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Jim McGreevey's Second Act

There are some questions identity politics can't answer.

12:00 AM, Sep 29, 2006 • By LOUIS WITTIG
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Identity politics takes people and lumps them--and all their varied actions, feelings, and motivations--into a big group, which it labels "gay" or "minority" or "underprivileged," and it tells a uniform story of grievance about them all. For rhetorical and political purposes the individual disappears. But not literally. When people are examined individually there are a lot of questions that the group identity doesn't answer. "I am a homosexual," is not a satisfying response to "Did you deceive your wife?" It is possible to gloss over these questions in a speech or a memoir. You cannot avoid answering to Oprah.

McGreevey had a choice: admit his relationship with his wife was just a physical lie and he the liar. Or say it was real, in which case he might not be as gay as he seems, and his identity-politics mea culpa might be a sham.

By talk show standards it was an eternity. McGreevey looked down at his lap, then up at the ceiling.

"It was," he sputtered, "special."

Louis Wittig is a media writer in New York.