March 2, 2021 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Democrats are not going to stand with Cuomo the way the Republicans still stand with Trump

The GOP wants you to forget two words: Al Franken.

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With Joe Biden in the White House, the disloyal opposition is not unreasonably seeking ways to chip away at his legitimacy. One way is make-believing he didn’t win.1 Another is make-believing the moral foundation by which the Democrats held the former Republican president accountable suddenly doesn’t matter now that the president is a Democrat. This is the reason everyone’s talking about Andrew Cuomo.

As you know, he’s the Democratic governor of the state of New York. What you might not know is that a third woman has emerged to accuse him of sexual misconduct of some variety. (This time, he allegedly tried to kiss her without her consent.) Last year, the press corps cast Cuomo as Donald Trump’s antipode, a state leader stepping up to combat the covid pandemic when the president failed to do any such thing. It has since been revealed that the governor did a terrible job, specifically that his administration allowed an estimated 9,000 covid patients to enter nursing homes around the state.

The past week has seen silly attempts at moral equivalence between the political parties where there is none.

But it’s sex that gets attention. Throughout his one and only term, Trump was dogged by one allegation after another of sexual misconduct, even rape. He never paid a price, because the Republicans shielded him from responsibility. This almost certainly cost the former president electoral support in the all-important suburbs, where affluent and educated white women found a safer embrace among the Democrats. Now that the Democrats control Washington, the Republicans have incentive to portray Biden and the Democrats as the party of hypocrites who refuse to hold their own accountable.

This is why you have seen in the last week silly attempts at moral equivalence between the parties where there is none. Times columnist Ross Douthat, for reasons related, I can only suppose, to his draconian pessimism of human nature, portrayed Cuomo as a fading “anti-Trump idol,” as if his efforts were just another failed and disappointing attempt to redeem humanity’s sin. Opinion programs on Fox were busy comparing Democratic outrage over Trump’s alleged crimes to Democratic “silence” over Andrew Cuomo’s. Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox co-host who accused its former top executive of sexual misconduct, co-wrote an op-ed for USA Today: “When it comes to harassment, Democrats cannot talk the talk if they are not willing to walk the walk.”

Here’s the tip jar! Put something nice in it!

The “if” clause I put in italics seems to me quite telling. For one thing, it suggests a true objective, which is not getting the Democrats to honor their stated moral convictions with respect to gender. The real goal is probably just getting the Democrats to shut the hell up about the GOP’s indefensible behavior. For another, it swaps a hypothetical—something that does not yet exist—for something that does. The Democrats have walked the walk. They can talk the talk. Two words: Al Franken.

The former Democratic senator from Minnesota resigned in late 2017 amid the first wave of the #MeToo movement during which he was accused of sexual misconduct. (At first, it seemed like Franken had been targeted by right-wing saboteurs, but two years after quitting, nearly 10 women had come forward to accuse him of myriad crimes.) At the time, some said Franken should not resign unless Trump does. If the Democrats force him out, critics said, they’d be giving up without a fight. I thought that was wrong, politically and morally. I hope, in light of Andrew Cuomo’s scandal, we all see that.

Why was it wrong? First, because it made morality relative and conditional. It also made the Democrats indistinguishable from the Republicans. By purging Franken, the Democrats declared that morality isn’t transactional for them. Second, because transactional morality, if that had been the direction the Democrats had chosen, would have obscured a clear political opportunity. By sacrificing Franken, the Democrats gave the eventual nominee an advantage over to the pussy-grabbing GOP incumbent.

But the final reason transactional morality was wrong hasn’t come to light until now. The Republicans want everyone to think the Democrats will stand by Andrew Cuomo the way the Republicans stood by (and remain committed to standing by) Donald Trump. They want the public to see the Democrats as talking the talk, not walking the walk. But everything about this gambit requires everyone to forget about Al Franken. The Democrats have a record of holding their own to account, and they will again.

