Ever since New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo bathed in praise for his daily briefings during the COVID-19 crisis, the right has tried to cut him down to size. That was understandable. But in the context of New York’s Democratic-dominated politics, the right hardly matters.
It’s the left that sees opportunity in flogging the moderate Cuomo over recent sexual harassment charges. Helping its cause, national media have gone to town over such “outrages” as kissing someone on the cheek at a wedding party. But the public isn’t quite going there, if their reader comments are any indication of popular sentiment. Example from The New York Times: “’Can I kiss you’ at a WEDDING is ‘sexual harassment’?”
And last week, just as The Washington Post published a piece titled “Andrew Cuomo is plummeting, and there’s no one left to catch him,” a Morning Consult poll found that 75 percent of New York Democrats approve of Cuomo, as did 53 percent of New York voters in general.
One might agree that if the allegations are true, some of Cuomo’s behavior has been inappropriate, bordering on creepy, but that’s all. Like the wedding party smooch, many of the raps — that he cupped a woman’s face with his hands or called a woman beautiful in Italian — border on ludicrous. The most potentially concerning claim, that he groped a woman, was made by an unidentified accuser.
It’s hard not to see the left’s motives as mixed with a desire to get rid of a prominent Democrat who often rejects woke orthodoxy. For example, although Cuomo denounced the alleged murder of George Floyd, he opposed calls from the left to “defund the police” and expressed shock at the disrespect shown to law enforcement. “The police are doing an impossible job,” he said.
Cuomo’s efforts to remove the cap on deductions for state and local taxes (known as “SALT”) have drawn the ire of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others on the left. They argue that since over half the SALT deduction benefits go to households with income in the top 1 percent, the cap is a handy way to tax the rich.
There may be a case for raising taxes on upper-income Americans, but this one was aimed only at rich residents of high-tax states and cities, which tend to be liberal. It is, in effect, a blue-state tax intended to pay for part of the Republicans’ 2017 tax cuts. And these local governments need these taxpayers. The highest-earning 1 percent of New York residents accounted for almost 43 percent of the total income tax collected by the city.
When voters have had a say, the far left has failed to get rid of Cuomo. The Working Families Party chose actress Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”) to oppose Cuomo in the 2018 Democratic governor’s primary. Cuomo beat her by 30 percentage points, and these were Democrats voting. Now the WFP wants Cuomo to resign over the sexual harassment allegations.
Interestingly, this detonation of woke passions over seemingly minor infractions has put the more serious charges — that Cuomo hid the number of COVID-19 deaths and, early on, sent some COVID patients to nursing homes, where they infected others — toward the bottom of complaints receiving media attention.
Cuomo says he has every intention of running for a fourth term in 2022. And if the continuing onslaught against him includes such petty objections as his obtaining a coronavirus test when testing was harder to come by — and, horrors, apparently getting his mother and brother tested, too — there could well be a backlash against the pileup.
Who could catch Cuomo from falling? The voters could, and the left would just have to watch.
Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist. Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @FromaHarrop.