Five months ago, with his back to the wall and facing calls from his own allies to resign, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a ready answer to the accusations of sexual misconduct that were engulfing him: Let’s wait for the investigation.
“I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion,” he pleaded. It almost sounded reasonable. It bought him precious time. So, New York Attorney General Letitia James promptly called Cuomo’s bluff by initiating the investigation he endorsed.
Yesterday, with the release of the report, Cuomo ran out of time to buy.
After an investigation that included interviews with 179 people and the reviewing of more than 74,000 documents, investigators concluded that Cuomo “engaged in conduct constituting sexual harassment under federal and New York State law.” The report found at least 11 credible accusations of sexual harassment against the governor.
The calls for him to step down are growing by the hour. Even President Joe Biden has called on him to resign.
But the governor is a scrappy survivor, and he’s refusing to go, calling the very report he endorsed “biased” and saying the “facts are much different from what has been portrayed.” Who can believe him now?
I wonder what his classy late father—former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo—would say to him if he were alive. Actually, I’m pretty sure he would tell him to salvage whatever dignity he has left and resign. He would have told him, in fact, to resign five months ago, when his reputation was already in tatters.
In any case, Cuomo is now modeling the very opposite of dignity. At a time when confidence in politicians is already near rock bottom, he’s sending a message that personal political survival comes before everything. Ironically, because he’s been digging in his heels for so long, his fall will be greater. His stubbornness has bought him zero goodwill.
Today, as he ponders his next move, his own words from last March have come back to haunt him: “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion.”
The people of your state have waited for the facts, Andrew. Now they’re waiting for you to go.
David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp, and “Jewish Journal.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.