Estrich: House could Cuomo be so out of touch?

  • Susan Estrich

    Susan Estrich

Posted8/20/2021 1:00 AM

By Susan Estrich

According to The New York Times, the soon-to-be former governor of New York is sitting on $18 million in campaign cash -- with nothing to run for, a first in his life.


Of this I am sure: The guy does not know what hit him. Can it be that a series of meaningless encounters has cost him everything? It can be. Remember, the governor welcomed the inquiry. He continued the same behavior. Clearly, it meant nothing to him.

His first instinct, in defending himself, was that video of him hugging and kissing all manner of people, the point being that what the young women were complaining about was no different, and no more meaningful, than the casual encounters of an old-fashioned politician.

No more meaningful to him, that is. Like kissing babies. Wrong. It was very meaningful to the young women less than half his age who have refused to lean in to the grabby governor.

Politicians, like other powerful men, have been crossing lines for decades. We put up with it. Our daughters aren't. I say, here's to them.

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I first met Andrew Cuomo back in 1988, when I was young and he was even younger. He was doing his father's politics, first promising an endorsement, then pulling it back and then leaking the whole drama to Tim Russert and accusing me and my candidate, Michael Dukakis, of the leak. Whew.

The Cuomos played by their own set of rules, and for decades, it worked. Mario Cuomo did at the 1984 convention what Barack Obama did at the 2004 convention. Except Obama was straightforward about running. Mario Cuomo left his would-be campaign manager stranded at an airport in New Hampshire with the nomination papers ready to file. It was high drama, the whole country watching; only Cuomo could have pulled it off.

The next generation followed suit. Not since John F. Kennedy whispered to the waiting press corps that it was his brother who would be attorney general have we seen such a fraternal act play out. I plead guilty: I loved Andrew Cuomo's press conferences during the pandemic, and of course, I ate up the shots of his brother interviewing him from the basement. It was the political version of "Property Brothers."

All of it was working. He made big money on the book; he had big money in the bank; and other than the nursing home business, he was coasting. Until these meaningless encounters that he can't even remember caught him.


Andrew Cuomo had 11 women making painfully similar complaints. The obvious question you ask is why someone didn't sit him down, years ago, and tell him that he had to stop.

But who?

I remember the people who would give me an earful, and then with the candidate, it was all roses. I remember feeling as if my loyalty was being tested. His closest aide was 38 and had been working for him since her 20s. The power relationship, the age difference, the first woman business -- she wasn't the one to stand up to the governor.

To stand up, you have to be able to walk away. Or to be someone who is there, no matter what.

Like, say, a brother.

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