Saturday, August 14, 2004

Will New Jersey Go Republican, Giving W A Second Term?

Arianna Huffington writes, brilliantly, on hearing the news of Governor McGreevy's resignation in her latest column:

"On Thursday, my day started at eight in the morning speaking together withNew Jersey Senator John Corzine at a breakfast sponsored by ANGLE -- an organization consisting of the gay and lesbian leadership of Southern California and a magnet for political candidates running for office and raising funds. A couple of hours after I had left the breakfast, where I had been surrounded by successful gay men and women -- businesspeople, politicians, accountants, even a priest -- my phone started ringing off the hook. New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey had just resigned and announced that he is gay, and it seemed as if the bookers from every television talk show in America -- from CNN�s 'American Morning' to ABC�s 'Nightline' -- had simultaneously had the exact same thought: 'Let's get Arianna Huffington.' I was the proverbial two birds being killed with one stone -- a political commentator whose ex-husband had come out as gay.

"As the day progressed, it became clear that this was a story unfolding on so many levels only a Shakespearean drama or a Verdi opera could do justice to it. There was the personal, the political, possibly the legal, and who knows what else to be revealed by the time we get to Act Five.

"But we are still in Act One. And in Act One the spotlight is on the nexus of the personal and the political. McGreevey�s resignation announcement was undoubtedly the best political speech he�s ever made. It was powerful, compelling, emotional, and in sharp contrast to the pre-packaged speechifying we are so accustomed to hearing from politicians. At this profound crisis point in his political and personal lives he soundedalmost liberated."

I agree with Arianna's acute assessment. Until this moment, McGreevy was the prototypical pol -- oily, contrived, promiscuous in the meting out handshakes, overly groomed politican hair, the pretty blonde wife not overly attractive, the demure children, the Christianity professed publicly, the moderate positions on every possible issue -- his entire career was calculated never to rasp. And then his world got rocked, not for the affair -- who cares, so many in the alpha-male politician game have them -- but the negative weight of the upcoming sexual harassment suit will add onto the corruptions charges that have dogged his adminitration for the past year.

That having been said, those corruption charges have been tossed -- with incredible aggression -- by a rejuvinated Republican GOP. In the past moribund, especially after the ancient Frank Lautenberg was unmummified and run against the better man, Doug Forrester, whom he beat, thus embittering the GOP. Now the New Jersey Republican Party is back, revivified, angry, and in rare form, no doubt Karl Rove's fingerprints are all over that little crime scene.

Remember that disgusting story that the incoming leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden had decided that Gov. James E. McGreevey could NOT receive communion? That story broke, BTW, May 1, 2004, when the hunt was in full bloom) Now, tell me McGreevy was not being hunted. From my angle, he was in the crosshairs and you could smell the gunpowder. Ever since May, when the Archdiosis of Camden refused him communion, there has been a quickening of the attacks, a building sense of phantom meance and inevitability enshrowing Trenton. I believe the Republicans have it all figured out on how to win Jersey and it centers on the "culture of corruption":

Here are some other scandals with the McGreevy Administration, from 1010 WINS (From July, incidentally, before McGreevy resigned):

"--(McGreevy's) first chief of staff, Gary Taffet, is under investigation (Ed Note: He was indicted by the SEC), along with former McGreevey counsel Paul Levinsohn, for securing contracts to put up billboards on public property at the same time they were running McGreevey's campaign. Taffet has also been charged with insider trading in an unrelated case.

"--Attorney General Peter Harvey was fined $1,500 in February and agreed to reimburse two boxing promoters $2,200 after obtaining free ringside passes for his wife and two guests in Atlantic City.

"--Democratic fund-raiser David D'Amiano -- a former high school classmate of McGreevey's -- was indicted on July 6, charged with trying to extort $40,000 in campaign donations from a dairy farmer in exchange for help in getting a better price from the county for his land. Prosecutors said an unidentified state official -- McGreevey later said it was he -- was secretly tape-recorded using the code word 'Machiavelli' for the alleged extortion scheme; McGreevey said his reference to the 16th-century Italian author of 'The Prince' was a coincidental literary allusion, nothing more.

"--McGreevey's commerce secretary, William Watley, quit earlier this month amid reports he funneled money to businesses owned by him and family members.

"--The most sensational allegations came last week in the case of real estate developer Charles Kushner, 50, who as McGreevey's biggest campaign contributor has given millions to his campaigns and was once nominated by him for the top job at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Kushner was charged with trying to thwart a federal campaign-finance investigation by luring a grand jury witness -- his own brother-in-law -- into a compromising position with a prostitute and sending video and photos to the man's wife."

More than a whiff of corruption, to be sure.

How will it all play itself out? Well, we know from today's news that the GOP is demanding that McGreevy resign immediately. Pronto.

Why? Well, for one, New Jersey is quite possibly in play. Believe it. New Jersey is angry, and has been for quite some time now, as emerging trend geeks like me have observed; that rising anger has not gone unobserved by Karl Rove and the GOP in DC for some time now. The GOP wants New Jersey, seethes over Forrester, and, on occasion, that lust has prematurely leaked out onto editorial pages, despite the fact of John Kerry's double digit poll lead there. New Jersey is the next Cal-ee-for-nee-ahh, I think; McGreevy also serves as Tristate area payback for Governor Rowland, just as Bill Clinton was payback for Richard Nixon.

And the Republicans may be right in this cause, or, at the very least, successful. Let us hope that the GOP will not appeal to our lower demons with crass bigotry on this issue, or even hint at it in attack ads, but, rather, follow a solid Republican strategy of blaming the "culture of corruption" that McGreevy embodies. That's a strategy that could hold and not debase politics with hate. And, if so, this could force McGreevy to leave office earlier than his intended post-November election date, especially if George Bush gets behind it -- and then, should the Republican win and they probably will -- he will have a new GOP Governor and momentum to win New Jersey in the Presidential election. And with it a second term as President.

One can only hope the GOP will not appeal to bigotry to achieve their aim.

Of course, all this would become moot if the Dems just drafted Bruce Springsteen for Governor.

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