Cuomo might dig in. But that’s separate from what the rest of the party should do, which is call for his head. That’s what’s happening. After today’s Times report relaying allegations by a third accuser, US Rep. Kathleen Rice wrote on Twitter: “The time has come. The governor must resign.” Rice represents Long Island. She was one of the first to call for Franken’s resignation, days before Kirsten Gillibrand did. First slowly and now quickly, the dominoes are falling around Andrew Cuomo. The end is in sight. Will that prevent the Republicans from accusing the Democrats of hypocrisy? Come on.

John Stoehr

John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition open and available to all. Find him @johnastoehr.

20 Comments

  1. John Smart on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    100 percent DISAGREE. Firstly this Cuomo foaming feels like Roger Stone nonsense to me. THIS IS A HIT ON CUOMO.

    Secondly, even if true he should not resign (though he will, Democrats are THAT suicidal) As long as Gym Jordan and Brett Kavanaugh have jobs WE CANNOT GIVE IN TO THIS. Cuomo should apologize and move on.

    GOPs PAY THE PRICE OR NO ONE PAYS THE PRICE….and no, I do not care about the “morality” of any of this. I understand EXACTLY what I am saying. But war is war. and we are at war. The women can sue him later.

    We are about to have two Democratic governors from two major Democratic states forced out while FAR WORSE GOP GOVS STAY PUT. GOP governors who KILLED WITH NEGLIGENCE while Cuomo and Newsom are ripped to shreds. My God, Democrats are pathetic and it’s all virtual signaling bullshit.

    No No No No NO!!!

    • John Stoehr on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

      Lt. govs come from the same party.

      • John Smart on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

        not the same thing. This is pure self destruction. Cuomo was the ONE national voice of sanity last March. But we’re gonna crucify him because he said some stupid shit. This is why Dems lose so many winnable elections.

      • Jim Prevatt on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

        Not in NC

        • John Stoehr on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

          Yes! I was thinking of NY

    • Sean Tadsen on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

      “Our side shouldn’t be have to live up to its stated morals so long as the other side doesn’t” is not the brilliant argument you seem to think it is.

  2. jibal jibal on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    “(At first, it seemed like Franken had been targeted by right-wing saboteurs, but two years after quitting, nearly 10 women had come forward to accuse him of myriad crimes.)”

    Sigh. It’s as if Jane Mayer and John Mashey never laid out the facts about the accusations against Al Franken:

    https://twitter.com/JohnMashey/status/1003739017664315392

    • John Stoehr on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

      Mayer’s piece, if I remember, was long on regret on the part of Dems.

      • jibal jibal on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

        Then maybe you should reread it. And the Mashey thread.

        • jibal jibal on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

          Also, Terry Gross’s interview of Mayer: https://www.npr.org/2019/07/25/745232345/journalist-jane-mayer-on-the-many-mysteries-in-the-accusations-against-al-franke

          The whole thing was incredibly “transactional”– Gillibrand and Schumer made political moves, forcing Franken to resign without getting the investigation he asked for and deserved.

          • John Stoehr on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

            I really don’t understand the need to defend Franken. He was replaced by another Democrat. End of story.



          • jibal jibal on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

            Nice strawman … I have no need to defend Franken and that’s not what I’m doing. It’s about what the facts are. “End of story” is the line of anti-intellectuals and arrogant poseurs.



          • Jim Prevatt on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

            ??



          • jibal jibal on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

            What the hell does his Senate seat have to do with anything? Can’t you conceive of a notion of justice independent of politics? And within the context of politics, Roger Stone weaponized #metoo against Franken and the Democrats, who ate one of their best interrogators. This isn’t hard to understand by anyone willing to do so. You do some good political analysis, but you have some huge blind spots and a gigantic ego that doesn’t allow you to back down from anything. Speaking of which, saying “the left” might be right does not logically negate the possibility that you bashed the left–that’s absurd.

            I won’t respond to you again–it’s like smashing my head on a brick wall.



          • Jim Prevatt on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

            ?



  3. Jim Prevatt on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    Yep. I think it’s best when the Lieutenant Governor is in the same party as the Governor. NC has this wrong, in my view.

