06 October 2006

Having Everything Your Way

It's big business, and, sadly, a growth industry:

For Jim McGreevey, the truth was always whatever he could get away with. That is, until he appointed a former lover to a high level position who later tried to blackmail him. To preempt that circus--and some say other swirling scandals in his administration--McGreevey held a press conference declaring both his homosexuality and his resignation.

For McGreevey, it was integral that he get his truthiness--a term reintroduced into popular usage by Stephen Colbert--out as soon as possible. Mr. Colbert announced last year on The Colbert Report that "we are divided between those who think with their head, and those who know with their hearts." And McGreevey is clearly on the side of truthiness. He says in his memoir that many of his early memories are "spotty," as are myriad political decisions that might have been related to corruption scandals during his tenure. "In place of hard facts are sharply detailed feelings," he writes, "moments of elation and pride; large doses of hope; ultimately discouragement, pain, and a soulracking fear."

The idea of authenticity and truth are a large component of McGreevey's memoirs, prompting Oprah to declare: "I really do think what former governor McGreevey has done in being so open about his sexual activities is going to be a watershed moment. It is going to be as important to the culture as Demi Moore going on the cover of Vanity Fair with her pregnant belly."

For a man who spent his entire life positioning himself for a life in the public eye, McGreevey's grievous miscalculation in hiring his foreign lover to a homeland security position seems an uncharacteristic misstep, but depending on how the public decides to interpret "his truth," it may yet be the best thing he ever did for his image.

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