And it might prove to be the smartest decision Republicans have made in a while. Whether one quotes Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (“the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself”) or Napoleon Bonaparte (“when the enemy is making a false movement, we must take good care not to interrupt him”), the wisest strategy to deal with a self-destructing opponent is to stay out of the way.
That’s especially true when one’s position is as weak as Republicans have in New York:
While Republicans in the state Assembly, who have no actual power in the chamber, are preparing a resolution to begin impeachment proceedings against the governor, the broader approach appears to be more passive as next year’s gubernatorial election approaches. One Republican predicted there wouldn’t be rallies to remind voters of the ongoing nursing home scandal. Nor will there be any lavish fundraisers seeking to exploit sexual harassment accusations made against the governor.
There’s a strategic edge behind this apparent inaction.New York Republicans say they don’t need to lob the kind of explosive attacks associated with the party under former President Donald Trump. As Cuomo continues to lose his grasp on power, they are simply waiting for Democrats to eat their own.
The collectivepower of the New York’s Democrats, who dominate the governor’s mansion, the Legislature and the state’s congressional delegation, has been muted byintra-party divisions over whether to back the embattled Cuomo, said more than a dozen Republican officials, allies, political consultants and strategists in interviews with POLITICO.
“Politics is a very social animal, and like sharks, when people see blood in the water — they attack,” said New York City Council Member Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island). “And right now, Andrew Cuomo is hemorrhaging all across the Atlantic.”
Needless to say, it’s a smart choice, but it’s really their only choice. That impeachment resolution won’t go anywhere until New York Democrats decide they’ve had enough of Cuomo. The more Republicans stay on the heavy attack — and especially if they start campaigning on Cuomo’s removal — the more incentive they provide to Democrats for wagon-circling. At the moment, anyway, all of the incentives for Democrats point to getting as much distance from Cuomo’s stench as possible. As long as that continues, why interfere and distract from the meltdown?
Let’s face it, though — this strategic choice only exists because the media stopped providing Cuomo political cover as the anti-Trump. Cuomo’s bullying tactics have been an open secret in Albany for years, and it’s not much of a stretch from bullying to sexual harassment. Many people raised questions about Cuomo’s orders to nursing homes, almost immediately as they were being implemented, and insisted that the numbers were at least inaccurate. The media chose not to push on those points, but instead to create a narrative elevating Cuomo as the counterweight to the despised Donald Trump on national COVID-19 leadership. Only after Trump left did the media start doing its job on holding Cuomo accountable.
That leads to an interesting hypothetical: would Cuomo face this kind of scrutiny if Trump had won a second term? It’s impossible to say for sure, but I know where I would have put my money.
One does have to wonder just how long this media scrutiny will last, too. At some point, if and when the media has decided to find another target, New York Republicans might have to go back on offense to keep pushing against Cuomo. For right now, though, why do any heavy lifting? Pass the popcorn and hold the ammunition.