The Cuomo Meltdown

Another example of the Avenatti Syndrome

Remember the super-sexy legal lion? The folk hero, who would bring down a president?  A hero of the #Resistance? Possible presidential candidate? The Left’s own Trump?

Remember the fever dream in which a sleazy huckster became the hottest “get” on cable television? 

Michael Avenatti should have been a cautionary tale.

The lawyer to porn stars was charismatic, media savvy, and most important of all, promised to be the magic bullet that brought Trump down.

He was also a fraud, a liar, and a crook. But we needed him, and he was on our side, right?

There was a heady time when if you were Not Trump, you not only benefited from the soft bigotry of low expectations — you got what amounted to a lifetime pass from accountability of any sort.

Maybe we should call it the Avenatti Syndrome.

We saw the phenomena of bogus celebrity play out again and again — Omarosa, Michael Wolff, Michael Cohen, the Mooch… and Andrew Cuomo, the lionized, celebrated, gushed-over New York governor who now finds himself in the meltdown stage of multiple scandals.

We should have seen it coming, but we were too busy looking the other way, because Cuomo was the nation’s bright shining hope. And he was Not Trump.

As Alex Shephard wrote earlier this month, “The media needed a Covid hero, and Cuomo fit the bill.”

In contrast to Trump, his news conferences were clear, personal, and respectful of scientific opinion. He acknowledged the severity of the situation. He did not tell people to drink bleach. He was, most importantly, something Andrew Cuomo has almost never been throughout his political career: relatable. 

In effect, Cuomo’s blunders and deception sheltered under the umbrella of Trump’s incompetence and malignancy.


How cringeworthy was the Cuomo-mania?

While New York continued to rack up a horrific death count, media coverage quickly went far north of merely gushing. “How Coronavirus Made Andrew Cuomo America’s Governor,” US News proclaimed. “Andrew Cuomo, social media superstar,” declared Politico. There was presidential buzz as #PresidentCuomo trended.

The New York Post ran a story about Cuomo’s . . . sexiness. Andrew Cuomo’s nipples take our minds off coronavirus.”

“Help,” wrote a contributor to the feminist website Jezebel, “I Think I'm In Love With Andrew Cuomo???”

The New York Daily News reported:Heartbroken ‘Cuomosexuals’ lament loss of daily coronavirus briefings.”

Cuomo himself wrote a book lauding his leadership skills. Entertainment Weekly swooned: “The hero that America never realized it needed until he was on our television screens every night . . . has taken his talents to the page.”

He was awarded an International Emmy for his 'Masterful' COVID-19 Briefings. “People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and New York tough became a symbol of the determination to fight back."

People Magazine focused on the delightful bickering between the governor and his TV anchor brother, telling readers: “Amid the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, there has been one bright spot: every now and then, news anchor Chris Cuomo and his brother, Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, get on national television and bicker.”

And so on…

As early as March, 2020, there were warning flags. The Columbia Journalism Review noted, “Glowing coverage of Cuomo also raises difficult questions”.

Why, in January, didn’t New York plan for these closures, informing parents that schools might close and businesses couldn’t operate normally? Why was the severity of covid-19 denied, with Cuomo succumbing to public pressure to enact tough measures when it was effectively too late? Why is a governor being praised for his leadership skills when a shelter-in-place order came twenty-two days after the first coronavirus case? Why is New York City the next Northern Italy?


Now it is all unraveling.

A former aide is now accusing Cuomo of sexual harassment. This comes on top of reports of his bullying, blustering modus operandi, and the admission that his administration covered up the number of deaths in the state’s nursing homes.

As the huzzahs fade, we also begin to see other aspects of Cuomo’s failure. Despite portraying himself as a champion of science, Cuomo’s disdain for actual scientists forced an exodus of experts. Via the NYT: “9 Top N.Y. Health Officials Have Quit as Cuomo Scorns Expertise”

“When I say ‘experts’ in air quotes, it sounds like I’m saying I don’t really trust the experts,” Cuomo said of pandemic policies. “Because I don’t.”

