Story pick: The definitive Gary Condit profile
Former Congressman Gary Condit's name surfaced Tuesday, as expected, at the murder trial of Ingmar Guandique, who is charged with killing Chandra Levy in 2001. What surfaced in my head was former Washington Post reporter Mike Sager's brilliant 2002 Esquire profile of Condit, titled "The Final Days of Gary Condit." Sager's piece hit the summer after Levy turned up dead in Rock Creek Park. As Esquire notes in a special introduction to its reposting of the piece, Sager's story "stands as living evidence: this was the first time anyone in that public consciousness really thought the man might be not guilty."
Sager wrote: "The longer Gary kept silent, the worse it became. Shut out, the media laid siege. Inside the castle, desperation led to bad decisions, worse results. A flight attendant surfaced, and then a hastily discarded watch box, a couple of comely former staffers, a special answering machine that played romantic music, a wellspring of lurid rumors — leather chaps and a studded harness, knotted neckties under the bed, Arab slave traders, Hells Angels, a possible pregnancy. In short order, a man who was once seen as the ideal grassroots legislator, a true man of the people — the man you could call to get a pothole fixed, your aunt's problema con la Migra cleared up, your lost VA check reissued — that man was no more. He had become instead the nation's most reviled figure."
Sager had incredible access to Condit and his family, and he spent countless hours with him. He told Sager: "I can't get anything back. And I'm not going to go around trying to change that. That's not me. That's not Gary Condit. I know who I am. I know what I'm about. I know what happened and what didn't happen. What more can I say?"
Michael S. Rosenwald
| October 27, 2010; 12:19 PM ET
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