Excerpts of McGreevey’s Book Are No Real “Confession”

By Steve Adubato, Ph.D. I have no problem with former Governor Jim McGreevey raking in $500,000 for his book called “The Confession”due out in September. McGreevey is in a tough spot. It’s very hard for a guy who left office the way he did to make a legitimate buck practicing law, running a non-profit or taking a corporate job. As for running for office again, that will never happen. So, McGreevey enters the world of publishing and makes $500,000 promising to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth”the good, the bad and the ugly; the embarrassing and the scandalous. But here’s the catch. Last week, excerpts from McGreevey’s book were released at something called “Book Expo America”in Washington, D.C. Those excerpts were excerpted in front page stories in a variety of newspapers. Check this one out from the Star-Ledger on May 21; “How do you live with such shame? How do you accommodate your own disappointments, your own revulsions with who you have become?…Here’s how: You spit in two.” Or, “I knew I would have to lie for the rest of my life — and I knew I was capable of it. The knowledge gave me a feeling of terrible power.” Then, McGreevey gets into the really juicy stuff, the kind of revelations that got him booked on Oprah in the fall right before the book comes out. “As the years went on, I became an avid womanizer as anybody else on the New Jersey political scene¦But my attraction was largely artificial, my sexual performance a triumph of mind over matter.” (You’re kidding, right?) Then more on sex and its connection to New Jersey politics; “The more the rumors circulated, the more public and brazen I became about my heterosexual conquests. I started checking out the strip clubs in Linden and Carteret with friends. It was amazing to me how often we ran into local political operatives in such places”because a great deal of New Jersey’s backroom business is conducted by men while folding bills into the waistbands of women dancing in their laps.” (That’s funny. I’ve been to strip clubs, and I can’t ever remember a meaningful piece of political or other business ever taking place.) Later, McGreevey talks about chasing his political dream, but still having to hide his sexual orientation. He talks about anonymous sexual encounters; “When I made it my goal to rid myself of the desire, I was disavowing something else: my authentic self, my humanity. But desire doesn’t go away under this kind of pressure. It mutates. In my case it went from the simply passions of a young adult-for physical and romantic love and happiness”to a particularly rank, unfulfilling variety of lust.” He goes on to talk about having sex with guys he didn’t know or care about and wanting just to be held by another man. It is all very fascinating, except here is what the so-far released excerpts from McGreevey’s book misses”The biggest reason Jim McGreevey was disgraced and was forced to resign had little if anything to do with him being gay. It was the fact that one of the guys that he was intimately involved with, Golan Cipel, was placed in an absurdly influential position when McGreevey was governor. Not only did McGreevey bring him from Israel where they met and place him in high paying, powerful positions within his office, he compounded matters by trying to appoint Cipel as the head of homeland security in the state AFTER September 11. Can you imagine? As governor, McGreevey tried to put 8 million New Jersey lives at risk by putting his boyfriend (with absolutely no security, law enforcement or really any professional experience at all) in charge of the most sensitive and important position in the state after the worst terrorist attack in American history. It was insane. This was never about McGreevey being gay and having to fight his demons. It was about the fact that on so many levels he lacked a sense of integrity and honesty when it came to being an elected official with real power. It was about unbelievably bad judgment. What McGreevey excerpts don’t mention is that after he had to get rid of Cipel and distance himself, he did everything he could to get him high paying jobs in public relations and government consulting firms who did business directly with the state. Simply put, Jim McGreevey was compromising the governor’s office so that he could make sure his lover (or ex-lover) was well taken care of and would hopefully keep his mouth shut. It is not about being gay. It would have been just as bad if Jim McGreevey were heterosexual and he tried to have his mistress head up homeland security and later hook her up in jobs with firms doing business with the state government that she clearly wasn’t qualified for. The bigger, more important story about Jim McGreevey was that one had a sense that he was willing to do or say absolutely anything in order to get and then hold on to political power. Him hiding his sexuality, getting married twice and having two daughters is bad enough. However, as a commentator, his private life shouldn’t be my business or any one else’s. The problem is that what he did privately just simply mirrors the countless decisions Jim McGreevey made and the deals that he struck with all kinds of shady, unscrupulous, not to mention unethical characters from whom he took tens of thousands of dollars from in political contributions and then tried to do favors for them once in office. McGreevey cut deals with political bosses who had way too much influence on him. Those who understand how Trenton works knew that McGreevey had sold out to those he needed in order to get the governorship, which he became obsessed by. That is, until he could one day run for president. (No, seriously. That was his plan.) The irony is that McGreevey being gay was never the issue. It was all of the other things he did that made him no longer tenable as the state’s chief executive. If McGreevey’s book is called “The Confession,”this apparently refers to the statement he made in the August 12, 2004 press conference when he announced; “I am a gay American.” Fact is, most of us either involved in New Jersey government or covering it already knew that. Most of us didn’t really care. That was McGreevey’s private business, not ours. But Jim McGreevey is no dummy. He knows that the way to sell books, get on Oprah and pay back the publisher who gave him a $500,000 advance is to talk about sex. It is to engage in sensationalism and hyperbole. It is to talk about his personal struggle of being Irish-Catholic and having to hide his sexual orientation. Simply put, on some level, McGreevey has mastered the art of making himself a sympathetic victim under the guise of being brutally honest about his past. Again, I have no beef with Jim McGreevey taking whatever money he can to write this book. However, we should never confuse the sensationalism necessary to sell “The Confession”with the painful truths of how he used his power and influence as governor to do some amazingly unethical, embarrassing, and potentially criminal things. That’s the book I’m waiting Jim McGreevey to write. Until he does, Oprah can have him, and trust me, she’ll never ask him about any of that. Yet, the rest of us in New Jersey still have to live with the horrific mess Jim McGreevey left us.

Excerpts of McGreevey’s Book Are No Real “Confession”