TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE — A talk show producer was calling him sexy; his instructive, caring, humorous press conferences on COVID-19 had won him an Emmy; a publisher was paying him $5 million for a book he wrote about his leadership excellence; and many had him pegged as a future president.
Those were the days for Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who no doubt enhanced his extraordinary public standing through infantile arguing with then-President Donald Trump.
The familial bias of his brother, Chris, a commentator for super-progressive CNN, surely helped, too, as he occasionally mentioned the presidential possibility.
Not a few figured that was Cuomo’s certain goal because he so adamantly denied it — and now he has resigned.
He’ll soon no longer be governor, much less a presidential possibility, and his story tells us quite a bit not just about him.
It tells us how a slick, smooth style with movie-star looks, a clever mouth and popular pronouncements can count for more in public popularity than accomplishments.
Cuomo deserved an Emmy for his entertaining and informative press conferences described in adulatory terms in a Variety magazine piece that also had the quote about his being sexy.
But his chest-thumping book about his anti-virus genius encountered a rebuttal when it was learned that he had ordered once virus-infected patients from hospitals into nursing homes where infections and deaths could thereby go up.
At first, he said he made no such order, but he did.
Then he said the Centers for Disease Control recommended it, even though the CDC said the homes had to have means of treatment and isolation, which many didn’t.
The endangerment became more of a problem when it turned out that Cuomo covered up the number of nursing home deaths — announced as 8,500 when the real number was about 15,000 — and got caught despite denials.
For all that, favorable state polls indicated he could run for governor again and win.
He admitted some mistakes, ended the forced-admission policy and, who knows, kissed a young woman on her face.
Or more than one.
Thanks to a load of work by New York’s attorney general, Cuomo was reported to have engaged in bullying sexual behavior with 11 women.
This time the state polls were unfavorable, calling for resignation.
And as impeachment became likely, he finally said OK.
Cuomo said that friendliness of an old school sort had being mistaken for assault.
But this time around he was in far more trouble than when, as a supposed COVID-19 whiz, he did not stop New York from having the second highest virus death rate of any state in the nation on top of more than 9,000 virus-infected patients getting stuck in nursing homes where others could easily be infected.
The Onion, a satirical newspaper that prints insightful jokes instead of real news, came up with this fictional quote from Cuomo:
“Of course, I appreciate the concern about these women’s allegations.
But let’s not forget that I made a concerted effort to cover up the deaths of 9,250 seniors who died because of my negligence — that’s really what we should be talking about, right?”
Here was an issue of character on top of the issue of gubernatorial negligence, perhaps a case of the supposedly informed Cuomo being uninformed, of his doing more to prepare for TV shows than to actually save lives.
That, and the time spent on his book for the sake of moolah and reputation, could have a lot to do with character, too, of course.
The book sold well at first and then, well, kerplop, kind of like his career.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2021 Tribune Content Agency.