Man the world is changing fast. We say that often because it’s true. It’s kaleidoscopic. Every morning you wake up in a brand new country. And it’s hard to keep track of the change because there are so few mile markers. But here’s one measure of the change: it was less than a year ago that millions of us gathered around the electronic hearths in anticipation to watch Andrew Cuomo receive a coveted Emmy Award. Remember that night?
Even by the standards of fraudulent Hollywood ceremonies, it was a very weird moment. As a rule, politicians don’t accept Emmy awards. That would require admitting they’re actors. But, Andrew Cuomo, postmodern as he is, had no problem with that, he’s been playing a character from The Godfather for decades. So he took it. Here are the highlight clips they played as he received his statuette:
ANDREW CUOMO: Flatten the curve. Flatten the curve. Flatten the curve. … We talk about social distancing … Slow the spread … NY has been getting the short end of the stick from this federal government from day one right across the board … Stop! Just for one moment – the partisanship.
“Flatten the curve. Flatten the curve. Flatten the curve.” It’s iconic. It’s like “go ahead and make my day” or “may the force be with you.” We’ll never forget it. It will live on forever in our common culture. You can see why Cuomo won best performance by a sitting governor. Such passion and intensity. The delivery seemed lifelike in its sincerity and force. Talk about method acting.
For a second, you could almost imagine Andrew Cuomo running a large American state, sitting in his office in the Capitol building, making complex policy decisions about whatever they make complex policy decisions about, barking urgent orders to aides like a governor. A remarkable performance. Looking back, that night at the Emmys last November was the apogee of Andrew Cuomo’s career. He could have lived on it for years, dining out, mining the memories of his heyday, playing progressively smaller venues, doing an annual fan show in San Diego.
But he chose not to. Andrew Cuomo is wiser than that. He remembers what happened to Marlon Brando when The Godfather series ended. The long decline. So today, Andrew Cuomo quit the business. He left at the top of his game. Here’s his announcement:
ANDREW CUOMO: Wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that state government should be doing. And I cannot be the cause of that. New York tough means New York loving. And I love New York and I love you and everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love. And I would never want to be unhelpful in any way. And I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing.
He’s so tough he’s running away. He’s so tough he’s quitting. We’ve heard that claim a lot recently. And you know, after that, it’s possible we’ve sold Andrew Cuomo short. We told you his Emmy was the high point of his career. In fact, that may have been the greatest performance of his life. I’m resigning, he said, not because I killed all those old people in nursing homes. Not because my closest adviser went to federal prison for corruption. Nothing to do with it. Not because I’ve got a super creepy personal life – and by the way, it’s entirely possible I’m a made member of the mafia.
No. Not at all. I’m resigning from my job because I love the state of New York. And ladies and gentlemen, that’s what loves does: It resigns.
Pretty remarkable. Could Al Pacino deliver those lines with a straight face? Not a chance. But instead of enjoying it, the media missed it. Naturally, they missed the art of it entirely. They bought the whole thing. They took it seriously. They thought it was real. Today, they’re telling you Andrew Cuomo’s resignation is a watershed moment, a win for the “Me Too” movement and a somber reminder of the systemic misogyny that surrounds us.
On CNN, they got completely carried away, as they often do. One particularly self-hating male anchor – is there any other kind over there? – was so awestruck by Andrew Cuomo’s speech that he immediately yielded the floor to his female colleagues. It would be wrong, he said, for a man to weigh in on news this grave. That’s how toxic Andrew Cuomo was. He’s a living embarrassment to men everywhere, even the newsreaders who periodically identify as men on CNN.
That’s what they’re telling you. Now far be it for us to defend Andrew Cuomo. He’s awful. We’ve said that for years, and we haven’t changed our view. But still, since this is playing out in public, it’s worth asking a couple of obvious questions before we move on to the next victim. For example, if Andrew Cuomo was harassing so many women, and doing it at the state Capitol, how come we just learned about this? Andrew Cuomo has been in office for almost 11 years. Lots of people say they knew he was a creep. So why didn’t they tell us before? They certainly didn’t. Instead, they told us he was godlike. Remember? In case you don’t, we do.
NICOLLE WALLACE: Gov. Cuomo out there day after day. Everything Trump isn’t: Honest, direct, brave.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Even lifelong Republicans tells me they look at Cuomo and say “God, there’s a leader.”
ALEX WITT: For those of you wondering why Andrew Cuomo has been garnering the nickname America’s Governor, I think you saw it right there. He is conveying incredible strength in the face of this pandemic.
JOY REID: Maybe Trump is just a little bit mad that Gov. Cuomo has become a kind of acting president.
CHRIS CUOMO TO ANDREW CUOMO: I hope you are able to appreciate what you did in your state and what it means for the rest of the country now, and what it will always mean to those who love and care about you the most.
