The McGreevey affair

By WND Staff

The resignation of New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey seems to be a considerably more complicated affair than it first appeared.

That many political figures are homosexual is hardly news. And, provided they take care to keep their private lives confidential and separate from their public activities, plenty of them have survived and prospered in American politics. Indeed, in recent years, as public opinion has grown more tolerant in matters of sexual behavior, a number of politicians have openly acknowledged that they are “gay,” and continued to win re-election.

The problems begin when a man (it is usually a man) allows himself to become involved in situations that inevitably conflict with his sexual inclinations. McGreevey, who apparently was originally uncertain of his sexual identity, attempted to live a heterosexual life by marrying and fathering a daughter. (Indeed, he married twice, and fathered two daughters.) But that, tragically, failed to resolve his situation, and instead complicated it enormously, for now any homosexual affair was a violation of his marriage vows, and an act of adultery.

But McGreevey did not stop there. In 2000, when he was still mayor of Woodbridge, N.J., he made a trade and political trip to Israel. There he met and supposedly became involved with Golan Cipel, an Israeli 12 years his junior, who was the public information officer of a town near Tel Aviv. Back home and running for governor in 2001, McGreevey brought Cipel to this country and hired him as a campaign adviser. In 2002, now governor, he appointed Cipel as his homeland security adviser, at a state salary of $110,000. These actions inevitably caused gossip, and in six months Cipel was forced to resign the state job – whereupon McGreevey managed to find him private employment in New York.

That was the state of affairs when rumors of corruption involving various members of the McGreevey administration began surfacing this year. New Jersey politics are notoriously corrupt, even by the usual standards of American politics, but the stench in Trenton got so bad that it seems to have alarmed New Jersey’s Democratic bosses. They control the state, and they were afraid that McGreevey might lose, thanks to the corruption scandals, if he ran for re-election next year. Suddenly, it became necessary to persuade McGreevey to step down, and make way for some new gubernatorial candidate.

We may never know whether McGreevey was asked to do so, but refused the bosses’ bidding. In any case, as writer Finley Peter Dunne’s character Dooley observed, “Politics ain’t beanbag.” McGreevey’s terrible vulnerability in the matter of Golan Cipel suddenly became relevant. Soon, Gov. McGreevey learned that his young Israeli friend (or was he, by now, already an ex-friend?) was planning to sue him for sexual harassment. McGreevey got the message, and fell on his sword.

Interestingly, McGreevey attributed his resignation solely to the prospective disclosure (in Cipel’s lawsuit) of his homosexuality. The problems of the New Jersey Democratic Party went tastefully unmentioned. That suggests that he believed (and I think rightly) that the public would think less unkindly of him for his sexual behavior than for the corruption that has occurred on his watch as governor.

In one other respect as well, McGreevey took care to do the bidding of the Democratic bosses. By postponing his resignation for two months, until Nov. 15, he deprived the people of New Jersey of the opportunity to elect his successor this Election Day (Nov. 2), and ensured that the governorship will remain in the hands of an acting governor (the president of the State Senate – a Democrat, as it happens) for the remaining year of his term.

In these circumstances, it is far too simple to say that James McGreevey was destroyed because he was gay. He allowed that circumstance to become hopelessly entangled in his political career, and thereby handed a weapon to men who couldn’t care less about his private life.