Is there a lesson in the downfall of New York’s governor? Most certainly, but in the current climate, few will notice.
Down goes Cuomo.
That’s how the late sportscaster Howard Cosell would have put it, and all his usual rhetorical excess would have been fully justified.
The rise and rapid fall of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been fascinating to watch.
One month, he was a hero, considered almost a mythic god by self-described “Cuomosexuals” whose passions were driven by thrilling coronavirus-related news conferences that featured the governor’s strong personality and unlimited self-confidence.
The next month, however, was altogether different — at least 11 women neither embracing the new popular label nor acceding to what they described as his romantic or otherwise improper conduct.
Suddenly, the self-described champion of women’s rights was on the defensive, labeled a sexual harasser and bully who created a toxic environment for all his employees, not just the women.
This kind of crash and burn has become common in politics and popular culture. Just ask former U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. Accusation has become tantamount to guilt.
It is as unfortunate as it is inevitable that public officials hit with these kind of charges almost always fold, forced by circumstances to leave office under a cloud without having the opportunity to defend themselves.
Cuomo announced his resignation as governor, effective in two weeks, not because he acknowledged the truth of the allegations against him or is even particularly sorry about what he did. He left because those he had hoped might listen to his side of the story abandoned him.
What happened to Cuomo is further proof of what former President Harry Truman advised — if you’re in politics and you want a friend, get a dog.
But in disclosing that he’ll leave office, Cuomo challenged both the accuracy of the sexual-harassment report prepared under the auspices of New York Attorney General Letitia James and the motives behind it.
That sounds like sour grapes, and it might be. But no one heard his side of the story.
And consider this: James wants his job. She jokes that the initials of her office stand for “aspiring governor.” A lot of other New York politicians have similar ambitions.
Did that play role in any of this? No one will ever know, because Cuomo, for understandable reasons, decided not to endure the impeachment trial that he feared would become an exercise in tarring and feathering.
Cuomo — warts and all — was elected governor New York three times. He was interested in a fourth term and surely would have won it had not these events intervened.
Now the state is to be governed by an unelected official — the current lieutenant governor — who is largely unknown to the public. In a democracy where the governed elect those who govern, that’s not a good thing.
Weep no tears for Cuomo. He was, in one way or another, the author of his own demise, perhaps as big a creep as his harshest critics suggest. But he was brought down by what amounted to a grand-jury indictment, not a trial where both sides are heard.
Those who believe in the precepts of fundamental fairness cannot find that comforting, no matter what their political opinion of this longtime Democratic officeholder.