A Cautious Man
August 12, 2004
Everybody's Got a Secret, Sonny ...
... and the Governor of my state, New Jersey, had one heck of a secret, which he told us about today. The full text is at this link (courtesy of Curmudgeon at Mapleberry Blog, so you don't have to register at the New York Times to read it). It's a personal tragedy, more than anything else - a tragedy not because he's gay, but because he has felt the need to try to live his life being something that he's not. I was particularly struck by two phrases in the Governor's speech (which, love him or hate him, has to be regarded as a powerfully direct statement):
But because of my resolve, and also thinking that I was doing the right thing, I forced what I thought was an acceptable reality onto myself, a reality which is layered and layered with all the, quote, good things, and all the, quote, right things of typical adolescent and adult behavior.

It makes little difference that as governor I am gay. In fact, having the ability to truthfully set forth my identity might have enabled me to be more forthright in fulfilling and discharging my constitutional obligations.
That's really the tragic part, isn't it? In both his personal, and professional lives, he felt the need to subordinate who he really was, to present a different face to the world. It's a personal tragedy, because of the effect this will have (especially given the very public nature of this disclosure) on the lives of his wife and daughters. And, it's political tragedy, in light of the fact that he may well have compromised his principles as part of his effort to keep his secret.

And, unfortunately, this is a political tragedy which some may try to exploit, not just in New Jersey but throughout the country. Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog has realized the potential national use (or abuse) in Governor McGreevey's personal tragedy:
First of all, the GOP is about to make him John Kerry's running mate. Not all over the country, mind you -- you won't hear gay-bashing at the faux-moderate convention -- but on talk radio and the Internet, and probably above the radar as well, albeit in code words. And I'm sure they'd love to turn the guy who plans to sue him into the next Paula Jones. If they can make an even barely plausible case that he's truly a wronged gay lover, then all bets are off -- they can play this everywhere; they can play it as outrage at abuse of power for the swing voters while working the homophobia and aren't-Democrats-freaks? angle for everyone else.

They're certainly going to play McGreevey's decision to hang on until November as a sleazy Democratic trick -- and now the various nonsexual scandals of the McGreevey years (scroll down to paragraph 14 in this story for a brief summary) will go national. McGreevey may even bump the Swift boat Kerry haters from their spot at the top of the Fox News charts.
Unfortunately, that's an all-too-plausible scenario. And do you want to know the real funny thing about that?

It's this - I don't think any of the mainstream Republicans would want McGreevey to resign earlier, so that there was a gubernatorial election this November. That's because there's only one guy who's up and ready to go with a campaign on short notice: Bret Schundler, his opponent in the 2001 election, chair of an organization called "Empower the People", and who has been gearing up for the 2005 election. Mr. Schundler is still the favorite of conservative New Jersey Republicans - but, this being New Jersey, a lot of the Republicans (especially those in office) are more moderate. For the Republican establishment, if the choice is a quick election which Mr. Schundler is ready for, or an election next year, I think they'd choose the latter.

So, if it is true that the national Republicans will be using Governor McGreevey's situation to attack the Democrats, I think New Jersey's Republicans have their own little secret - and are happy to wait until next year for the gubernatorial election.



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