August 12, 2004


[Sigh.] OK, I guess this is on my beat.

By now you all know that Governor James McGreevey has come out of the closet as a "gay American" and resigned his post. But this is old news. Every single politically astute person in New Jersey has known about McGreevey's homosexuality for a long time - at least since 2001. In fact, McGreevey's elaborate efforts to stay in the closet were a source of periodic amusement to New Jerseyites, as when he shattered his femur in 2002 while in the company of his boyfriend, and then concocted an elaborate cover story that claimed the injury occurred while walking down the beach with his wife. (The femur is the strongest bone in the body, and it takes 1200-1800 pounds of pressure to break it.)

In 2001, during McGreevey's successful campaign for governor, his homosexuality was widely known among both parties. Bret Schundler, the Republican candidate, to his credit chose not to make an issue of it. McGreevey could not have been sure of Schundler's decency in advance (or even that Schundler would be the nominee, for reasons too complicated to go into here), and so had made defensive preparations. Or perhaps it was simply amazingly convenient timing that McGreevey and his wife conceived a child early in the campaign, and that his wife was thus enormously pregnant in the final weeks leading up to Election Day.

So why has McGreevey come out of the closet now? And so publicly? Simply put, he's in deep doo-doo, and needs a way out. His administration has been wracked with scandal to a degree that well exceeds even the norms of New Jersey. There are at least two distinct rumors of lawsuits or complaints about to be filed, which seem sufficiently distinct to me that they may possibly concern two different men. One of the rumors definitely concerns an Israeli national named Golan Cipel, whom McGreevey appointed to a high paying state anti-terrorism post, before complaints of Cipel's lack of qualifications caused the governor to withdraw the appointment. Were Cipel to admit a sexual relationship, McGreevey's conduct on this matter may be indictable. By resigning - and simultaneously declaring himself a member of a persecuted minority - McGreevey may be able to dodge this and any number of other criminal investigations.

The current US Attorney for New Jersey is a Republican appointee named Christopher Christie. Christie has made a name for himself going after corrupt New Jersey officials all over the political spectrum. Crooked politicians in New Jersey are terrified of him, and I would expect McGreevey is no exception. Yet even the ferocious Christie may blanch at the idea of prosecuting Gay America's new poster boy.

So this is a standard CYA move by McGreevey. It will probably get him out of his legal problems, and it will probably get him out of some of his messier personal life problems. If he'd had the sense to do it six weeks ago, he almost assuredly would have been offered a keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. Coming out on national TV increases his political profile, and saves his career at the same time. We'll be seeing a lot more of him in the future. Count on it.

Posted by Sterling at 11:16 PM GMT

V cynical of you, Sterling, but this is undoubtedly the end of McGreevey's political career. His homosexuality is a bad thing, politically, but it's not a career-killer in and of itself; his hypocrisy and corruption, on the other hand, are. Plus, he has no one in high places who's desperate to see him reinstated (see Mandelson, Peter).

What is it about NJ pols, though? First Toricelli, now this? Is NJ the most politically corrupt state in the union? Is it pipped to that post by Nevada?

Posted by: Felix on August 12, 2004 11:47 PM

I doubt very much that McGreevey is finished, Felix. You underestimate his drive, and overestimate the damage this will do him. He just became a national political figure, and probably dodged prosecution, in one swipe.

New Jersey is astonishingly corrupt, and has been for a very long time. It has to do in part with the large number of recent immigrants and unassimilated descendants of immigrants, and the ability to manipulate them for electoral purposes. Additionally, there's a tendency for one party to dominate county politics in NJ. Hudson County, Essex County, Camden County and Atlantic County are all Democrat strongholds and are almost unbelievably corrupt. A lot of the Republican-dominated counties are corrupt, too, and just as thoroughly, but the severity of the offenses tends to be less.

Posted by: Sterling on August 12, 2004 11:55 PM

It's funny that you think I was being cynical, though. I was actually giving the guy as much of the benefit of the doubt as I could.

Posted by: Sterling on August 13, 2004 12:01 AM

Sterling is exactly right. More than one message board and newspaper has speculated on McGreevey's sexuality well before this "stunning" disclosure. There was discussion that the reason the church in NJ has been so adamant about the issue of communion was McG's sexuality. Mark my words, this guy is young for a politician -- he'll be back. As I was listening to his speech today, all I could think was: This guy is using this gay thing as spin. I couldn't believe the subsequent interviews when people lauded his announcement as courageous. (Lest anyone think I am partisan, trust me, I could give shit about either party.)

