Andrew Cuomo announced at a press conference today in Albany that he will resign as New York’s governor, effective in 14 days. Good riddance.
Cuomo’s overdue departure, after months of defiance, is a salutary act of political hygiene. He was three years into his third term as governor, following four years as the state’s attorney general, and had been gearing up to seek a fourth term. His father served three terms as governor, and was defeated when he sought a fourth. The only justification Cuomo fils could offer for extending the family’s political dynasty into a seventh term was to point sane New Yorkers to the state’s nutty progressive wing, and point Democrats to New York Republicans, and declare: Après moi, le deluge. But just as Republicans did to Eric Greitens in Missouri and Robert Bentley in Alabama, and as Democrats did to John Kitzhaber in Oregon, the New York Democrats finally decided that their hold on state government would be safer without Cuomo than with him.
For much of 2020, Cuomo was celebrated with preposterous sycophancy from the national media, not all of whom could claim the excuse of Chris Cuomo of CNN that they were simply putting their family above their journalistic integrity. This continued for many months after it was apparent that Cuomo’s nursing-home mismanagement during the COVID pandemic cost thousands of lives, and that Cuomo was actively covering up his own misdeeds. For many of his admirers, Cuomo’s downfall over the sexual-harassment scandal is a convenient excuse to avoid addressing the malfeasance and corruption that offered equally good reasons to impeach and remove him from office.
People who claimed the gag-inducing and now-ironic “Cuomosexual” label and held up Cuomo as a model of leadership deserving of an Emmy, a multimillion-dollar book deal, and possibly a place on a national ticket should always have known better. Cuomo had his occasional uses as governor, mainly in feuding with New York City’s dreadful mayor Bill de Blasio and in holding back the worst excesses of the state’s progressives. But this was always the same man who scolded pro-lifers to leave his state and had to be restrained by the Supreme Court from restricting New Yorkers’ right to worship. The side of Cuomo on display at the end – the sleazy authoritarianism, the rank dishonesty and self-aggrandizement, the contempt for everyone’s interests but his own – was always obvious to even casual observers. Jake Tapper memorably described Cuomo’s personality in 2002: “the regrettable fact for Cuomo was that to a sizable number of voters he seemed like an a**hole.” The voters were right the first time.
Cuomo left as he governed. There was denial: “I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.” There was deflection, such as his complaints that female managers are held to a “double standard.” There was whining about “a superheated, if not toxic political environment.” There was chutzpah: “for those who are using this moment to score political points or seek publicity or personal gain, I say they actually discredit the legitimate sexual-harassment victims that the law was designed to protect.” And, of course, there was dishonesty to the very end celebrating the “progress” of his administration against the COVID pandemic.
New York Democrats have proven ruthless in recent years in replacing their miscreants. We recall the scandal-tarred downfalls of Cuomo, Eliot Spitzer, Eric Schneiderman, Sheldon Silver, Anthony Weiner, David Paterson, Charles Rangel, John Sampson, Scott Stringer, Malcolm Smith, Clarence Norman, William Boyland, Brian McLaughlin, Carl Kruger, Gloria Davis, Ryan Karben, Sam Hoyt, Diane Gordon, Efrain Gonzalez, Anthony Seminerio, Hiram Monserrate, Pedro Espada, William Scarborough, Shirley Huntley, Nelson Castro, Micah Kellner, Gabriela Rosa, Angela Wozniak, Pamela Harris, and Marc Panepinto. And those are just the ones who got caught. Maybe they should take a closer look at why they have so many opportunities to replace miscreants in their ranks.