  4. abbyinsm on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    AMEN. I am uncomfortable with MSNBC and others welcoming Franken back into the fold until I see authentic remorse and reconciliation.

  5. Bennett on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    A few items–and I’m glad to see this exchange on the limits of eating one’s own. So I’ll make a few points.

    1) Al Franken should have at least received the benefit of some form of due process in response to the allegations. His defenestration was protective politics by the Democrats. It still may have been the right decision, but it should have undergone a fairer, more judicial process.
    2) By way of counterpoint, I was not in favor of the eating of our own that was consuming the Virginia state leadership in February 2019. As deplorable as the incidents were, specifically Northam’s and Herring’s childishly and boorishly racist blackface incidents as students (Fairfax’s sexual assault accusation was much more serious), I didn’t think the two rose to the level of resignation-worthy. (I similarly thought the same about lame calls for Biden to drop out in response to the “handsy” accusations thrown his way.)
    3) All of the above points to the fact that each incident deserves inspection on a case-by-case basis, with not so much benefit of the doubt as a full factual consideration before engaging in a chest-beating act of self- (or other-) immolation, with some account taken for the true scale of the offense.
    4) Andrew Cuomo’s situation is such a one. The sexual assault charges–as AOC put it–are indeed “disturbing.” But I’m sorry to say that these pale before the possibility that Cuomo’s willful disregard of public health warnings may have significantly raised New York’s death toll, and doctoring data to hide that fact is a cruel betrayal of the public trust (and a furtherance of public health endangerment). For those who are not aware how badly Cuomo fumbled what was already an open secret (as did De Blasio, who is in no position to name call), just read the New Yorker article on the disparate responses of New York and Washington states to the same public health information delivered at the same time to their respective leaders. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/05/04/seattles-leaders-let-scientists-take-the-lead-new-yorks-did-not. Read it and truly weep for those who died unnecessarily.
    5) Cuomo holds grudges, has enemies, and has behaved in ways that resemble Trump’s bullying manner. That no longer wears well. (T.J. Ducklo anyone?) Cuomo differs little from CT’s ex-governor Dannell Malloy, who despite the Democratic label and liberal tendencies, earned the distinction of being the least popular governor in the United States owing to his legendary capacity for holding grudges and making enemies, including in his own party. Cuomo is already despised by progressives for his long-time complicity with traitor Democrats in the NY legislature (that the justice Democrats would ultimately depose) and those once complicit Republicans are probably happy to see Cuomo burn. Of course, his popularity (or lack thereof) ought not bear on whether Cuomo should resign or not. That should be based on facts (to be gathered by an independently appointed commission courtesy of Letitia James). But make no mistake, Cuomo looks little different from the bullying Amy Klobuchar for whom the knives came out when she thought she could run for president without her horribleness as an employer emerging–talk about, quite literally, emotional and physical abuse of staff. (One wonders if she should resign for such disgusting behavior. How bad was her behavior? This bad: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/03/telling-reactions-tales-amy-klobuchars-rage/584104/.) Cuomo doesn’t have much in the way of “character references” to ameliorate the cries for his resignation from fellow Democrats or Republicans.

  6. Bennett on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    Commenting on an old post here, but it is now worth the commenting. There is now more heat on Cuomo to resign. Again, his sexual boorishness (I don’t see John Weaver-like predation here…yet) is the leading cause although his hiding data about COVID deaths chills me far more.

    But more to the point, my earlier assertion that the removal of Franken without a proper due process has born fruit. How do I know? Read it, and weep at Gillibrand’s sudden coyness about calling out her own governor on this very issue: https://apnews.com/article/kirsten-gillibrand-andrew-cuomo-al-franken-resignation-a3735f0f78ed6a8949b34cbc82239023. Gillibrand’s right to serve as a spokesperson on women’s claims of harassment will likely sustain serious damage. This is a real shame in light of great work she had/has been doing on sexual assault in the military, work that absolutely cannot stop.

  7. Random on July 30, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    .
    One way is make-believing he didn’t win.

    or

    One way is making believe he didn’t win.

    Hmmm . . .
    .

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