Andrew Cuomo’s downfall, which at press time might greatest be described as both ongoing or imminent, has been each gradual and swift, directly predictable and surprising. During his a long time in politics, and three phrases as governor, he has banked sufficient sick will, amongst enemies and erstwhile allies, to sink a political profession a dozen occasions over, and but he has additionally appeared (or been mentioned) to have a mastery of the mechanics of energy and a knack for self-advancement and self-preservation. The expertise which have helped him rise and thrive are the ones which have made him extensively feared and despised. The vices occlude the virtues.
Detractors might discover it bittersweet that Cuomo’s comeuppance outcomes from private sins as an alternative of political ones—reminiscent of his poor stewardship of mass transit or COVID’s tear by way of nursing properties. But the report launched final week by Letitia James, New York State’s legal professional common, which paperwork Cuomo’s misdeeds as a serial harasser and undesirable toucher, describes a person who has misplaced his compass, if he had one. Here is a governor with out a governor. The poisonous environment he fostered in the government chamber (and in the governor’s mansion) expresses, as soon as once more, that the private is, inevitably, political. His remedy of his accusers mirrors his dealings along with his colleagues in state authorities, and along with his constituents. Charm, bully, gaslight, lie. The abusive office just isn’t conducive to good work; the work has suffered.
Still, the creep in the A.G.’s report—and in the information experiences this previous winter, the place the allegations first aired—was unrecognizable even to some outdated fingers. Whether it’s because they’d turned a blind eye or as a result of Cuomo picked his moments, it’s arduous to know. The impression is of a man searching for an opportunity to cop a really feel or make a subordinate really feel sick relaxed, and whether or not it’s about the intercourse or the energy could also be beside the level.
The allegations return a number of years, however in the report, as the pandemic shrinks Cuomo’s circle and limits his contact with the outdoors world, he comes off as a mix of Howard Stern (“The things I would do to you,” Cuomo tells Executive Assistant No. 1, one of his “mingle mamas”), Colonel Kurtz (to date upriver, more and more remoted, and surrounded by toadies and severed heads), and Macaulay Culkin in “Home Alone” (ice-cream sundaes for dinner, empty rooms, peril for many who dare enter).
Cuomo has insisted that the ladies have misunderstood his phrases, actions, and intentions. “It would be a pure act of insanity for the Governor—who is 63 years old and lives his life under a microscope—to grab an employee’s breast in the middle of the workday at his Mansion Office,” his lawyer wrote, in a rebuttal. Well, sure. A protection, of a form. A greater one, maybe, than the launch of dozens of photographs of different public figures hugging residents in vastly totally different contexts, or than the declare that the handsiness was simply an Italian factor.
And sixty-three: the assertion of seniority, as if it has exculpatory powers. Advancing age, on its personal, has by no means proved to be a lot of an obstacle to oily or self-destructive habits, particularly when you combine in the prednisone of energy. The portrait of an workplace the place these behaviors have been indulged, and the place methods emerged to rationalize them or cowl them up, brings to thoughts the coddling of a spoiled and harmful little one. In reality, it sounds lots like the Trump White House.
Emboldened by his surge in recognition throughout the early months of the pandemic, and perhaps even by all the discuss of his Cuomosexiness; newly single; marooned upstate with a small cadre of yes-people and “mean girls,” as he referred to them: the Governor seemingly, like his former boss Bill Clinton, acquired frisky. He apparently advised one of his accusers, a younger girl in his make use of, that he was lonely and sleep-deprived and that what he actually needed to do was get drunk and take a lady on his bike into the mountains. Here was a person enjoying the single-father-of-daughters position to the hilt on TV, throughout his briefings—with the discuss of the spaghetti sauce and the Boyfriend—whereas subjecting younger feminine staffers in his dwelling workplace to creepy discuss, or worse.
It could also be that there weren’t sufficient adults round. There has been, particularly in Cuomo’s third time period, a shift in the tenor of his administration. He got here into the governor’s mansion, in 2011, with a coterie of trusted advisers—heavies, wizened execs, attorneys. Most of them are gone now. His father, the former three-term governor Mario Cuomo, died on the inauguration day of the son’s second time period. In 2018, Joe Percoco, one of the father’s right-hand males who later grew to become one of the son’s, was sentenced to 6 years in jail for bribery and fraud. More lately, Cuomo has needed to rely on what you would possibly name a much less worldly inside circle, adept at Albany however maybe not a lot at the bigger themes. Some techniques—the alleged coverup of nursing-home fatalities, the choice to leak confidential private details about the ex-staffer Lindsey Boylan, who had accused the Governor of sexual harassment, so as to discredit her—recommend not solely iffy ethics however an absence of good authorized recommendation or political horse sense. Everyone appears to assume he’s toast and that, in the face of probably impeachment, he has no selection left however to resign. Hard to image. There’s all the time that bike. ♦