From a letter "paid for by Condit for Congress, P.O. Box 1710, Modesto, CA 95353." Dated 08/22/2001
The line breaks and layout are an attempt to recreate the original format of the letter.
August 22, 2001
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Chandra Levy has been missing for nearly four months
I'm sorry that the pain the Levy family and Chandra's friends are feeling has grown worse with each passing day.
When Chandra's dad called me to tell me she was missing, he asked for my help. I contacted the police to see if a reward fund would help find her. They said it would, so I helped start one.
Since that day, and every day since, I have cooperated and worked with law enforcement to find Chandra. I invited the police to my apartment. I asked the FBI to help.
Despite my best attempts to help the police find Chandra, some in the media have criticized me for remaining "silent."
I have not been silent with those in charge of finding Chandra.
I have answered every single question asked by the police and FBI.
When tabloids turned the tragedy of Chandra's disappearance in to a spectacle and rumors were reported as facts, I decided that I would not discuss my private life with the media.
Some suggest that not talking with the media could mean that I had something to do with Chandra's disappearance. I did not. I pray that she has not met the same fate as the other young women who have disappeared from the same neighborhood.
I will be interviewed on television and hopefully I will be able to answer questions that help people understand.
It is not something I look forward to. But things have gone on long enough.
Before speaking with the media. I wanted to write to you. I have known so many of you for a long time. You know me to be hard working, committed to our issues and dedicated to my community and my family. I hope you will also understand that I am not perfect and have made my share of mistakes.
For 30 years as a local Mayor, County Supervisor, State Assemblyman and Congressman, thousands of people have come to me with their personal problems.
A son in trouble, a mother in a nursing home, a job that is lost, a farm going broke, a mortgage that couldn't be paid.
And each time, people trusted that I would treat their problems with care.
I hope our relationship is strong enough to endure all of this.
For now, I want my work in Congress to improve our communities. Please know that you can still bring me your concerns and your problems.
Thank you for the kindness you have shown Carolyn and my family
Source: television station KVOR
This is the letter sent to 200,000 households within his constituency in California's Central Valley. The mailing was carefully timed to arrive at homes across the valley the day before Rep. Condit's many interviews with the national media. Clearly, all of this - the mailing, the interviews, and the preceding silence are all part of a carefully orchestrated media campaign. The important question here, the one not to miss is this - orchestrated to what end?
There are a number of things that strike me as leaden and off-tone in the letter. First is Condit's seeming lack of contrition. He does not apologize for his affair, for taking advantage of a 24 year old girl far from her home and family. He does not commiserate with the Levy's. He makes a flat statement that they are in pain, and that the pain worsens with each passing day. It's a strange approach with a a stranger phrasing. If Chandra was a "good friend," as he has said in earlier statements, where is his pain? Where is his empathy for the Levy's. Where is his embarrassment for the notoriety he's brought to the people he represents? It's all missing beneath a very flat voice, a kind of textual lack of affect.
I'm not a forensic psychologist, but there are a number of strange psychological traces at work in the letter. The flatness of affect is one, a kind of remorselessness, or deadness. Am I reading into this too much? I don't think so. Second, he spends a great deal of time enumerating how forthcoming he's been with the authorities, when the record clearly shows he was resistant. More fundamental is how he failed to come forward the moment her disappearance came to light. Instead, he lied to Chandra's father on the phone.
The strangeness continues with his repeated pleas for sympathy from the reader, "It is not something I look forward to...Thank you for the kindness you have shown Carolyn and my family." I find it particularly offensive that he drags his wife and family into the letter, not to apologize to them, but instead to hold them up as a prop - instead of real thanks, his closing statement is a passive-aggressive call for kindness towards him, casting his family, and therefore himself, as victims. Again, his wife is hauled out as proof of Condit's moral righteousness. We are asked to have sympathy for him and his family, not Chandra and the Levy's.
The numerous mentions of "problems" in the letter also seem inappropriate. He spends more than a paragraph listing out the various kinds of problems people have come to him with over the years. Included in these problems are "a son in trouble." We could make this statement more generic and generalize it to "an older child in trouble..." Is he really talking about Chandra here? In the letter's 3rd paragraph, he mentions Dr. Levy, dismissively and familiarly referred to as "Chandra's dad". Dr. Levy calls Condit for help finding Chandra - just another call from a constituent, another problem for him to solve, like all the other problems he lists off. He's asking for reciprocity, for the "problem" of Chandra to be taken care of. Is this a stretch? Maybe, but the mention of all his "good deeds" seems out of place otherwise.
Finally, I'll close with his chilling mention of Chandra's possible fate, "I pray that she has not met the same fate as the other young women who have disappeared from the same neighborhood." He actually takes time out to plant the seed of reasonable doubt. The possibility of a serial killer operating in the Dupont Circle area of DC has received very little national press attention. In fact, the only place I've heard it is word-of-mouth gossip from inside the beltway. Condit actually has the audacity to throw out a teaser - very few people will know what he's talking about, from the letter. Mark my words, Condit will make a point of mentioning the possibility of this killer in his interviews tonight. His guilt or innocence in any foul play concerning Chandra aside, this is a disaffected, emotionally disconnected man who's only concern is getting away with whatever he's done and remain in his position of power and social approbation.
We'll see if he gets away with it.