Friday, August 13, 2004

An Inadvertant Victory for the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

A few thoughts on Governor McGreevey:

1) We at the vast right-wing conspiracy thought this guy was totally incorruptible. In our project "A Lewinsky in Every Governor's Mansion" (Legman for short), we sent at least a dozen thong-wearing, beret-donning weight-watchers his way with a pizza to deliver, and nary a one of them required any dry cleaning when they returned to our headquarters. Who knew that we should have been sending him a Stephanopolis?

2) This is actually the one national news story that does not come as a shock to me - it is totally consistent with the story that broke years ago in the Total Soreness Gym, owned and operated by a New Jersey State trooper. The story was relayed to me by my brother Lime, who heard it after throwing up and passing out at the gym. The troopers were responsible for McGreevey's security, which is no easy task for a guy prone to extra-marital homosexual affairs. Did trooper training include learning how to lecture incoming Governors on how to have safe sex? Enquiring minds want to know. And is this the new media feed chain - Total Soreness to Drudge to the blogosphere to Fox and then finally to the majors?

3) "The truth about me is that I am a gay American." Gee, thanks for telling us the truth. I am sure your wife and kids appreciate the timing of your admirable honesty, not to mention the residents of New Jersey. The Human Rights Campaign might consider your admission courageous (they said so), but excuse me if I think otherwise. There will be those who will rush to defend you - oh, what a difficult burden you've lived with (or rather, what a difficult burden that society has forced upon you), but the truth is that you are the least of the victims here. Your wife and kids deserve someone better than you. The voters of New Jersey - at least the majority of them - do deserve you: you are actually a step up from Robert Toricelli on the scandal-meter.

4) But nowadays, regrettably, I fear that being gay will (in the eyes of many) provide this guy some degree of exoneration. Spare me, please. If a straight guy leaves his wife and kids for a hair-dresser, can he have a press conference and announce that the truth about him is that he likes his women younger and more attractive? Maybe I am setting up a straw man here, and no one will really come to his defense - I hope that is the case. But I have reason to doubt that it will be - remember that Episcopal priest who became the first openly gay bishop in that denomination last year? Did you know that he was married at one time and had a couple of kids, and left them because the truth about him was that he was a gay American. One would think such a past of betrayal would be enough to not pick that guy to lead a spiritual flock, but my bet is that you didn't even hear that little tidbit in all the press coverage of that appointment.


Blogger John Wolfram said...

Interesting points. The Hatcher addressed the gayness issue but not the pure politics. The governor is resigning in a way that permits his party to retain the governorship and arguably denies the citizens of NJ their right to elect their governor. CNN states: "His resignation will take effect November 15, and State Senate President Richard Codey, a fellow Democrat, will serve the the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2006. If McGreevey's resignation had taken effect before September 15, state law would have required a special gubernatorial election on November 2."

Now tell me, if his "situation" makes him so unfit to continue as governor, why the 2+ month lag? Pure politics, that's why! Screw the desires of the electorate; just keep our party in office.

Also, I think you have a classic example here of how pain rather than morals or ethics motivates people. Why should we feel like this man is taking the high road when in fact he is only reacting to the threat of a lawsuit? He is only apologetic because he got caught; he was about to be exposed and wanted to beat the punch and secure control of the message -- to the extent that is possible.

Prediction: the flashy "gay" issue will subside and the more poignant "electoral manipulation" issue will rise front and center.

Thoughts from the Hatcher?

8:20 AM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

Comment #1: Neither being gay nor having an affair disqualifies a person from holding office. The governor has decided that he does not wish to run for re-election under this situation and has decided to resign. Since it is his choice to resign and he is not legally compelled to do so, it is also his decision to decide when to make that resignation effective. It is political, but it also in keeping with the wishes of the NJ voters who selected a Dem. and would generally wish a Dem. to stay in office.

Comment #2: Hatch suggests that society will take it easier on the governor because it is a homosexual affair. I bet I can name 50 prominent politicians who have had heterosexual affairs while in office, divorced their wives, and gone on to later political success. Are there any politicians who have survived a homosexual affair and divorce? Yeah, society is pretty forgiving of homosexuality.

