Cuomo’s Halfhearted Farewell Apology

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I have to admit I wasn’t expecting Andrew Cuomo to resign today, or at all, until the final impeachment writing was on the wall. Of course, he ought to have stepped down a long time ago, when the first credible sexual-harassment allegations came out against him, and yet he didn’t, which is why I expected he wouldn’t do so now. Held to his own “believe all women” standard, he should’ve resigned the moment the very first woman uttered an allegation against him.

But even though Cuomo ultimately did the right thing today, he has left no doubt as to whether he did it for the right reasons. As with his intransigence amidst the earlier allegations, he has continued to dig in his heels and insist that he’s leaving office because it’s the best thing for the state government — not because he actually did anything wrong or anything worth resigning over.

In his comments today, Cuomo dismissed the furor against him as “politically motivated” and said that fighting back would cast the state into months of turmoil, which he cannot countenance inflicting on his citizens. To my knowledge, the governor and his defenders have not managed to produce evidence that either the allegations or the blowback was prompted by political opponents, but I suppose labeling it as such is easier than admitting any fault.

To this day, Cuomo has refused to offer a meaningful apology for or even admit to any real wrongdoing. Though he has uttered the immortal phrase “full responsibility,” he maintains that he “never crossed the line with anyone.”

He went on to say that he “didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn,” as if there were ever a time at which some of the things he allegedly did and said to women had been acceptable. Perhaps there was a time when it was easier for powerful men to get away with doing and saying such things, but that’s really no defense, especially considering Cuomo’s long-time public insistence on a “zero tolerance policy” for sexual harassment.

His initial apology of sorts, offered back in March, wasn’t an admission of guilt, either. “I never knew at the time I was making anyone feel uncomfortable,” he offered meekly. Responding to press questions, he added, “I do not believe that I have ever done anything in my public career that I am ashamed of. I didn’t know that I was making her uncomfortable at the time. I feel badly that I did. I understand that sensitivities have changed and behavior has changed.”

And even now, on his way out the door, Cuomo would like to pass himself off as something of a selfless hero, saying that he’s leaving to avoid a political fight — the implication being: a fight he could easily win — and stepping down so he can “let government get back to being government.” I’m no optimist about the future of New York politics, but it’ll be a better government without him around.