How art the mighty fallen.
I encourage you, if you did not see it, to watch Andrew Cuomo’s statement in response to the release of a report by New York State’s attorney general, Letitia James. She looked into allegations of Cuomo’s workplace misconduct and found he was likely guilty of several crimes. I suggest you watch it because it’s a rare opportunity to see a real-life version of Humphrey Bogart’s Captain Queeg in action, condemning himself even as he defends himself heatedly against the charges against him—in large measure due to the unmistakable madness in his eyes.
Cuomo’s argument on his own behalf does not only contradict the report’s findings that he repeatedly said things to junior female staffers that would get any supervisor disciplined or fired in a private corporation—and put his hands on women in a way that might get someone charged. It’s that everything he did he did out of pain, or love, or support, or kindness. Everything. His chief named accuser, Charlotte Bennett. According to Cuomo, her story about her own experience with sexual assault triggered his own pain over an (unnamed) family member who went through a similar assault. Bennett’s account reminded him of how helpless that made him feel, and that made him want to help her. And in that process, he behaved in ways she misunderstood. Obviously, kindness and a desire to help caused him to demand Bennett drop to the floor and do 20 pushups in front of him, as the report details, through a contemporaneous text that day to her parents.
There’s much, much more in the report, including allegations of physical contact, including groping. In response to that, Cuomo basically said he had learned from his mother that a nice thing to do is to put your hands on someone’s face to express love. The video then cut to multiple photos of him doing just that over the years to many people—as though that is exculpatory when it comes to, say, brushing your hands against a woman’s chest.
This video was not really made in response to the report but was likely taped long before it, as it does not respond to any specific charge made this morning during James’s press conference. And what you see in it is a man in the grips of a narcissism so all-encompassing that it helped him to believe the words he was speaking—even though he surely knew every single thing he was describing had to do with the power-dominance fetish that explains every political relationship he has ever had.
I have no idea what happens now. The only thing to say is that the only players here are Democrats. Cuomo is a Democrat. Tish James is a Democrat. The state’s two legislative chambers are in the hands of the Democrats. Most of the state’s Washington representatives are Democrats—its two senators and 19 of its 27 House members, all of whom have now called for Cuomo’s resignation. I expect President Biden may also find himself on the hot seat, having said Cuomo should resign if the charges against him are proven (though that gives him wiggle room, obviously, since they are not yet proven).
It’s unlikely Cuomo will do so. He is the Mad King of New York, and he will stay on his throne until he is dragged from it. The question is whether he will seem so deflated by this report that the Democrats in Albany cease fearing him—as they have, without letup, for the past 11 years of his governorship—and determine that his defenestration will, at last, relieve them of his presence.