The Status Cuomo

 Saying “Sorry if someone was offended” is not an apology.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, might have been shrugged off. I’d assumed any mention of “strip poker” was in jest. Does anybody really play strip poker? But I’m less sure after Charlotte Bennett’s story. Clearly Cuomo was hitting on her for sex. And now there’s the cringe-inducing photo of him with hands on Anna Ruch’s startled face. So a pattern emerges.

His calling it all just playful banter, and saying he’s sorry if it was taken the wrong way, was not going down well. Especially on the heels of his trying to manipulate the situation by having it “investigated” by someone not exactly disinterested. (Now Attorney General James will do it; she’d recently produced a damning report about Cuomo’s nursing home debacle.)

Cuomo, 63, is divorced; he split with his girlfriend in September 2019.

I originally drafted this piece a few days ago, writing that Cuomo should have said this: “What I did was wrong and out of line. I’m sorry for my actions. This is not an excuse, but it happened because I’ve been alone for a while and craved female companionship. While the way I sought it might have seemed normal in previous decades when my social acculturation occurred, I get it that times and mores have changed, and I must change with them. I have learned from this episode and will endeavor to be better in the future. On that basis, I humbly beseech forgiveness.”

Then Cuomo’s own words, at his Wednesday press conference, actually came pretty close. Yet he still ended with, “And if they were offended by it, then I apologize.”

Boylan and Bennett were employed under Cuomo’s authority; seeking sex from them was not merely a matter of it being unwelcome, it was an abuse of power. For too long men with an exaggerated sense of privilege have gotten away with egregious behavior toward women. On the other hand, “#metoo” and “cancel culture” too often fail to fit the punishment with the crime. It’s public death for all, whether Harvey Weinstein or Garrison Keillor or Al Franken. That’s just wrong.

If his moves on these women were Cuomo’s sole transgressions, that should not, in my judicious opinion, necessarily incur the ultimate political penalty. I would say let the voters decide, in the context of his overall record.

One might mention, in this regard, “Grab them by the pussy,” lying about payoffs to women to silence them about adulterous sex, etc. Making Cuomo’s behavior almost look innocent in comparison. But I’d prefer to consider the Trump case a grotesque aberration, rather than setting the standard for judging such things. Indeed, that would eviscerate standards altogether.

And what of Cuomo’s overall record? Previously I’d given him good marks on covid. Here too, in comparison to Trump, he looked heroic. But then there was the nursing home mess. The original decision to require nursing homes to take infected patients from hospitals can be argued β€” where else could they go, with hospitals overwhelmed? But here again, the problem was a refusal to take responsibility. To obfuscate matters, the ensuing deaths being classified as hospital deaths rather than nursing home deaths, Cuomo long doggedly stonewalling and dodging responsibility.

Then there was the Moreland Act Commission, empaneled to investigate government corruption. When it got too close to his own operations, Cuomo simply disbanded it. The state also has a “Joint Commission on Public Ethics” β€” hahahaha. A joke of a Cuomo poodle. When his top henchman, Joe Percoco. was convicted of mis-using his office and bribery, JCOPE refused to take up the matter. Indeed, refused even to hold a vote on taking it up. Meantime, Cuomo’s been up to his eyeballs in smelly “pay to play” games, raking in huge campaign donations from businesses getting state contracts. 

And he’s not a nice person. A nasty bully. Even as the nursing home controversy continued aboil, and the Boylan allegations were swirling, Cuomo in a previous press conference saw fit to launch a bizarre personal attack on an obscure state assemblyman, Ron Kim, who had somehow crossed him. And, said Kim, in a hectoring phone call Cuomo had threatened to “destroy” him.

So, taking into due account the entire record, my final verdict: hang the bastard.

Many say he’s now indeed done for. Ron Kim was part of a pattern too. Cuomo bullying victims are legion in state politics. He seemed to follow Macchiavelli’s dictum that it’s better to be feared than loved. So there’s nobody who loves him, leaping to his defense, except of course for his entourage of toadies. And now, seemingly on the ropes, he’s no longer much feared either. The ubiquitous metaphor is sharks smelling blood in the water.

But how, exactly, will they bring him down? He can’t be forced to resign (like Eliot Spitzer did, in a 2008 sex scandal). Impeachment? An unwanted kiss on Boylan might actually have been a criminal offense. But I can’t see a Democratic governor being impeached, by a Democrat-controlled legislature, for that.

Conventional wisdom says that in any case, a fourth gubernatorial term is always tough in New York politics. It eluded his father Mario. How can Andrew even dare run again, with all this ugly baggage? But there’s no obvious candidate to beat him in the primary. Especially given his pay-to-play campaign slush fund, flush with tens of millions. And New York’s Republican party is a pathetic basket case of Trump cultists in a Trump-loathing state.

If you play strip poker with this guy, watch out for marked cards.

6 Responses to “The Status Cuomo”

  1. didiusjulianus Says:

    “Previously I’d given him good marks on covid.” Why?

    The situations in the nursing home were known very early in that fiasco last year. Even including some whistle blowing nurses making videos to get the word out. People who are actively paying attention to all of the C V situation were calling it out then but were labeled no nothings or even conspiracy theorists.

  2. didiusjulianus Says:

    Nursing homes, not home. πŸ™‚

  3. Don Bronkema Says:

    Well said, amigo…bum hasta go!

  4. Brendan Birth Says:

    I actually think Cuomo is beatable in a primary. A political novice who didn’t run a great campaign (Cynthia Nixon) got 34% of the vote against Cuomo in 2018, and that was before all of the baggage of recent times. If a strong candidate primaries him, he might actually lose.

    Republicans are going to hope that this is a repeat of 1994, when some obscure Rockland County legislator upset a Cuomo in a Republican landslide year. But like you, I’m thinking the Republicans in NY are too inept at the moment. Never say never though I guess.

  5. Brendan Birth Says:

    For the record, the governor’s race was not a landslide, but results nationwide were a landside for Republicans that year.

  6. Lee Says:

    If we are to forgive him for being behind the times, that might apply to “Sorry if someone was offended” as well. It used to mean “If I find that I have inadvertently offended someone then I am genuinely sorry; causing offense is below what I aspire to.” Someone needs to tell the governor that it now means “You fools who are too easily offended don’t really deserve an apology, but I am better than you and will give you an apology anyway.”

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