Biden: Cuomo must go

Voluntarily, I should add. He thinks Cuomo should go voluntarily, by resigning.

What if he doesn’t, asks Kaitlan Collins of CNN? What if he brazens it out, Ralph-Northam-style? Should he be impeached?

Let’s take one thing at a time, says the president.

Which means no, I assume.

Maybe Biden believes that having the head of the party call on him publicly to quit will shame Cuomo into changing his mind after the defiant posture he took a few hours ago.

But one cannot shame that which is shameless. If Americans had any lingering doubt over whether Cuomo’s a remorseless sociopath, this afternoon’s video comparing what he did to his victims to his friendly embraces of political allies has removed the last shreds of it.

It’s impeachment or bust. Or, I suppose, national and New York Democratic leaders could agitate against him by calling for a credible primary challenger in next year’s gubernatorial race and backing that candidate to the hilt. But that would require sustained political energy. And Dems aren’t going to want to spend that energy on an internecine party battle when they’re desperate to fend off Republicans in the midterms.

So, as happened with Northam, everyone who stands to gain by forgetting about this will duly forget about it after issuing the requisite calls for resignation today. Most New York Democrats have already checked that box, including Chuck Schumer. Pelosi has also now checked it:

Bill de Blasio, who hates Cuomo as much as Cuomo hates him, checked it enthusiastically:

Cuomo’s own lieutenant governor came right to the brink of checking it before stepping back, recognizing that she has a conflict of interest:

My favorite anti-Cuomo statement came from New York Republican Elise Stefanik. Not because she wants Cuomo arrested, although she does. But because she dropped this on Cuomo’s chief lieutenant, Melissa DeRosa.

Why is that interesting? Because Stefanik and DeRosa have (or had) been friends since childhood. They served on the student council together at their elementary school in upstate New York. As recently as 2019 they were still buddy-buddy. Then Stefanik opposed Cuomo’s plan at the start of the pandemic to shift ventilators from upstate New York to NYC and DeRosa unloaded on her. They’ve been knifing each other opportunistically ever since, with DeRosa accusing Stefanik of being pro-insurrection after she helped push Liz Cheney out of leadership and Stefanik gleefully attacking DeRosa and her boss over Cuomo’s 8,000 different scandals in the past year.

A fun little subplot to the Cuomo drama. Anyway.

Having Biden, Pelosi, and everyone else demand Cuomo’s resignation might move these numbers…

…but for how long? In three months, assuming New York’s economic recovery proceeds apace, he’ll be back at these levels. And Biden and other Dems won’t want to reopen an old wound by revisiting their calls for him to resign. Cuomo’s in his 60s and has no second act in politics if he quits, so he won’t quit. He’ll put his head down and dare some Dem to challenge him in his next primary, knowing that whoever does will be attacked with the full force of the Cuomoworld Death Star.

He’ll brazen it out. The only reward to resigning would be regaining a modicum of honor, and sociopaths don’t care about honor. They’d rather have power.

His long video statement this afternoon struck me as a limited hangout, admitting to a venial sin to shift attention from an unproved mortal one. Yes, I spoke in overly personal terms to Charlotte Bennett at times, Cuomo admitted, apologizing for not respecting workplace boundaries — while also claiming that he was only trying to counsel Bennett through her trauma over sexual assault, something he had done for a woman relative of his who’d been assaulted in high school. The guy actually wants people to believe that he crossed the line because he cared too much about the people who work for him.

He’s hoping that most New Yorkers will focus on what was said between him and Bennett instead of the much, much, much queasier allegations made against him in the AG’s report:

None of it’s going to matter. The public’s memory has never been shorter. All of this is just farts in the wind.

Unless…

Maybe Biden calling on Cuomo to resign wasn’t designed to persuade Cuomo. Maybe it was designed to give cover to Democrats in the New York State legislature to take him out and end the party’s Cuomo headache. Are there enough rank-and file Dem lawmakers there willing to risk the governor’s considerable wrath to try to remove him knowing that the president has their back if they do? I’m guessing … no, not remotely. But stay tuned.

I’ll leave you with this.