Comment #3: The whole situation, like any event that destroys personal lives, is an absolute tragedy for everyone involved including the governor and his entire family. While Hatch often says things that I disagree with, he is rarely cruel. Poking fun at this tragic personal situation is well-below his usual level of dignity. There are some valid intellectual points that can be made regarding this case, but Hatch should be ashamed of his tasteless attempts at humor.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

Ouch! True, there are many straight politicians who have had affairs and did damage to their families as well. I agree that the same degree of opprobrium should be directed their way, and that it probably isn't. Professor Vic is right - I have only targeted one-half of the moral obtuseness that surrounds this issue. That said, I don't think that I am wrong about that moral obtuseness - McGreevey is responsible for actions that have hurt his family and the state, and though he has obviously hurt himself in the process, who does he have to blame? My sympathy extends to his family, but not to him. But so far I haven't read one article on him that didn't have at least one comment from an organization that failed to call him courageous or lay on some other admiring term. Are you telling me that you'd see this if he were straight?

As for the voters electing a Dem, say what? They elected a specific candidate who is now denying them the ability to choose a Governor to their liking to replace the one who has let them down. You call that Democratic?

You are right, however, the humor at his expense is wrong in so far as it hurts his family. For that I apologize.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

While I certainly can't accept an apology on behalf of the governor, I certainly appreciate Hatch's follow-up post. It's much more in line with his usual sensibilities.

The timing of the resignation is simply a tough issue. If a Republican were in line to take over, would the Republicans be calling for a quick resignation knowing that a quick resignation would allow the Dems. a chance to recapture the governor's mansion in November? I doubt it.

There is, of course, a reasonable argument to be made that resigning immediately hurts governence in NJ by preventing an orderly transition. It is also slightly unlucky that there is no lieutenent governor elected state-wide to take his place in which case and immediate resignation would make complete sense. Still, unless someone can convince me that an affair or being gay requires an immediate resignation, his retirement date is his choice.

As for national reaction to the resignation, it is courageous to come out of the closet in a society where a significant percentage of people have strong anti-homosexual attitudes. For that he deserves praise and credit. (I am willing to admit that if the story was about to break anyway, coming out is hardly worth much commendation.)

It is also always contemptible to have an affair. I don't think anyone has praised his deceit. Even several gay politicians have come out and denounced him covering up his sexuality during the last election. The only thing I have really seen written on his behalf is that assertation, which I believe is entirely true, that if he had been engaged in a heterosexual affair, he would have felt much less pressure to resign. In other words, a heterosexual man can make mistakes that a homosexual man cannot.

What is unfortunate, in my opinion, is that a much larger number of people would refuse to vote for a politician because he is gay than would refuse to vote for a politician because he divorced his wife after an affair. A faithful gay man has far more character than a cheating straight man, yet Congress is filled with divorcees and only a grand total of 3 homosexuals.

While I am at it, I find it reprehensible that society feels a compelling need to defend marriages such as the 11-hour one between Brittany Spears and her childhood friend from the threat posed by my old neighbors Ralph and Albert, and couple for the last 15 years. Probably best left for another day, however.

11:59 AM  
Blogger John Wolfram said...

All good discussion. I live in Kentucky, where two years ago the Governor had a heterosexual affair that became public at the time of -- you guessed it -- a threatened lawsuit. He held a press conference and apologized and cried and we were all sufficiently and appropriately moved. This was about 7 months before the gubernatorial election (for which he didn't qualify due to term limits). The resignation pressure rose but not much because the lieutenant governor was in a bit of a legal bind himself - but that's another story. (Can you guess to which party these fellas belong?) In short, the Gov did not resign but might as well have because he became completely ineffective, couldn't pass any laws, inspired no one, fed a nonsensical media frenzy for months, and likely cost his party the election that November. Kind of reminds me of a former President actually, except that OUR former Governor isn't signing any books or inspiring people in Harlem.

In KY, the new Governor is sworn in about 6 weeks after election day. In my view, such a practice would permit more than sufficient time for gubernatorial transition in the Garden State, if the Governor there would stand up and let the voice of the people be heard in the present tense.

2:22 PM  

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