Though Andrew Cuomo has, thankfully, spared us the trouble of forcing him out of office over multiple credible sexual-harassment allegations, there’s still much to reckon with. Primarily, a toxic political culture that continues to reward bullying and tolerate sexism — but also, what is this guy’s deal? As Cuomo’s exit draws near, I am still haunted by these questions about his deeply bizarre antics. Perhaps we’ll never get answers, but I hope that the next time an elected official takes an unnatural interest in props and starts foisting made-up characters on the public, we’ll recognize the warning signs.
Why did he release book about how he beat COVID-19 before he beat COVID-19?
Obviously, the short answer is money and hubris, but still, what? On October 13, 2020 — days after President Trump was hospitalized, well before the January surge, months before the vaccines were approved — Cuomo published the book American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic, in which he tells “the riveting story of how he took charge in the fight against COVID-19 as New York became the epicenter of the pandemic, offering hard-won lessons in leadership and his vision for the path forward,” according to the publisher’s summary.
In a cover blurb, Lawrence O’Donnell declared: “It is a book unlike anything ever written by a governor before because no one has lived through and managed the crisis that he has.” That first bit turned out to be prescient. It later emerged that Cuomo was set to earn $5.1 million from the book, and state Attorney General Letitia James’s office launched an investigation into whether state resources were used inappropriately to produce the tome. James said last week that the probe is separate from her office’s investigation of the sexual-harassment allegations, and it is ongoing.
Why did he troll us by repeatedly referencing a made-up person during COVID briefings?
A.J. Parkinson, the guy Cuomo kept quoting during his coronavirus press conferences, isn’t a real person; the governor was just sharing an inside joke with his father, who passed away in 2015. Last Week Tonight explains:
Why does this poster exist?
Cuomo offered this explanation when he unveiled this poster in July 2020:
I love history. I love poster art. Poster art is something they did in the early 1900s, late 1800s, when they had to communicate their whole platform on one piece of paper. Over the past few years I’ve done my own posters that capture that feeling. I did a new one for what we went through with COVID and I think the general shape is familiar to you. We went up the mountain, we curved the mountain, we came down the other side and these are little telltale signs that, to me, represent what was going on.
This sheds some light on Cuomo’s deranged thought process, but does not explain why no one stopped him from commissioning a whimsical poster about efforts to stop a virus that killed more than 53,000 New Yorkers and selling it online for $11.50.
Why is there a 3-D version?
What is the boyfriend cliff?
The most curious item on Cuomo’s COVID poster (which is really saying something) was this reference to the “Boyfriend Cliff”:
An investigation by the Cut suggested it likely had something to do with Cuomo’s unsolicited advice to fathers on how to talk about “The Boyfriend”:
As this very summer 2020 paragraph explains:
Chrissy Teigen, who weighed in on Twitter, seems to agree with this reading. She reminded Cuomo that he had claimed to “like the boyfriend,” prompting Cuomo to clarify that “all boyfriends face a steep climb.” A cryptic response, especially considering that this cartoon governor appears to be driving the boyfriend off the cliff’s edge.
Later Cuomo senior deputy communications director Peter Ajemian told the Cut that this was simply a reference to “an ongoing, playful bit the governor has been doing publicly with his family over the past few months to help lighten spirits during an incredibly difficult time.”
Cuomo’s daughters have yet to publicly discuss what this playful bit did to their spirits during an incredibly difficult time.
Why did he keep calling himself a “cool dude in a loose mood”?
During an appearance on WAMC’s “The Roundtable” in June 2019, Governor Cuomo made an odd claim: “I think I’m sort of a laid-back, cool dude in a loose mood.”
He liked the joke so much that he repeated it at a press conference about his COVID response on April 26, 2020:
And during an appearance on his brother Chris Cuomo’s CNN show that same month, in which he also proclaimed himself the “Love Gov” (cringe).
“I’ve always been a soft guy,” the governor said. “I am the Love Gov. I’m a cool dude in a loose mood. You know that. I just say let it go. Just go with the flow, baby.”
“You’ve never said any of those things,” Chris Cuomo replied, inaccurately.
Why did he think this kissing montage was a good idea?
A sure sign that your resignation is long overdue: when the only move you have left is leaning into the negative Italian-American stereotypes that your father spent his career fighting against.
Seriously, what is up with his nipples?
New York conducted a thorough investigation of the protrusions under Cuomo’s polo, but the results were inconclusive. And actually, maybe it’s best I don’t know.