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What's Gay Got to Do with It?

Patrick J. Buchanan

August 18  2004

"Throughout my life, I have grappled with my own identity, who I am. As a young child, I often felt ambivalent about myself ... confused."

Thus did New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey begin his tormented press conference wherein he outed himself as a homosexual, confessed to an adulterous affair with another man and resigned.

"At a point in every person's life," McGreevey intoned, "one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and declare one's unique truth in the world, not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is. And so my truth is that I am a gay American."

McGreevey was asking us to believe that his sexual orientation, over which he had no control, and a single "consensual" affair had forced him to make this heroic act of renunciation of office.

Had the governor's revelation come in a vacuum, it might have been received as the wrenching tale of a man wrestling with his sexuality and honestly facing it. But the circumstances of McGreevey's resignation suggest he is simply throwing a moral blanket over a smelly scandal.

"I realize the fact of this affair and my own sexuality if kept secret leaves me, and ... the governor's office, vulnerable to rumors, false allegations and threats of exposure," said McGreevey." But that isn't even the half of it.

Jim McGreevey is not in a pickle because he is gay. The New Jersey press had long heard rumors he had been out trolling as he climbed the Garden State ladder to the governor's chair. They ignored the reports.

McGreevey's offense is that he dishonored his wife and disgraced himself by failing to curb his appetite for other men. He is no martyr to gay rights. He did not emerge bravely from a closet. He was dynamited out by a 35-year-old Israeli sailor and "poet" he picked up on a junket to Israel, imported and put on the payroll of a friendly fat cat, then on the payroll of the taxpayers of New Jersey as homeland security czar.

McGreevey and aides say Golan Cipel was shaking down the governor for blackmail millions with threats of a civil suit exposing their affair. But Cipel's lawyer says the governor was forever harassing his client, a heterosexual, for sexual favors.

Was McGreevey using his power to force Cipel to submit to his sexual advances, or was Cipel blackmailing his older lover?

The McGreevey press conference was a pre-emptive strike to get out in front of the filing of legal charges against him by his partner in sodomy.

McGreevey's troubles began when he named the sailor-poet to head homeland security. Cipel was an Israeli with credentials so thin the FBI would not deal with him. At least old Wayne Hays parked Elizabeth Ray in the typing pool. He did not try to put her on the National Security Council.

Ousted from his homeland security post, Cipel popped up on the governor's personal staff at $110,000 a year. New Jersey taxpayers were thus subsidizing the secret sex life of their governor.

Even before last week, however, McGreevey was in trouble. Two of his biggest fund-raisers had been indicted, with McGreevey's name appearing 83 times in one indictment and Cipel's name turning up in the other. The stench of corruption from Trenton is overpowering.

But the governor still has a card to play.

"To facilitate a responsible transition," he announced offhandedly at the close of his press conference, "my resignation will be effective on Nov. 15." By putting it off until then, McGreevey is guaranteeing that the new governor, his crony, senate president Richard J. Codey, will serve out the rest of McGreevey's term, until January 2006.

Had McGreevey resigned before Sept. 3, 60 days before the presidential election, New Jersey voters would elect a new governor on Nov. 2. By postponing his resignation, McGreevey is cheating the people of New Jersey of a chance to pass judgment on whether his whole crowd deserves to be blasted out of Trenton.

Why should a governor who his disgraced his office dictate who will hold that office for the next 18 months? Republicans are rightly demanding that McGreevey go now.

Surely, the governor is today going through a personal hell and deserves compassion and the support of his friends. But his conduct raises hard questions. How can it be a natural, normal compulsion that drives a man to take the incredible personal and political risks McGreevey took, of seeking out secret sex with other men, when he knows that exposure means disgrace and ruin, and the humiliation of those he purports to love?

2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

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