Three disgraced politicians found their way back into the news over the last two weeks. Only one of them has earned the public’s forgiveness. Only one of them can claim to have learned anything from his fall from grace.
His name is Jim McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey who resigned amid a sex scandal in 2004.
While Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner were plotting their return to public office over the last few years, Jim McGreevey was counseling prisoners in Hudson County. While Mr. Spitzer and Mr. Weiner rehearsed words of contrition supplied to them by flunkies and hangers-on, Mr. McGreevey delivered words of encouragement and inspiration to recovering drug addicts desperately trying to save themselves and their families.
Messrs. Spitzer and Weiner still yearn for the power of high elective office, and if recent polls are any indication, there is a good chance that one or both will capture the Democratic Party nomination for comptroller or mayor, respectively.
Mr. McGreevey, in his own very different way, also has returned to public service. The newly elected mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, has hired Mr. McGreevey to serve as executive director of the city’s Employment and Training Commission. In that position, the former governor will match job seekers with job creators and will continue his redemptive work in placing ex-
offenders in training programs and jobs.
Mayor Fulop deserves credit for recognizing Mr. McGreevey’s talents and commitment to minister to those who want nothing more than a second chance in life. Mr. McGreevey’s new job is not glamorous work. It is merely necessary work, the sort of work you simply can’t imagine Mr. Spitzer or Mr. Weiner performing—even if it got them a satisfying publicity fix.
Mr. Spitzer and Mr. Weiner remain addicted to the power and majesty of elective office. Mr. McGreevey was no less dependent on applause and glory during his years of training to become governor. But unlike his colleagues in New York, Mr. McGreevey has kicked the habit and is a better man today than he was a decade ago.
Jim McGreevey learned a great deal about himself and about true public service after he left office. Like the women he has counseled and inspired, he deserves a second chance.
Kudos to Mayor Fulop for giving him the opportunity.
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