I know it’s a massive understatement to say there are a lot of weird things going on right now, but who the hell could have predicted Cuomo lust? Here’s a sampling. Molly Jong-Fast at Vogue:
I wanted to like Cuomo, but I was troubled by his work with the sketchy IDC, a group of supposed Democrats who helped the Republicans control the New York State Senate for many years. Cuomo just didn’t speak to me, or rather, he spoke to me in a gruff, gravelly, overly emphatic and slightly obnoxious way about obscure bureaucratic infighting. He felt joyless, not exciting. I liked him but I didn’t like him like him. He was no Sherrod Brown, no Chris Murphy, no Val Deming, no Tammy Duckworth.
But what a difference a pandemic makes. All of a sudden, I love Governor Cuomo, his soothing Queens accent, his stories about his dad Mario (himself a three-time governor of New York) and his 88-year-old mother Matilda. And then there’s Andrew the dad, embarrassing his kids with stories of their upbringing after his divorce, when he was a single father, and bringing his 22-year-old daughter Michaela to one of his coronavirus press briefings, suggesting it was “cooler” to be with him there than to be on the spring break vacation she had just wisely cancelled.
Rebecca Fishbein at Jezebel:
I worked in local New York news for years and developed an intense and reasonable dislike of Cuomo. He has repeatedly hindered attempts to reform the criminal justice system, he took advantage of a once largely conservative state Congress to keep progressive legislation on reproductive health from becoming law, he fucked around with the MTA so much he forced out the only useful subway leader the administration’s ever seen, etc., etc., etc.
And yet, in this time of crisis, with little concrete information available, I need Cuomo’s measured bullying, his love of circumventing the federal government, his sparring with increasingly incompetent city leadership. Not only that, but the less contact I have with other humans, the more I start to think of Cuomo as my only friend. I’ve started laughing at his little jokes. I catch myself touching my hair (not my face!) when he talks about an increase in testing capacity. I swooned when he told a reporter he had his own workout routine. I have watched a clip of him and brother Chris Cuomo bickering about their mother at least 20 times. I think I have a crush???
Cuomo called Fishbein later and, well, you read it.
Anyway, I watched a couple of Cuomo’s press conferences on YouTube and I don’t get the lust, but I do get why he’s so comforting, and why his asshole guy-from-Queens persona is more than tolerable right now, especially since he’s a very competent and experienced asshole, unlike you know who. His press conferences are repetitive, and could be boring, if it weren’t life and death, when saying the same true things over and over is reassuring. He is absolutely frank about the possible bad outcomes, and straightforward about the solutions. His little civics lessons, his clumsy attempt to reach out to young people who are still gathering together (“YOU ARE WRONG” on a PowerPoint was one attempt I saw), his bragging about New York’s firsts (marriage equality, environmental law) — all of this would be fodder for derision outside this context.
I keep going back to Paul Campos’ simple point that Trump could be Churchill if he just could be a normal human being. Cuomo, a guy that nobody really likes, but everybody grudgingly acknowledged was decent at his job, is a perfect example of how somebody good can be great when they rise to an occasion.