Posted by: La Depressionada on August 13, 2004 03:18 AM

This afternoon I kind of became obsessed with the circumstances of McGreevey's first marriage. First of all, it was very difficult to find the name -- Kari Schutz. The divorce papers are sealed, not unusual, but there was an allegation by KS that McG was timing his visits with his daughter, Morag, to coincide with his campaign appearances. By all reports, he is extremely ambitious and incredibly calculating, and I am fairly certain his current wife went into this thing with eyes open. (Especially if you believe reports that she was rushed in to cover a vacation acccident.)

He's got to stay in office until 9/15 to avoid another election. The question is: how tough is he? What pressure can his purported blackmailers and/or the Republican party bring to bear before then?

Posted by: la depressionada on August 13, 2004 03:37 AM

The NJ GOP is still standing there with its collective mouth agape, trust me. If it had a motto, it would be "Careerism and Nepotism, Forever". For them it's all about the government jobs and the government contracts, and they have so much riding on county and municipal elections in November that they would not dare to rock the boat on something as shark-infested as the gay issues debate. They aren't going to touch McGreevey with a ten foot pole, for fear of being labelled homophobic and losing a county Board of Chosen Freeholders or three.

Posted by: Sterling on August 13, 2004 03:49 AM

"unassimilated descendants of immigrants"? Geez, Sterl, I didn't think you'd be so hard on the Anglophile fetishists in horse country. Of course, maybe you are just bitter about your blood relation to all those socialists in Scandinavia. Come on, say it with me: dagos and darkies. Don't be afraid, wear it loud, wear it proud, you cracker mutherfucker.

Posted by: Mr. 99th Percentile on August 13, 2004 04:00 AM

Sterling: Your analysis of corruption in New Jersey isn't persuasive.

First, NJ politics has its characters, but I wouldn't call the state "astonishingly" corrupt. It's not even among the 10 most corrupt states, according to a recent study based on Dep't of Justice statistics. Illinois and NY rank higher in that study. So do Kentucky, North Dakota, Alaska, and Ohio--all places without, ahem, a "large number of recent immigrants and unassimilated descendants of immigrants" as you put it.

Second, Jim Trefinger (Republican) was head of Essex County before the Federal Government prosecuted him for corruption. I don't see how Essex County's being a Democratic stronghold can explain that.

Third, NJ's corruption problem is one of reality greatly exaggerated by perception. That perception is driven by the snobs in the NY media--especially the NY Times, which never misses an opportunity on its Editorial page to lecture the bridge and tunnel crowd in NJ about their inferiority.

Posted by: Dinky on August 13, 2004 04:03 AM

Well, Mr. 99th Percentile, I was born in Bergen County, NJ, grew up at the Shore, and spent 7 of the last 7.5 years living in Jersey City. Both of my grandmothers were Irish Catholics, one was born in Jersey City and one in Newark.

And so I am at liberty to say that the Irish who remained throughout the 20th century in Jersey City have a lot to answer for. The put themselves on the government payroll, and they endeavored energetically to keep other ethnic groups in a lesser position. Over time the Italians were able to work their way in, as well, and some Poles, but the Hudson County Democrat Machine was able to exclude blacks and Latinos to a startling degree. Bret Schundler was able to get elected mayor of Jersey City - the first GOP mayor in 80 years - largely by appealing to blacks and Latinos and promising to include them, and address their needs. A promise he lived up to.

I consider those Jersey City Irish to be not fully assimilated, as they are still practicing the same corrupt ward politics that their ancestors did a hundred years ago. So I'm talking about white people in that regard. And since there are not very many Bret Schundlers out there, recent arrivals are usually convinced to vote for the Democrat machine, often several times.

Dinky, you're right about Essex County. I realized my error as soon as I wrote it. In my head I was equating Newark with all of Essex County, which is not correct and is misleading. I have no opinion on the DoJ's pronouncements regarding varying levels of corruption in various states, but it seems to me that the DoJ would have no real idea how much corruption they were not catching. Bill Clinton, for instance was politically close to Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski, who was so transparently corrupt that it was almost funny.

I don't know how to convince you that the level of corruption is "astonishing", except to say that it regularly astonished me, and I worked for several years providing professional services to lobbyists on Capitol Hill.

Posted by: Sterling on August 13, 2004 04:25 AM

I guess it's just not as much fun so say 'New Jersey is corrupt because of white people' since that wouldn't make it all that exceptional.

Posted by: Mr. 99th Percentile on August 13, 2004 05:00 AM

To suggest that inclination to corruption is a racial trait would be bigoted and ignorant.

