As I write this, the governor of New York Andrew Cuomo is being besieged with requests to resign. First, he endured a scandal regarding his administration’s hiding of Covid-19 casualties in state run facilities and more recently a phalanx of women have accused him of several haughty to criminal levels of sexual harassment. Most people reading this column and familiar with the previous dunce who just left the White House may consider these stains to be the perfect training ground for a presidential run, but Cuomo is a Democrat, and it’s been a long time since Big Bill Clinton’s wild days of forgive-me fornication. The Me Too movement is now calling the shots in the Democratic Party, and what is considered “Locker Room Humor” or “Boys Being Boys” in Republican circles is anathema around these parts. Therefore, Cuomo’s reign is hanging by a thread.
The question posed to me for the past week has been Cuomo’s lack of seriousness with the idea of quitting. This does not surprise me. I expect him to dig in. This is in his nature, and it is not for us to argue it. It’s a Darwinian imperative for Cuomo.
Firstly, the man is a political animal, not merely a comedian trying his hand at governing, like former Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who went from yukking it up on Saturday Night Live to the big chamber in D.C., and after enduring an infinitesimal sexual harassment grievance compared to Cuomo’s, exited his post in shame. This kind of moral thinking is beyond Cuomo. His father was a legendary NY bestial marauder, and his offspring is just as hairy. He will not go quietly, if at all, in my humble estimation.
And this is not just cynicism on my part. As of late this week, the governor still enjoys a majority of support among New York voters and a much larger portion in the party. This is akin to Donald Trump’s stellar support among Republicans despite his bevy of irrational lunacy and criminal behavior, two impeachments and inciting an insurrection. Politics is not about morality or values, and it sure as hell isn’t about weird idyllic notions like America. It is about power: Getting power and hanging onto power. Cuomo already nailed the first one, twice. The second, always the trickier of the two, is now on the table. This is when true politicos go to the numbers. If the numbers hold (Trump and Clinton) you remain steady and hope things blow over, and if they don’t (Richard Nixon) you bail.
Speaking of “the blow over” the irony of the Me Too movement is that it may have rattled cages and given credence to those who wish to overcome social inequities and fear of reprisals to come forth and tell their stories, but in truly high-profile cases – outside of Hollywood, where it has wreaked havoc – it has gone belly up. Trump skated through more than a dozen of these things, including bragging about assaulting women, before he was elected, and a Supreme Court Judge was confirmed despite the horror of the accusations against him by a woman brave enough to come forward.
In this climate, where rhetoric and shocking headlines may have some pull, once the dead end and now merely a speed bump for politicians, why should Cuomo quit?
And lest we forget, and I shan’t because I watched it up close, my dear friend, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who was defeated by Cuomo in 2014, tried to alert voters of Albany’s corruption excused by the then incumbent. That summer, Cuomo summarily disbanded his own high-powered Moreland Commission to root out corruption in state politics once they began sniffing into his campaign finance issues. The whole thing stunk to high heaven. Cuomo was re-elected.
Again, in this climate, with the power and promise of two generations of Cuomo politicians, the absolutely joke of repercussions for previous political figures and sexual harassment, and the numbers in his favor, why would a craven lifer give up the most powerful governorship in the most powerful state in the union? The type of creature Cuomo is does not bend to the outcry of editorial pages or Twitter. Even his party bows to his resistance. He’s in charge. Giving that up is a tough gig. You had better have the votes to oust him. The party and/or the state government will likely have to step up and impeach Cuomo, and if the votes are there, he will go, if not, as with The Donald, then he will ride this out.
Here’s the deal; Cuomo’s career is toast, he knows it. He was the toast of America during the pandemic, despite complaints from inside his administration of grandstanding. Many in the party wanted him to run for president. Ahhh, but the same brutal acumen that makes him what kind of mutant he is, lets him know that it’s over now. He’s not a moron like Trump. He sees the writing on the wall. I see Cuomo more as a political shapeshifter like Clinton or a Kennedy, someone who gets that by quitting you just give into the enemy and mark your legacy for all times as a quitter. When we think of LBJ now, do we think of the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act or Viet Nam or the Kennedy Assassination? I argue we don’t. He’s the guy who quit rather than to defend his legacy at the ballot box. He’s a quitter. And that is worse in the political sphere that Cuomo runs in than pinching a woman’s ass.
If grabbing pussy gets you to the White House, then Cuomo is going to stay put.
The scum, as Hunter S. Thompson so eloquently put it once, also rises.