Why the Left Hates Cuomo
Conservatives are happily gloating over the fact that Andrew Cuomo is at, or rapidly approaching, his nadir.
Unfortunately, they cannot take credit for the three-term governor's rapid fall from grace. Though New York once had a competitive Republican Party, the state in recent years has been dominated by the Left. Democrats presently control the state legislature by veto-proof margins in both houses, and no Republican has won statewide office since George Pataki won his final term as governor in 2002.
It is not the rump faction of the Republican Party from mostly red Upstate that has kneecapped Cuomo -- as much as they would have liked to. Rather, it is Cuomo's über-leftist fellow Democrats from the New York City area. On Sunday, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called for Cuomo's resignation (less than a month before the April 1 deadline for the all-important state budget) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie questioned Cuomo's ability to lead. State Attorney General Letitia James is investigating Cuomo's COVID-19 edict quarantining elderly patients in nursing homes, where fatalities spiked. Last week, her investigation prompted the Democrat-controlled legislature to repeal dictatorial powers they had granted to the governor in 2020 as the virus began to spread.
Like Caesar in the Roman Senate, Cuomo is cornered by his erstwhile allies, daggers drawn. But why aren't his fellow Democrats circling the wagons in his defense, as they did for Bill Clinton in 1996? It's not as if Cuomo is being accused of having a young intern fellate him in his office. To the contrary, he's being accused of far, far less. Cuomo's latest accuser alleged that he gave her a hug -- twenty years ago!
In contrast to his predecessors, the accusations against Cuomo are so flimsy, they almost -- but not quite! -- make you feel bad for the guy. David Patterson had an affair with a state employee while a married state senator. Eliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace after being caught paying $5000 a night for young prostitutes; a few years later the New York Post revealed that he had a fetish for crawling around barking like a dog while a prostitute led him with a collar and a leash. Nelson Rockefeller died of a heart attack in 1979 while doing a bit of horizontal exertion with a "secretary" almost fifty years younger than he.
The accusations against Cuomo amount to little more that the fact that he creeped out a few women by trying to be friendly with them. Yet Cuomo deserves every bit of the grief he is getting, simply because he is -- and always has been -- a creep. Michael Shnayerson’s The Contender: Andrew Cuomo portrays Cuomo as a "lonely obsessive" -- ruthless, vindictive, obnoxious, and arrogant, for whom politics was everything. Here's the "money quote" from a POLITICO book review:
"Personal grievances spill over into political relationships, and minor slights from ages past are cause for permanent alienation from Cuomo and his inner circle, a style that has left the governor alone and lonely.
Cuomo’s top aides 'f--k their friends and help their enemies and vice versa, based on fear' said one anonymous lawmaker:
'Talk to lobbyists, legislators -- they’ll almost unanimously say the guy is a real prick, and he will do whatever he can to punish you, only you won’t know it because he won’t do it to your face,' another anonymous lawmaker said.'"
The Left has had to tolerate him all these years because he gave them much of what they wanted. But Cuomo only did so in order to make himself the top dog. Cuomo's modus operandi from Day One has been to arrogantly dismiss Republicans, conservatives, and Upstaters and to pander to city-based constituencies -- gays, blacks, feminists -- on his left by stealing planks from their agenda and making them his own.
Cuomo presented himself as a white knight by appointing an anti-corruption Moreland Commission in 2013 -- and then summarily dismissed it when they got a bit too close for comfort. In his 2014 re-election bid, Cuomo was challenged by law professor Zephyr Rain Teachout, who made cleaning up corruption (she literally wrote a book about it) and banning fracking her top priorities. Cuomo appointed a politically stacked commission to "study" a fracking ban before the election to take the issue away from her, and then conveniently "accepted their recommendation" to ban it after having been safely re-elected. By 2016, Joseph Percoco, Cuomo's top personal lieutenant, was indicted along with a Buffalo-area contractor and two other Cuomo allies for bribes and bid-rigging on state economic development projects. All but Cuomo were later sent to prison.
Cuomo had opposed legalization of marijuana until he was challenged in 2018 by Cynthia Nixon, the Manhattan actress who made legalization the cornerstone of her campaign. Cuomo then had a Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment in which he realized that he was, in fact, for marijuana legalization after all. So concerned was Cuomo about Nixon's challenge from the left that he spent two-thirds of his $30 million campaign money to win the primary election, and only $10 million against his Republican opponent Marc Molinaro -- whom he trounced easily -- in the statewide general election.
Also in 2018 Cuomo issued an executive order allowing felons on parole to vote. Since state law forbid it, the executive order amounted to a partial pardon of tens of thousands of criminals. The order was issued just in time for the election, but Cuomo presented it as an issue of racial justice -- mandated by the Fifteenth Amendment -- for the large numbers of blacks on parole.
Cuomo also pushed through "Women's Equality" legislation allowing late-term abortions, and, in a delicious bit of irony, included enhanced anti-sexual harassment training in state agencies along with an Orwellian "Enough is Enough" sexual consent policy on SUNY campuses.
Cuomo's pandering has always been coarse, heavy-handed, and insincere. Though he is hardly a closet conservative, and probably genuinely supports these policies, it has always been obvious that Cuomo manipulated leftist identity groups so that they would have no alternative but to vote for him and make him governor-for-life. (Indeed, until only a few weeks ago, Cuomo seemed to be a shoo-in for a fourth term). Eventually, though, it became clear that the leftist identity-politics groups were getting tired of getting the pimp hand from Cuomo. Blacks, gays and feminists -- whose political consciousness had been raised by Cuomo's pandering -- discovered that they would rather have the real McCoy in office instead of a white, heterosexual male who claims he is for blacks, gays, and women. Unsurprisingly, Teachout is a left-wing female; Nixon is a lesbian; and his current antagonists -- Stewart-Cousins, Heastie and James -- are black.
Cuomo played ringmaster at the diversity circus, and now his own lions are trying to eat him.
As of this writing, Cuomo insists that he will not resign. It will be interesting to see if his own party will impeach him. If not, Cuomo remains crippled politically. Whatever happens, he deserves not one bit of pity.
Conservatives may feel a bit of schadenfreude at seeing Cuomo in dire straits. But they should be sobered by the fact that if Cuomo is finally brought down for good, it will not be by a conservative resurgence in New York, but by committed leftists, equally if not further to the left than he is.
Image: Zack Seward