Modesto Man

By Hitchens, Christopher | The Nation, September 17, 2001 | Go to article overview

Modesto Man


Hitchens, Christopher, The Nation


Modesto, California

"Condit Country" is a bad enough slogan for this agribusiness burg, yet, not satisfied with it, the city boosters have also erected an arch across the main street. modesto, reads the self-regarding inscription. water. wealth. contentment. health. The local Congressman is an embodiment of this narcissistic style, and of the sort of Babbittry that accompanies it. Condit is always there, when it comes to being photographed for a peach parade. He's always there, on the House Agriculture Committee, when it comes to bills on land and water rights. He's an irrigation ditch for the local interests. His blond family--Carolyn, Cadee and Chad--is off a cornflakes box. In common with his sometime friend and patron Governor Gray Davis, Condit will make any political sellout his own idea. Death penalty--yes. School prayer, public display of the Ten Commandments, down with flag-burners and (now that you mention it) let's reveal the names of people with AIDS.

Creeps like Condit are, however, a dime a dozen in the Democratic Party, and I was in a state of general agreement with Dan Rather when I first set foot in the district. The disappearance of Chandra Levy had no importance beyond itself; it was a tragedy only for her family. Condit may have flirted with obstruction of justice by wasting the time of the DC police, and with suborning perjury in asking Anne Marie Smith to sign a false affidavit, but this was not on the Clinton scale of abuse of power. Condit hadn't used the forces of the state or mobilized large sums of public money in his battle to insulate himself from unwelcome inquiries. What he has done has at least been done on his own dime.

Thus I reasoned, idly, until I got to the corner of 16th and H streets downtown, where Condit has his headquarters. There wasn't much in the window, except a banal poster enjoining one and all to say no to hate crimes and two other exhibits. The first of these was a missing poster for Levy, who, as is now notorious, disappeared a whole continent away in Washington and is unlikely to be lurking in the greater Modesto area. The second was a missing poster for a local girl named Dena Raley, who has vanished in what the authorities call "suspicious circumstances." I asked an experienced local if Congressman Condit has always kindly displayed the posters for missing females in his district office window. "Oh no," came the reply. "That's a new thing."

I was at once seized with a powerful feeling of disgust. Condit and his team of lawyers and publicists have been saying unctuously for some time that they so much hope Chandra Levy hasn't gone the way of all those other girls who go missing. "I pray that she has not met the same fate," as Condit himself piously phrased it in a letter to his constituents. The not-so-subtle message is that life is unfair, whaddaya gonna do and don't look at me. But to use the posters of the missing as an accessory in this fashion is to take cynicism a stage further. I actually live in a place more or less equidistant between Levy's old apartment in Dupont Circle and Condit's oddly located pad in Adams Morgan, and I can tell you that the disappearance of single females is not as everyday an occurrence as some would have you think.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Modesto Man
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.