and unharmed. But it is a wish against all the odds. If she were alive, unharmed and free, can anyone imagine that she would let her parents go through these months of anguish?

If she were being held prisoner, would her captors dare to let her live, knowing how everyone is looking for her? Some have said that perhaps Chandra Levy has somehow lost her memory and may be wandering somewhere, not knowing who she is. But everybody else knows who she is. She would be recognized if she wandered down the street in the most isolated town in America.

Others say that perhaps she committed suicide. Then how did she dispose of her body afterwards? Any unidentified body found anywhere in this country would be quickly recognized if it were Chandra Levy's.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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