Posted by: Sterling on August 13, 2004 05:57 AM

Well, unless New Jersey is run by the folks that gave Hopatcong its name, anyone who self-identifies with the place their ancestors more recently lived is an unassimilated immigrant. Were to I go back to the land of my grandparents, I really don't expect anyone to say they are Visgoth, for instance. And if your 'recent immigrant' comment is really meant to apply to the Irish families who emigrated anywhere from 70 to 150 years ago, well, your Anglophile desperation truly is crowding your reason.

Posted by: Mr. 99th Percentile on August 13, 2004 01:04 PM

This is most definitely a Drive-by. I followed the link from Lucianne, and would say I'm probably not going to respond back if this gets answered.

Nice post, Sterling.

Unfortunately, what really jumps out at me is Mr. 99th Percentile, perfectly exemplifying the Democrat's standard response of "Bigot" to any issue.

Despite a post from Sterling which is more or less vanilla in it's objectivity regarding the topic, 99th takes the opportunity to call Sterling a racist for ignoring the race of certain voting groups. Forget the topic. What's really important is all RepubliKKKAns are racists.

Thanks, 99th. This is the first thing I read this a.m. and had forgotten my morning prayers to Hitler.


Posted by: krakatoa on August 13, 2004 02:30 PM

Wow, I knew you'd livened up the site, Sterling, but I didn't realise that after you arrived we'd also start getting linked to from! This could be fun...

Posted by: Felix on August 13, 2004 02:35 PM

Strap yourself in, Felix.

Posted by: Sterling on August 13, 2004 02:44 PM

I called Sterling a cracker, not a racist. I thought I accussed him of being intellectuall lazy. I've been trying to align myself with an oppressed group for some time, and it seems I have succeeded. Anyone who impinges WOPs is a racist in lucianne-land. Woo-hoo! I'll start the reparations committee ASAP. Oh, and I have't voted for a Democrat in over a decade (and haven't missed a single election).

Posted by: Mr. 99th Percentile on August 13, 2004 03:18 PM

This self-centered and sexually twisted puke is as transparent as window glass. There he stands, hat in hand, as the poor and picked on queer that he is. His wife, to her everlasting shame, has earned contempt as she smiles and holds his hand as he whines to the media. Brave soul that he wants us to believe he is, he's jerked NJ around with his corruption, slept with men, women, had kids, two wives, and who knows what else. Now he wants to retain the governorship through the election�a final act of dumping on the state. I hope Christie hangs him out to dry like the dirty laundry he is.

Posted by: EAJ1 on August 13, 2004 03:48 PM

I've lived in NJ for 36 years. The state government is, and has been, an ongoing criminal enterprise. The only way to fix the situation is for the people to throw every incumbent politician out of office and start over. Somehow, I don't think that's going to happen.

Posted by: Chesh_Cat on August 13, 2004 04:13 PM

Ok, I lied. Swung back thru for a further look.

I must apologize to Mr. 99th. Obviously I missed his between-the-between-the-lines conclusion by focusing on what he actually typed and noting it's similarity to the reactionary statments of such luminaries as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and such objective organizations like CAIR.

By all means, I bow to his intellectual superiority.

Re. Lucianne. I don't post there because they don't accept hotmail or yahoo addresses, which I find fairly annoying. Quite a few of the people who do post there are deeply in love with their ideology to the exclusion of considering anything outside of their own belief structure.

However, I find it a great source for the types of news the NYT and Main Stream Media deem Unfit to print.

Posted by: krakatoa on August 13, 2004 06:13 PM

You don't need to apologize for - I read it every day. I've even gone to an event! In late '98, I was one of the protestors across the street from a Clinton fundraiser across the street from the Lion King in Manhattan, during the impeachment struggle.

I carried a sign that said "Loin King".

Posted by: Sterling on August 13, 2004 07:08 PM

Whoops - should have proofed that. The fundraiser was in the theatre on 44th St. that the Lion King was (is?) playing in. I was with the other protestors across the street.

Posted by: Sterling on August 13, 2004 07:11 PM

I can see why people consider NJ a little more corrupt than most states. About 20 years ago I sat in the kitchen of a friend's house and listened as people peripherally involved with an organization normally associated with trash removal and dog racing decided on who the local candidates would be -- for both parties! It was quite an eye opener.

Posted by: NJ Visitor on August 13, 2004 08:01 PM

You boys can just call me "The Rainmaker" from now on.

Posted by: Sterling on August 14, 2004 05:52 AM

I think we can safely say that there is a common factor to MemeFirst's most popular posts. See if you can find it:

1. Spoof Puma blowjob ads
2. McGreevey sex scandal
3. Paris Hilton sex tape
4. Prince Charles sex rumors
5. The Dogging post

All other popular posts are either about real estate or beheadings. Let's see if we can combine all three popular topics in the future, ok?

Posted by: Stefan Geens on August 14, 2004 11:31 AM