President Harry Truman famously said that “if you want a friend in politics, get a dog.” We learned the inverse of that on Monday, from a man on his way out of office: If you’re a dog in politics, beware of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo’s final day as governor began with a story in the Albany Times-Union about how he was trying get someone, anyone, at the governor’s mansion he’s moving out of to take Captain now that he won’t have a staff to take care of the dog he’d adopted in 2018, just before he publicly parted ways with long-term girlfriend Sandra Lee. The Times-Union reported that Cuomo used to laugh as the “high-strung mix of shepherd, Siberian and malamute” nipped State Police officers and executive mansion staffers, so maybe it’s no surprise there were no takers; one “mansion staffer recently took the dog home for a few days but decided he was too much.”
Cuomo’s office ripped the paper’s “ill-informed source” and suggested that the about-to-be-ex-governor, who will reportedly be crashing with his sister, was looking for a sitter not a taker. But in any case it certainly wouldn’t be the first time this governor has overstepped proper boundaries with his staff.
Setting aside the How I Beat the Virus book he got paid an eye-popping $5 million to write in the middle of a year when New York had the nation’s highest death count from it and had New York State employees (his office says they “volunteered” on their on time) type up and print for him, he’s leaving on Tuesday because he got caught pestering half of the women on his staff for sex while deputizing the other half into a powerful “mean girls” cabal (his nickname for them) to keep the junior ones in line and quiet.
You’d never know that from the centerpiece of Cuomo’s dog of a last day— a pre-taped farewell address that was a chance to go gracefully that of course he refused to take. He didn’t apologize to any of the 11 women who say he mistreated them, but instead declared “the truth will come out in time.”
More than anything, the address was Cuomo’s chance to remind us of that brief shining moment in March 2020 when we thought he might rescue us from Trump’s horrendous pandemic mismanagement. But March 2020 feels like a century ago with what we know about how Cuomo treated the women around him and how he hid nursing home numbers that helped expose his own lethal mismanagement of the COVID crisis.
The moment has long passed when millions watched YouTube star Randy Rainbow’s song praising the star governor and Lingua Franca sold $380 cashmere Cuomosexual sweaters that they now now restitch for free to say “believe survivors.”
For me, I’m still apologizing for my March 2020 hot take that has aged like blue cheese left in the sun. I did write about how my Cuomo crush turned out to be Stockholm syndrome and how I think he needs to resign, but being so wrong about something so stupid has for sure worn on my already dicey self-esteem.
On Monday, Cuomo had a last chance to be the good, decent Democratic pol he’s long sold himself as. But instead, he obfuscated, and suggested the worst about the women who accused him and about the woman, Attorney General Letitia James, who investigated and confirmed their claims in a 168-page report based on the testimony of 179 witnesses.
“I understand that there are moments of intense political pressure and media frenzy that cause a rush to judgment. But that is not right. It’s not fair or sustainable. Facts still matter,” he said, without, you know, providing any such facts. He continued: “A firecracker can start a stampede but at one point everyone looks around and says: Why are we running? The truth is ultimately always revealed.”
Print that up and put it in a fortune cookie!
Perhaps feminist Moira Donegan put it best, summing up Cuomo’s tactic for dealing with the numerous allegations: “Cuomo’s strategy from the start has been to lean into the popular but sexist understanding of sexual harassment as salacious and ultimately trivial—rather than as a real violation and a meaningful indictment of his fitness for power.”
Cuomo now says he’s taking Captain with him when he goes and Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa (who told the A.G. that she hated the Mean Girls nickname Cuomo gave her, even as the report details who she led the pushback against the women who say her boss mistreated them), says he’ll be spending his time fishing and catching up with his family.
For as long as he’s out of the only game he’s known, he’ll presumably be spending more time with his grown daughters, though he’ll no longer have the power to transfer a boyfriend who’s also a state trooper 200 miles away. It may be too late for Cuomo to find a friend in politics, but here’s hoping, for Captain’s sake, that the dog and his person find a way to take care of each other now.