promoted by Rosi
Last night, I failed to stand up to a bully — namely Woodbridge mayor John McCormac. I allowed my desire to avoid making a scene to outweigh the need confront the plague of bullying that has increasingly infected our political discourse and members of our own Democratic Party.
A little background: Last night I was a member of Senator Joe Vitale’s team for his annual charity softball game to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Each year the Senator hosts this great event for a great cause and this year was no different. Ray Rossi and the 101.5 softball team were gracious enough to be our opponents and we put on a hitting clinic (winning 39-4 in 5 innings). The weather was great, as was the crowd, and over $6,500 was raised for Habitat.
The only thing that blemished a fantastic event was the public comments of Mayor John McCormac. Since the game was being played in Woodbridge, McCormac decided to make a campaign stop to address the crowd and press the flesh. One of the Senator’s staffers was handling PA duties, introducing each batter and any notable people in attendance. When McCormac showed up halfway through the game, the announcer slipped up and addressed him as “Mayor McGreevey.” The crowd chuckled (most probably would have been happy to see the fondly remembered former Mayor/Governor) and then McCormac took the mic.
He started out with a weak joke about getting the announcer fired from his full time job. Then the standard platitudes that had the crowd returning their attention to the game at hand. Then he wrapped it all up with the following line:
“Thank you. Good night. And I am a straight American.”
At that point, all you could hear was crickets. Everyone knew it was a jab at McGreevey’s now infamous resignation speech. It was the most inappropriate thing I have heard from an elected official in quite a while, and it came out of the mouth of a Democrat! Besides the latent homophobia running through those five words, it was said but five feet away from where Gov. McGreevey’s father and sister were sitting.
I was incensed. It took all my self control to not yell at him right there, in front of the crowd, using terms that would make Rahm Emmanuel blush. But I didn’t want to make a scene and further detract from the fun and positive tone of the event. So instead I decided to talk to him privately as he was working the crowd. The opportunity never arose, since when he saw that my family would start off the next row of spectators, he decided to high tail it out of there.
In retrospect, I wish I had called him out immediately, in the open (but with more measured language than my first impulse). Do I think McCormac is a homophobe? Probably not, but his “joke” was homophobic. However, John McCormac is a bully, and it is time that we as individuals and as a society say enough is enough and begin to actively combat bullying – both in the school yard and in politics. It’s behavior like McCormac’s that makes the “It Gets Better” videos necessary and gave rise to the Tea Party. The only way we’re going to be able to address the problem is by striking back in public so that the bullies know their behavior is not acceptable and the bullied know that they are not alone. I will no longer stand by, silently.
McCormac is up for reelection this year. He’s an embarrassment to my hometown and doesn’t deserve to win. His administration is all about power, cronyism and taking credit for the work of others. Unfortunately he will win, as the Republican Party in Woodbridge is such a joke that the only way for a Republican to win the town is for the party bosses (i.e. McCormac himself) to actively undermine the Democratic candidate (see Corzine, Jon, 2009). I hope that the local party does come to its senses sooner, rather than later, because Woodbridge deserves a mayor with some class that won’t continue to embarrass the town.