The Andrew Cuomo groping scandal has finally claimed some scalps. Just not, at the time of writing, Andrew Cuomo’s. Instead, it is #MeToo’s enforcers who are being struck down.
On Monday, Roberta Kaplan, chairwoman of Time’s Up and founder of the group’s legal defense fund, submitted her resignation. Kaplan had worked closely with Cuomo’s staff during the investigation, and reviewed a draft op-ed that was intended to disparage the character of Cuomo’s first accuser Lindsey Boylan. On Monday, she was denounced in an online open letter (as people are these days), and her painful public penance came mere hours later. Kaplan’s client, senior Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, resigned as well.
But while his associates fall around him, Cuomo himself remains unbowed, determined to stand like the Rock of Gibraltar against all efforts to dislodge him. Cuomo’s staff say it’s over. His family say he is finished. President Biden has told him to be gone. But the Apulian Ass-Grabber is defiant.
Should Cuomo be pushed out of office? Heavens, yes! Andrew Cuomo’s decade-long stint as the pinecone-hand potentate of the Empire State is one of the more damning indictments of American representative democracy. Even if he had the chastity of Galahad, his political thuggery alone would make him one of the most abominable creatures of American public life.
But will Cuomo resign from office? Heavens, no! Why should he? What would that possibly gain him? Cuomo may be morally revolting, but he did not become chief executive of New York without some low cunning. And the governor seems to be the latest person to realize this new iron law of 21st-century American politics: never resign.
The only argument for Cuomo to resign is for the greater good of his state and the New York Democratic party, but if Cuomo cared about that he’d never have run for governor in the first place. No, Cuomo is clearly only in this for himself, and like any narcissist, he can see the stakes clearly. To voluntarily step away is to lose all, be humiliated, and shunted aside to live out a shameful retirement and then die an ignominious death. But so long as Cuomo clings to power, there is hope. Heck, Cuomo is leading the Democratic primary field right now! Only one-third of Democrats say they categorically are unable to support him. Why not run again? Who knows, he might win! And it’s not like he’s getting any less popular. What are New Yorkers going to do if he takes the primary, vote for a Republican? Come on.
Why should any politician resign over anything for that matter? If the last four years have proven anything, it’s that true scandal is a dead art form in American political life. Trump University and pussy tapes didn’t stop Donald Trump from becoming president, and the only politicians permanently hurt by the January 6 riot were the Republicans who so foolishly turned on him.
And how about Virginia governor Ralph Northam? By the standards of his own party, the revelation that he wore a Klan hood or blackface (he’s really not sure! Cockburn hears it’s the shoe polish though…) ought to be a political death sentence. The state Democratic party, both Virginia senators, Hillary Clinton, AOC, and just about every Democratic presidential candidate all demanded that Northam quit.
Northam’s reply? ‘Go ahead, make my day.’ Eighteen months later, his approval rating hit 56 percent.
Compare Northam’s sad fate with Missouri governor Eric Greitens. Amid a 2018 sex scandal, Greitens was hit with multiple felony charges. But finally, after a long investigation, he was cleared of all criminal wrongdoing and it turns out the real crimes, if any, were committed by Democratic investigators. Just one problem: Greitens had already resigned. Foolish. Greitens got suckered, and is now stuck trying to overcome immense Republican opposition to get a Senate seat. Imagine if he’d simply admitted nothing and yielded nothing. This race would be a coronation instead of a knife fight.
So Cockburn says let’s drop the pretense that there are decent principles in politics. Cuomo knows exactly what he’s doing.