Summer Interns On The Hill

Posted: Jul 18, 2001 12:00 AM
The idea of working on the hill holds great promise to countless young people across the country. Each summer they come, full of the casual idyllic energy of youth. They can be spotted all over the city, hands flailing, their eyes wide, as they describe their daily glimpses into the most powerful government in the world. All over town, they chat away their excited voices dancing in discourse like busy castanets. Their enthusiasm bubbles forth. The allure of working with powerful men can be intoxicating. Often they fall into the comfort of politicians, senior staffers and lobbyist who invite them to catered dinners with lecturers of some significance. The scene has become a staple of summers in the nation's capitol: young girls sip their drinks and giggle while our elected officials leer hungrily at them. What might be kindly described as sexual opportunism inevitably follows. The story, so familiar since Monica's pouty lips were plastered all over our televisions two years ago, has gained a tragic texture with the disappearance of Chandra Levy - Rep. Gary Condit's former intern and playmate. As police and family members try to piece together what happened to the intern, the rest of us wonder what happened to our elected officials? The list of legislators having inappropriate relations with their interns is long but distinguished. A few examples: Former Rep. Gerry Studds had sex with a young male page; Congressman Barney Frank attempted to influence a judicial decision to help out a homosexual prostitute. Most famously, a young aide named Mary Jo Kopechne was killed when Sen. Edward Kennedy's car plunged into the Chappaquiddick. They are bound together by a common fact: certain crude motives so deeply felt that their professed purpose in DC - to represent the voters - is supplanted by an adolescent will to pouch as many young interns and aides as possible. It is a sad example that Rep. Condit, Bill Clinton and the like are setting. It is the story of men who wield so much power that they feel comfortable acting out their most inappropriate sexual fantasies. They treat interns like objects, not people, because they often feel they can. The power makes it seem somehow acceptable - just another perk of the job. From Caesar to Clinton, men wielding power have felt the false freedom to violate those around them. The saddest fact is that when it comes to sex and politics, it's no longer even startling. In fact, there is talk of Rep. Condit recovering from the negative press and continuing his political career. To this end, Condit now seems poised to engage in a smear campaign. All over the television his liberal cronies are denouncing Levy as a stalker who was dangerously obsessed with Condit. But how dangerous could she have been if Condit continued to have her over to his home? There seems no end to this man's savage indiscretions. Even this late in the whole sordid affair, Rep. Condit still seems to feel he can do anything and everything. It is time for the American people to tell him, in no uncertain terms, that a small amount of power does not mean you can violate those around you!