You might be wondering what’s going on with Andrew Cuomo.
Of course you are. You have been in a deeply lackluster pandemic lockdown situation for over a year. And now here’s a drama involving politics, ethics, sex and remorse starring one of the country’s biggest political names. In which citizens are challenged to decide whether, for example, kissing a subordinate on the mouth after a private meeting could be considered a ‘usual way of greeting’.
Can I hear you say “No”?
Cuomo was the hero of an earlier stage of the pandemic – the truth telling star and defying Trump who won an Emmy for his daily coronavirus briefings. Remember when you purposely logged in to watch the Governor of New York show you a bunch of graphics? In retrospect, we’ll think of this as when people bought the Andrew Cuomo Celebrity Prayer Candle on Amazon.
But wow, how quickly things have changed. Turns out the stellar accomplishments Cuomo was pointing to each day were, uh, faked. Somewhat. The question was whether a nursing home patient hospitalized and who died of Covid-19 counts as a nursing home death. Obviously, if you are the patient’s family, it doesn’t matter much. But if you’re a governor and trying to demonstrate how much you oversee nursing homes, that’s a big deal.
Cuomo’s star power was subdued, for people who paid attention. But this new scandal piqued the interest of everyone. New York has a long history of this kind of political crisis. In 1881, the enemies of Senator Thomas Platt succeeded in taking over a hotel room next to the one where Platt was posted. They observed everything on the transom and dutifully reported all the details to an Albany newspaper.
Much, much later, Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned after voters learned he was an enthusiastic patron of prostitutes. (That was only 13 years ago, but damn it seems like an eternity. George W. Bush was in the White House; Indiana Jones was going back to the movies; and Republicans were about to pick a new superstar, Sarah Palin, as nominee for vice-president.)
Spitzer was replaced by Lieutenant Governor David Paterson. A day after he was sworn in, Paterson and his wife announced that they had both had extramarital affairs.
There were also a lot of terrible / embarrassing / creak-worthy stories on the lower rungs, many based on the theme that nothing that happens in Albany matters with us. (Lawmakers: How many times do we have to tell you not to watch porn with your interns?)
Part of the problem is that New York has had a pathetic record of placing women in high positions. We elected only seven positions statewide, none of them governors. Maybe it will help change this pattern. If so, the credit goes first to the women who stepped forward to tell their story, knowing that the governor was in control of the party they were trying to build a career in.
“At the end of the day, what will matter is – will they be punished for speaking out,” said Debbie Walsh of the Center for American Women and Politics. “All three had a lot to lose.”
Charlotte Bennett, a young former assistant, told The Times that when she was alone in an office with Cuomo, he started asking troubling questions about his personal life and said he was open to relationships with women in the twenteeth.
(People, do you think that was… bragging? I was sort of wondering if it wouldn’t be nice to hear a politician tell a suspicious young woman that he liked partners of all ages, until about 80 years old, let’s say.)
Either way, the pace continued. Lindsey Boylan, who is currently running for President of the Manhattan Borough, recently reported that once, as she left Cuomo’s office while she was his aide, “he walked past me. and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but kept walking.
Anna Ruch, who worked in Democratic politics, met the governor at a wedding, exchanged jokes and then felt his hand on her lower back. Ruch withdrew his hand. Cuomo was in a tight spot. How do you think he solved it?
A) Say, “Oh, sorry – I was looking for a cookie.”
B) Sighing and mumbling, “God, I have to stop doing this stuff.”
C) By placing her hands on her cheeks, calling her “aggressive” and asking her hard enough if he could give her a kiss.
Yes, I know you know it’s C. There’s a photo of the moment, and if Cuomo tries to run again, I guarantee voters will see the stunned look on Ruch’s face on the billboards. display of his opponents.
Cuomo held a press conference on Wednesday in which he only confessed to “making others feel feelings that I never wanted.” Doesn’t that sound like a bit too much of an innocent mistake? In a perfect world, he might have added, “You know, it’s a tough time right now, and part of that for me is realizing how I can really be a jerk around women.