“I truly believe it is politically motivated,” claimed Andrew Cuomo in his August 10 resignation speech, going on to describe a New York state investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him as “false” and “biased.”
Cuomo, who will leave office on August 24, is a bad man, but that doesn’t make him wrong in his rebuttal to critics.
As his administration unraveled amid state and federal investigations into mass nursing home deaths and inquiries into possible abuses of state resources in producing his self-congratulatory book about his pandemic “leadership,” it turned out to be his hugs and kisses – rather than thousands of needless deaths among the helpless elderly and alleged abuses in producing a book for which he received a supersized $5.1 million advance – that did him in.
True believers in the #MeToo movement – now reduced mainly to unappealing media and academic women with few other means of drawing attention to themselves – are crowing.
“The system worked,” concluded a satisfied Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post on the first morning-after she has probably had in a very long time.
But did it really?
The first harassment allegations against Cuomo emerged as long ago as December 2020.
He denied them, and the adulatory media and his hypocritical political party contentedly ignored them – the same people who, ironically along with Cuomo himself, advocated that all women are to be believed, that accusations of harassment are tantamount to proven guilt, and that corrective action should be swift and severe.
If the system had worked, Cuomo would have been out then and there.
Instead he remained in office, a liberal icon with soaring approval ratings, gushing media attention, and predictions of a lofty political future, a man far too valuable to be sacrificed on the altar of gender politics, which all but the most idealistic now plainly see as a tool to keep our administrative-managerial caste afraid and in line.
The same thing happened again in February, when the Love Gov’s first accuser wrote a Medium piece about his antics, only this time Cuomo’s defenders went the extra mile to produce testimony from alleged witnesses debunking some of her claims.
It was only in March, as more and more women came forward, that some progressive New York Democrats called on Handy Andy to resign from office.
He indignantly refused, not unreasonably claiming that the people of his state had elected him to serve and that he was answerable to them and not to the opinions of other politicians.
What had changed?
Was #MeToo finally rising after a long rest to crush a perpetrator who had refused to do the right thing and commit political suicide?
No, it was not the vengeance of “social justice,” but rather age-old power politics that had reared its ugly head.
By March, Andrew, the Gruff Saint of Queens, had become the Grandma Slayer of Albany.
Beginning in January, New York attorney general Laetitia James, a progressive opponent of Cuomo who has her own eye on the governor’s mansion, opened an investigation into the nursing home scandal, which, unlike the harassment allegations, has reams of evidence that has also attracted federal investigators.
Then came allegations about the book.
People wanted to know exactly who researched and wrote it, and why its author deserved as much money as a presidential memoirist.
For New York progressives like James, the moment had come.
Already at odds with Cuomo over taxes, police reform, pandemic executive powers, business development, and other duller subjects, jumping on the #MeToo bandwagon offered his progressive haters at least what they view as a morally sacrosanct way to finish him off while sparing the Democrats national humiliation of exposure for failing massively on Covid just as their next most powerful governor – California’s Gavin Newsom – seemed certain to fall in a recall vote that will probably replace him at the helm of America’s bluest state with a black Trump Republican.
The matter sat for a while as James commissioned an independent investigation by two law firms, one of whose lawyers may have had his own conflict of interest due to a past dispute with Cuomo.
Cuomo seems to have thought of using the lengthy investigation to ride out the crisis, or at least bide time, but its 165-page report was damning.
Like most sexual harassment investigations, however, it proved nothing, reached no finding of fact, and has no force of law.
Cuomo and his attorneys immediately attacked it as “biased and unfair,” claiming, as many who contest such allegations often successfully do, that it credited false information, omitted exculpatory evidence, and crammed hearsay and circumstantial evidence to fit the same predetermined conclusion New York progressives had already reached in March.
Cuomo still resisted, reportedly trying to secure a backroom deal to let him finish his term in exchange for a promise not to run for reelection while engaging more legal firepower to defend himself in impeachment proceedings.
The progressives lunged for his jugular, quickly prompting President Biden to state that he should resign, demonstrating that Cuomo did not have the numbers in Albany to survive impeachment no matter what he did, and registering a criminal charge (albeit a misdemeanor) against him, with the prospect of additional charges on the horizon.
Coming nine months after the original accusation – and with two separate and much worse scandals, a state-wide progressive-vs.-moderate showdown, and all manner of personal vanities teeming in between – it is beyond time to wonder whether #MeToo still has any compelling moral force or whether it is just a new arrow in the weathered old quiver of power politics.
Paul du Quenoy is President of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in History from Georgetown University. Read more — Here.
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