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Jewish World Review Sept. 10, 2001 / 21 Elul, 5761

Amy Holmes

Amy Holmes
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Consumer Reports

Predators and the
women who love them -- PETER BENCHLEY, the author of Jaws, wrote last year that he struggled for years to explain its impact --- until he read the words of Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson: "We're not just afraid of predators; we're transfixed by them, prone to weave stories and chatter endlessly about them, because fascination creates preparedness, and preparedness, survival. In a deeply tribal sense, we love our monsters."

Thus did 23.7 million viewers tune in to watch Connie Chung interview Rep. Gary Condit.

As the summer fades, and with it hope of Chandra Levy's return, Condit's reputation seems shattered. But a question still nags: What about his wife?

The summer of 2001 began with sordid tales of Washington politicians cruising the intern pool. So perhaps it should end with a thought about the wives who seem to endlessly forgive them: from Hillary Clinton to Jackie Jackson and, particularly, Carolyn Condit, they all do it.

Initial reports suggested that Carolyn Condit was the unwitting victim of her husband's dual life, languishing in Modesto, Calif., with a mysterious illness while her husband trolled for bedmates. It is now known, however, that she had a strong hand in directing her husband's summer media offensive and has been aware of his philandering for years.

The toll on Carolyn Condit must be great. She has sacrificed her own physical health - reportedly, she suffers from a nervous disorder that flares up whenever she learns of Condit's indiscretions. Perhaps, like Hillary, Carolyn will convert her marital fiasco into political power. Sen. Clinton now says she's never been happier in her marriage.

Jackie Jackson is a more mysterious case. Following revelations that her husband, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, fathered an out-of-wedlock child, she flew to Puerto Rico to crusade on his behalf against bombing tests on Vieques Island. She managed to get herself arrested and sent to a Puerto Rican jail for 10 days.

These well-educated women could, no doubt, live comfortably without their husbands and the attendant public humiliations. Yet they hang on, morally enfeebled by their proximity to power and position.

Carolyn Condit may have no obligation to explain herself to the sisterhood. But she could at least call Chandra's mother.

JWR contributor Amy Holmes is a Washington-based writer. To comment, click here.


07/02/01: Is Yates on the road to feminist stardom?
05/07/01: Now they're 'profiling' presidents' daughters?

© 2001, Amy Holmes