Talking Points

Andrew Cuomo's rapid fall from grace

Imagine a parallel universe in which President Andrew Cuomo was facing multiple credible sexual harassment allegations. Commander-in-chief Cuomo was a vision dancing in many pundits' heads for years.

The thinking was that the tough-talking New York governor could beat Donald Trump, especially amid Democratic fears that Joe Biden wouldn't get the job done. When Cuomo said he wouldn't run, it was judged a mistake. Commentators boasted of being "Andrew Cuomo Democrats." If Cuomo wasn't going to be president, surely he should at least be in the running for vice president.

Cuomo wasn't just another Michael Avenatti from the hot take reject pile. He was the governor of one of the largest states, son of a fellow-three term governor and liberal icon, a former Cabinet official. He was (undeservedly) hailed for his coronavirus leadership to the degree he was seen as the most glaring contrast to then-President Trump. Biden hailed him as the "gold standard" and he won an Emmy for his televised COVID-19 briefings.

At a minimum, Cuomo seemed poised to one-up his father by becoming a four-term governor. Now his career has fallen apart, disavowed by his own party and having resigned in disgrace despite months of posturing and defiance.

To some degree, Cuomo's reputation was a triumph of style over substance. His reassuring presence at briefings took precedence not only over what he actually did to address the pandemic but also New York's objectively bad outcomes on caseloads and deaths. His abrupt resignation is a reminder that reality cannot be ignored forever. How you govern — and how you treat people — matters.

Will this give anyone pause the next time the commentariat rushes to praise some honey-tongued politician who is verbose during a crisis? Probably not. But Cuomo's rapid fall from grace is a morality tale for our times.