The late great Chuck Colson passed away last month at the age of 80. He was best known for two inextricable acts: (1) having been indicted and convicted for conspiring to cover up the Watergate break-in, and (2) helping pioneer the contemporary evangelical movement in America.
Governor, Pastor, and now “spiritual advisor” Jim McGreevey is attempting to turn over a new leaf of his own, Save Jerseyans. Or at the very least wants everyone to believe that he’s turning a corner of sorts. And what a steep, sloping turn it would need to be!
On Friday, McGreevey addressed the assembled graduates of a Middlesex County Drug Court offender rehabilitation program. The program’s stated goal is to turn drug abusers into productive members of society. A noble goal, to be sure, and one that is near and dear to our current Governor’s heart. McGreevey is also apparently “mentoring” female prisoners.
But I’ve been consistent on this since 2004, Save Jerseyans, and said it again (most recently) after the Episcopal Church said “no thanks,” Jim, you’re not joining our clergy: Jim McGreevey resigned from public office because he was a corrupt, incompetent pervert… NOT because he was a “Gay American.”
The public record is clear and uncontroversial. McGreevey presided over the most thoroughly and openly corrupt regime in New Jersey history – no small feat in this state! Trenton operated like third world kleptocracy. Corruption of both the criminal and institutional variety ran rampant. And when he wasn’t allowing political allies to financially rape and pillage the taxpayers, the staunchly pro-choice McGreevey led a sham marriage that included perverted sexual rest stop meet-ups and an alleged affair with an Israeli national (Mr. Cipel has since said it was sexual harassment and nothing more).
Embarrassing, dangerous, and disgusting behavior unbecoming of a high elected official. THAT was the McGreevey Administration.
Frankly, Chuck Colson’s “sin” boiled down to refusing to stand up to the President of the United States. Was he wrong? Absolutely. But stronger men than him have succumbed to a presidential personality.
Without getting too preachy, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that Mr. McGreevey’s shortcomings were far more extensive, systemic and disturbing. There are real reasons to doubt the sincerity of his late-in-life moral conversion.
Jonah Goldberg said it best back in 2006 around the initial release of McGreevey’s autobiography:
Whatever the truth, it’s clear that McGreevey only came out because the wheels were coming off his political career. He tried to leap to safety by grabbing on to the guardrail of identity politics, declaring with focus-group clarity: “My truth is that I am a gay American.” That formulation — “my truth” — was exquisitely postmodern, implying that truth isn’t something we can all lay claim to any more. It must be personalized, relativized. It’s all about me.”
So I’m not quite ready to accept McGreevey’s efforts as “amazing grace,” Save Jerseyans. Our hyper-tabloid culture loves a good redemption story, and I think that sentiment best explains why some Americans – Evangelical Christian or not – are so eager to instantaneously forgive just about anything perpetrated by a public figure.
Your Blogger-in-Chief, on the other hand, is a practicing Roman Catholic with a cynical Garden State worldview. I believe respect is earned when no one is looking (and book royalties aren’t a motivating factor). Let’s see sustained positive action over a substantial period of time before absolving the worst governor in New Jersey history of his extremely checkered past.