Friday, August 13, 2004


I suppose it'll take a little awhile before the full story trickles out, if it ever does, but if this report can be believed it's rather sad. So far, it sounds like McGreevey was the victim of being the target of blackmail by a former lover, and that there is no legitimate lawsuit in the works. If that's the case, we have a politician who resigned because he was forced to publicly reveal his previously hidden sexual orientation. That's something which should never happen again.

Sure, it's probably not that simple. And, you don't have to be gay to be party to a "sex scandal" or be open to blackmail over such a thing. But, public revelations of adultery generally don't derail the careers of straight politicians, though they obviously aren't particularly helpful.

...look, yes I know there are other reasons McGreevey was in a weakened position politically. Yes, I know that putting your lover on the payroll (assuming that happened - his lover was on the payroll, though as far as I can tell it hasn't been 100% established that they were lovers before he was put on the payroll) isn't a particularly good thing for a politician to do, though that hasn't stopped many from doing it.

But I find people who think he's trying to cry victim over this pretty disgusting -- I didn't get that from the speech at all. If, as is being claimed, he was effectively being blackmailed then coming out in that fashion was the necessary and proper course of action, both for McGreevey the man and McGreevey the governor.

And, for those who are just offended that he was closeted and married, as if that kind of dishonesty itself results from some deep character flaw -- well, it does in a way, but it's the kind of character flaw a huge number of people who were born almost 5 decades ago, growing up Catholic, have. It's what happens when you're told your existence is sinful, that your perfectly normal desires are "temptations" to be resisted, and when you live in a society that does not allow you to live anything resembling a "normal" life. It's what happens when you're bombarded with media and social messages about how disgusting you are, and when you're told you should go for re-education by "ex-gay" organizations. There's no sin in being gay and ambitious, and recognizing the incompatibility of the two.

None of this absolves him from all responsibility for the complex personal situation he's created for himself (though, that is almost entirely a private matter, even for someone with a public life). And, sure there may be the kinds of corruption people keep making allegations about, though I haven't yet seen any indictments. But, at the end of the day there's one simple question -- if everything was as it was, except Cipel was female, would McGreevey have felt the need to resign? I don't have the answer to that, but it seems to me the answer is likely "maybe not."

...for those who can't read, in no place in this post did I address the question of whether, given the facts on the table, I personally think he was fit to be governor or whether I think he should have resigned. There are lots of politicians I think should resign, but strangely few do.