Oh. So noted feminist icon Joe Scarborough liked the cut of Andrew Cuomo’s jib. And honestly, that should have been a tip right there. The race lady was a fan, too. In retrospect, these were pretty clear signs. We should have picked them up.
But here’s the obvious: America’s most prolific hair-sniffer was a massive fan of Andrew Cuomo’s. Of course, he was. These guys all know each other:
JOE BIDEN: Your governor in New York, on one hell of a job, he, I think he’s sort of the gold standard. … I mean, look at the way you have governors like Cuomo who are out there doing just keeping everybody informed all day. I think he’s doing an incredible job. … By the way, I think he’s doing a hell of a job. I think he has been the lead horse here. I’ve talked to him frequently. He’s a friend. I think he’s doing a great job. I really mean it.
He’s the gold standard. He’s doing a good job. He’s a friend. I really mean it. They all meant it, until December of 2020. That’s when a candidate for Manhattan Borough president, a woman called Lindsey Boylan, wrote a Twitter thread accusing Andrew Cuomo of “harassing” – sex harassing. The crime, according to Boylan, occurred more than two years earlier, in 2018. But we hadn’t heard about it.
First question: why did Lindsey Boylan wait two years to tell us what had happened? This guy’s the governor of one of the most important states in the country, so why didn’t she pipe up before, say before the Emmys? We can’t know the answer to that, but it is clear she picked a politically significant moment to share her allegations on Twitter. Lindsey Boylan went public almost immediately after the news media called the presidential race for Joe Biden.
Could it be the second the media made that call, Andrew Cuomo outlived his usefulness and it might be time to crush him, and move on to someone who’s easier to control. Now, if you think that’s a conspiracy theory, you don’t live in New York, where that kind of thinking is common. The state of New York has a long history of palace coups, and many of them originating in the Attorney General’s Office. In fact, Andrew Cuomo once did it. He was the attorney general of New York, remember that? He used his office to investigate his boss at the time, Eliot Spitzer – remember him, the guy who wore black socks – and then he became governor.
Oh. So this is the kind of thing that happens in New York. It’s not exactly a democracy, it’s more late-Ottoman, but it’s very common there. Could it be that’s what’s happening now?
The current attorney general of New York is a woman called Letitia James. James hasn’t hidden her own political ambitions, you no longer have to. Earlier this year, she said that “A.G.” – which you thought stands for “attorney general” – actually stands for “aspiring governor.” Which she is. Even before she was elected to her current office, which she has misused from day one, James vowed to start a political investigation into Donald Trump’s businesses in New York. Not because she had specific evidence they had broken the law. She didn’t. She didn’t even claim she did. She didn’t like him, and she has since followed through on that promise. Is that the kind of justice you want?
So, there are reasons to question Letitia James’ motives. To put it mildly. And those doubts become more pronounced if you become one of the three living Americans who has actually read the 165-page report that Letitia James just produced on Andrew Cuomo – the one that led to his resignation. The closer you read the report, the more you notice that large portions of it are absurd. They don’t make sense.
On page 148, for example, Letitia James accuses Cuomo of, “allowing senior staff members to sit on his lap at official functions.” Now that sounds creepy as hell, actually. And, Letitia James goes on to characterize this lap-sitting as evidence of a “hostile work environment.” But if you go back to page 122 of the same report, you’ll notice this line: “None of these senior staff reported feeling uncomfortable with this behavior.” Oh. So they liked sitting in Andrew Cuomo’s lap. Weird, but who are we to judge. Weirder things are happening right now.
So how is this harassment? How is it a violation of the law? She’s the attorney general. Her job is not to pass moral judgment on the occupants of high office in New York but to enforce the laws, passed by the legislature. That’s why she has the awesome power to do that, which she must not, under any circumstances, misuse, or else it’s a threat to all of us, even those of us who loathe Andrew Cuomo. But the report, and you should read it – it’s irrelevant now – is full of lines like that, full of the inconsistencies you’d expect if you were reading a political tract, rather than a legal document. But it doesn’t matter now. The report did its job. Now, the race for a new governor of New York is underway.
That didn’t take long. Candidates are lining up to unseat Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who’s set to take over when Andrew Cuomo is gone. Letitia James is first in line, but she’s not the only one in line.
Al Sharpton is in line and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. They’re both planning to run for governor we read. You see how this works? Andrew Cuomo was an awful governor. It pains us to raise any voice in his defense: He was a vicious partisan and a thug. But he wasn’t completely insane. He wasn’t totally untethered from reality. He acknowledged some limits to constitutional government. He wasn’t, say, Letitia James, or Al Sharpton, or even – we’re pausing to catch our breath here because it’s so horrifying – Bill de Blasio, the most reckless and incompetent human being ever to hold elected office, a man who single-handedly discredits the idea of self-government.
These people are worse than Andrew Cuomo. But because someone sat in Andrew Cuomo’s lap, they may soon run the state of New York.