A self-absorbed con artist who married for political gain and would be running for president had a gay sex scandal not fouled his career.
That's the picture Dina Matos McGreevey painted of Jim McGreevey, her estranged husband and former New Jersey governor, on the day her memoir, "Silent Partner: A Memoir of My Marriage" hits bookstores. It comes eight months after her husband published his own version of the spectacle that unfolded in front of the nation, and as their divorce proceedings come to a head.
Through their very public displays, both the former governor and his wife seem intent on telling the public their version of the relationship, no matter how personal or disconnected each account may be from the other.
"I think it was all a charade for him," Matos McGreevey told Oprah Winfrey during a taping of today's show.
- Dina Matos McGreevey said Tuesday that she never knew her estranged husband and former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey was gay during their marriage.
- Diane Sawyer will interview Matos McGreevey Wednesday on "Good Morning America."
Matos McGreevey said she still doesn't believe McGreevey is homosexual, despite the sex scandal involving a male aide that forced his from office in 2004.
"I don't think he's just gay, I think he's bisexual," she said, describing their sex life together as satisfying throughout their marriage. "I never saw him checking out men, but I certainly saw him checking out women."
When she did learn of the affair four years after their 2000 marriage, she said she didn't leave him immediately to protect their daughter, Jacqueline, who was 2 at the time.
"No one ever said to me, 'He's gay,'" Matos McGreevey said. "It's a cliche, but the wife's always the last to know, and it's true."
Winfrey pressed the former New Jersey first lady about the press conference when McGreevey announced his homosexuality and resignation, asking why Matos McGreevey held a smile despite the bitter personal reality the announcement had for her.
She smiled, she said, because her calculating husband instructed her to.
"As his world was falling apart, he was still choreographing the entire day," Matos McGreevey said, quoting her husband as telling her to keep a strong face and play the role of "Jackie Kennedy."
She described secretive behavior that, in retrospect, should have made her question what she called a "fairy tale" marriage that began in 2000.
Not once did she go to McGreevey's parents' house, she said, even though it was just five miles away from their own. She said McGreevey kept finances secret, maintained a relationship that may have been inappropriate with his ex-wife, and kept his daughter from the previous marriage from ever meeting her.
"Silent Partners" is released eight months after McGreevey offered his own story in the book "The Confession" — in which the former governor wrote that his wife may have known he was gay.
While she flatly denies knowing about his gay affair, it was in preparing to chronicle his story, Matos McGreevey said, that she discovered notes that he acknowledged he had married her simply as a political prop.
When the book was published in September 2006, a contrite McGreevey sat on Winfrey's couch, telling her, "When you're in the closet, part of the hell of being in the closet is you're denying your own existence."
The sex he had with Matos McGreevey was "special" and "real for that moment," Mcgreevey told Winfrey in a clip the talk host aired as part of her Matos McGreevey interview.
"He was a great actor," she responded. "He kept these two worlds separate and was a master at it."
The couple, in court last Friday for their first public appearance together since McGreevey's bombshell resignation, have traded poor parenting accusations in divorce filings. One demand she has made is that McGreevey strip a 50-inch-by-60-inch photograph of a nude male from his wall.
For now, Jacqueline, now 5, lives with Matos McGreevey and visits her father, who lives with a male partner, every other weekend and on alternate Wednesdays.
Matos McGreevey told Winfrey that her estranged husband is not a remorseful man — and that, counter to his allegations that she is in denial, it's McGreevey who can't distinguish between what's real and what's not.
She said she is now single and distrustful of men because of her estranged husband. After McGreevey came out, she sought advice from Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., a woman familiar with being dragged into a sex scandal involving a high-profile politician.
Matos McGreevey said that Clinton is now in a political position herself that McGreevey would very much like to be in — if it weren't for his sullied reputation.
"I have no doubt he would be running for president right now," Matos McGreevey said.