Did you hear the news that William Kennedy Smith is thinking about a run for Congress from his home district in Chicago?

This is the same Kennedy who 10 years ago went through a celebrated televised trial. He was accused of rape.

The alleged victim was portrayed for a long time as the witness with a blue dot over her face.

She was eventually fully identified, and he was eventually acquitted before resuming his medical career.

It was a raging scandal at the time, with testimony about Sen. Ted Kennedy wandering around the Kennedy Palm Beach compound wearing only a shirt — if you dare to imagine that — asking his nephews to pop out to a pick up bar for a late night drink.

So all this time later, William Kennedy Smith feels safe enough to step back into the spotlight as a possible candidate.

What does this say about the trouble congressman Gary Condit seems to be in?

If Condit is stewing about what happened to his life and reputation, he can look to Kennedy Smith.

He can also look to Bill Clinton, who made a triumphant reappearance today.

Not to mention Mike Tyson. He actually served time for rape, and when another allegation is lodged against him, what does the world do? Howl in protest? Hardly. The news has been greeted with a yawn.

William Kennedy Smith may never be a congressman, but it appears he has proved that a fresh scandal scribbled on top of an old one takes all the bite out of the old one.

Who gets much excited about Gary Hart and Donna Rice these days? Nobody.

So does all of this make the Chandra Levy story less a story? Not at all. It's still a mystery. It could be a murder. The Levys are still anguished. These are the profound elements of human drama and suspense. How will it turn out? We all want to know.

As for the congressman, if it turns out he is not involved in any way, he will have to deal with the wreckage of his life the search for Chandra has revealed.

Revealed ... not created. He created this stuff himself.

But he should take heart. Kennedy Smith is yet more proof that America has a short memory.

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