In a perfect world Jim McGreevey would ve come out of the closet while still in his 20s becoming an Episcopal priest who ministered to women in prison.
Judging from the poignant scenes in the HBO documentary about him Fall to Grace this kind of work appears to suit him. He s good at it.
Here s the irony though He s good at it only because he was a closeted governor who hid his secret until he couldn t any more then lost everything but his health as a consequence. Power influence respect lodging a marriage gone in an instant.
That puts him in the perfect position to relate to Hudson County Corrections inmates who have lost their freedom jobs and custody of their children because of their crimes.
One small scene in the film shows him with an inmate who bemoans the mess she s made of her life. He counters with the reminder that he had to resign as governor of the state of New Jersey in a sex scandal.
You win she concedes and they both laugh.
When he talks about second chances these women know he is living out his right in front of them.
He does it as a part time employee of Integrity House the drug treatment group. (While he received divinity training with the goal of becoming an Episcopal priest he has yet to be ordained.)
We all like a touching story of redemption broadcast on Easter weekend just to hammer home the point.
Yet it leaves New Jersey voters feeling rather like the bitter divorced wife who sees her ex treating his second wife the way she wished he d treated her.
Why didn t we the taxpayers get this ethical and humble Jim McGreevey We got stuck instead with the win at all cost years of his life s trajectory. And when we say cost we literally mean dollars and cents.
Filmmaker Andrea Pelosi (yes daughter of Nancy) says of her subject Jim is the first to admit that he waited too long to come out of the closet and did too much harm to himself and his family.
All true but she leaves out another 8.9 million victims the residents of New Jersey. We ll never know what deals he cut which cronies he helped what secrets he s still keeping.
It s one thing to be a bank robber who has a change of heart and embarks on an entirely different lifestyle. It s another to be that same bank robber heading off to a new life without revealing where all the stolen money is hidden or which pals are still robbing banks.
In this case he s a former politician who knows where the bodies are buried so to speak and has decided simply to turn the page and move on.
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He set the tone in his 2006 autobiography The Confession in which he was brutally honest about his upbringing and sexual identity yet slipped into I know nothing mode when it came to politics.
He insisted his advisers told him to stay out of the weeds so that he would remain ignorant about the seamier deals made on behalf of his candidacy. He wrote that he never did anything illegal while fundraising But in order to get the money I needed I gave myself a lot more leeway when it came to ethics.
It s seven years later when any of those transgressions can be simply waved away with the statement I have a different value system now.
The McGreevey who ministers to women inmates is passionate energetic and looks to be at peace with himself. In an odd twist of fate he can offer them a unique balm of hope.
We re happy for them. For us Not so much. Still can t shake that ex spouse feeling.