Another opportunity wasted

A non-insane party might make hay out of Andrew Cuomo

I never trusted Andrew Cuomo for the same reason I never trusted Eliot Spitzer or Rudolph Giuliani: I don’t trust prosecutors who want to be in charge. (As I said in 2006, “Anyone as proud of his prosecutorial career as Eliot Spitzer should be be moved further from, not closer to, government power.”)

I think time and experience support my prejudice. New York’s governance is, alas, no longer any of my business, but as I have regarded it from afar over the years Cuomo’s performance as governor has been the expected hammy weight-throwing political bullshit, especially as regards his treatment of Mayor Bill De Blasio, the crab Cuomo always endeavors to crawl over — and who has been paying Cuomo back handsomely since the governor got charged with being creepy with young ladies.

I won't even bother with the question of whether Cuomo should resign. I think all politicians I don’t like should resign, and for the same reason: because I don’t like them. And that’s pretty much it. Morals doesn’t come into it. If we were even-handedly enforcing morals clauses on politicians, brother, our politics would look very, very different from what it looks like now.

I mean, Al Franken resigned and Donald Trump didn’t. There is absolutely no moral explanation for this that makes any sense. You may think Democrats forcing the creeps in their own ranks out of office is a moral decision, but I think it’s at least as much a political one: Democrats reject creeps because their voter base (women and actually moral men) disapprove of that sort of thing.

I don’t fault Democrats for this; in fact I admire it. If you can do well by doing good, so much the better. It’s like why Democrats nominate an increasing number of female and minority candidates, rather than just nominating more female- and minority-friendly white guys. It’s good faith for the growing majority of the party, and it also decreases the likelihood of more Andrew Cuomos. Win-win!

That’s why you see a surprising number of Democrats bum-rushing Cuomo even at this early stage in the debacle. Spectrum News:

Two more Democrats [State Sen. James Skoufis and Assemblyman Tom Abinanti] on Wednesday morning became the latest state lawmakers to call for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment...

Multiple Democrats in the legislature, as well as members of the New York City Council, Rep. Kathleen Rice, and progressive organizations like the Working Families Party, have called for the governor's resignation...

And more rolling in all the time: the Cayuga County Democrats, the state College Democrats, the DSA... and Democrats in the state lege are also trying to yank Cuomo’s emergency COVID-19 powers and making it clear it’s because of the scandal.

I don’t think even Franken got this many knives in his back this quick. Shows what a popular guy Cuomo is!

Republicans, as we know, are different. You may be tempted to say they’re the opposite of Democrats, in that they positively love sexual harassment as part of their funsy macho ass-grabber view of life and their voter proposition that powerful men ought to be able to do absolutely whatever they want or America is finished; that would explain their endorsement of the serial sexual predator Donald Trump.

But that doesn’t quite get at it. Republicans don’t really have a moral position on this, or even a political one, because they don’t have any morals or politics at all. What they have is more like Lionel Trilling’s “bundle of irritable mental gestures,” but without the mediating agencies of morality or politics.

Republicans don’t have any strong feelings about sexual harassment beyond what they expressed during the Duke Lacrosse rape case and the Kavanaugh hearings — that women lie and men are victims. So when anything like the Cuomo thing happens, the one thing you will not hear them say is that sexual harassment is bad and that the victims deserve sympathy — at least in anything but the most transparently insincere way. (I still remember Lucianne Goldberg, Jonah’s odious mother, back in 1998 saying on TV how sorry she was for that “poor little girl” Monica Lewinsky. Back in that simpler time maybe a couple of people believed her.)

But Republicans can’t defend Cuomo’s alleged behavior as they did Kavanaugh’s and the Duke Lacrosse guys’, either — I mean, the guy’s a Democrat! So their shtick is to claim Cuomo proves liberals are all hypocrites, as we can see from their headlines: “Mainstream media blasted for ‘blatant hypocrisy’ after ignoring sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo” (Fox News), “How Democrats killed #MeToo” (Ryan Cooper), “Democrats’ #MeToo hypocrisy and other commentary” (New York Post), “Democrats’ hypocrisy moment” (Jim fucking VandeHei and Mike fucking Allen, Axios) etc.

It’s not only a dumb lie, it’s a useless one; no one is going to believe the defenestrators of Franken are unwilling to walk the walk. It’s dumber than when some of them tried to pin Harvey Weinstein on the Dems to beat back their challenge of... Donald Trump.

But that’s what happens when a party has all the trappings of a political movement — including message discipline and a complaisant, cooperative press — but no moral or political foundations. It’s weird; they have the infrastructure to get their story straight in a matter of hours, but their stories are absolute shit. Look how quickly they pulled that Dr. Seuss thing together, and how little sense it makes to anyone of normal intelligence.

We tend to think of Trump’s effect on the Republican Party as something that’s bad for democracy and the future of our country, which it definitely is. But we don’t think enough about the upside: how bad it is for the Republicans themselves. They’re all so worried about looking like less of a berserker than Trump that they can’t think straight. If they could, they might try to look like they care about female employees and the pigmen who creep on them and maybe even propose some related legislation. They might actually peel some votes off that way.

But instead they scream hypocrisy — the last word in the world they have a right to use — and then get their heads back on a swivel, waiting for the next Mr. Potato Head. It’s not a good sign for a party that lost to Sleepy Joe Biden by eight million votes. Well, there’s always voter disenfranchisement.