We also are getting a clearer picture of Cuomo’s political thug culture in which he “berated aides and elected officials, brought people to tears, and threatened to fire them or end their careers.”

But it is the nursing home cover-up that exposed the fetid underbelly of Cuomoism.

More than 15,000 people have died from the coronavirus in New York’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities. But as recently as late January, the state was reporting only about 8,500 fatalities, excluding virus-related deaths that occurred physically outside of those facilities, such as in hospitals.

In a conference call with fellow Democrats, one of Cuomo’s top aides explained the rationale for hiding the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.

“We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, and what we start saying, was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” [Melissa] DeRosa said.

They were covering their asses by hiding the story in the midst of the pandemic.

It was a staggering admission because it added a layer of malice to the incompetence, especially for a governor who had postured as a model of radical transparency and straight talk.

But Cuomo’s aides knew that revealing that there had been more deaths would blow a massive hole in Cuomo’s carefully crafted new image.

So he withheld crucial data that might have helped save lives because he was afraid he might take a political hit. This is not a blunder. It is a crime.

Pointing this out now is not whataboutism. It’s a recognition that there are different kinds of awfulness. Most important, it is a reminder that it is always dangerous to put too much faith in any prince, even if he is the Anti-Trump.

Liz Cheney is not going wobbly.

ICYMI: Cheney is not mincing any words here.

"It's very important for us to ignore the temptation to look away," Cheney said. "And it's very important, especially for us as Republicans, to make clear that we aren't the party of white supremacy. 

"You certainly saw anti-Semitism. You saw the symbols of Holocaust denial... you saw a Confederate flag being carried through the rotunda," she said, referencing the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. "We, as Republicans in particular, have a duty and an obligation to stand against that, to stand against insurrection."

"The president and many around him pushed this idea that the election had been stolen. And that is a dangerous claim. It wasn't true," she said. "There were over 60 court cases where judges, including judges appointed by President Trump and other Republican presidents, looked at the evidence in many cases and said there is not widespread fraud."

This is what happens when you don’t have a rational transition.

Some personal news: Introducing new granddaughter, Emilia Kay Sykes.

8 lbs 14.5 oz, 20 inches!

Everyone doing great...

Quick Hits

1. It’s Time to Plant a New Flag

Woke Joe Walsh makes the case for a new party. Just don’t call it “center-right.”

It’s time to plant our flag, take ownership of where many American voters are, and begin down the difficult road of building a new political party. A “radically centrist, common sense, let’s get shit done party.” A party that is populist in tone and centrist in policy outcomes. A party that’s socially tolerant and fiscally responsible. Yes, a party that embraces democracy, decency, the rule of law, and telling the truth. Those should all be self-evident. But also a party that recognizes the key issues of our day –trade, climate, immigration, health care, the economy, et. al.– and advances responsible public/private reforms and solutions. You know, like, climate change is real, it’s a huge problem, we need to act now, but no, we don’t need a Green New Deal and total government overhaul of our economy. We need government leadership and private sector investment and innovation to tackle the problem of climate change.

2. QAnon and the Satanic Panics of Yesteryear

In today’s Bulwark, Daniel Gullotta writes:

QAnon is on the political fringes but its beliefs about mysterious Satan worshipers fall into a well-established pattern of Christian theology concerning conspiracies dating back to the medieval church and the witch hunts of the early modern era. The fear that children are being morally corrupted, sexually abused, and physically harmed is one of the most recognizable Satanic conspiracy tropes. In the witch trials of early modern Europe, accusations of killing infants and harming young children were common. For centuries, Jews throughout the Holy Roman Empire and Reformation Europe were accused of ritually murdering Christian children for magical purposes and cannibalism. Under stress and torture, both men and women—but mostly women—confessed to such Satanic crimes as using babies’ blood for spells, murdering children at witches’ sabbaths, and having sex with the devil.

Cheap Shots

Cancel culture.

Fred Upton isn’t going wobbly, either.