My Buddy Andrew Cuomo

There are politicians and then there are politicians.  Nearly all of them are useless, but there are some that are so low that they seem like fictional characters out of a bad novel, because most of us have never been acquainted with such creatures.  Most American adults are probably familiar with Andrew Cuomo, while here in New York everyone is, even though he’s been out of the picture for well over two years.  He was our governor from 2011 to 2021.  With a few exceptions, everyone I know despised him, even before the Covid era, when the media made him an instant superstar.  I could never stand the guy myself.

For many years I read at least one book a week, but when the internet came along I got into the habit of spending more time reading from the screen.  I regret that in a way, because I really do love books.  But let’s face it, the net really is unsurpassed as a source of knowledge and for staying abreast of current events.  So these days I’m lucky if I read one book a month, and I’m much more selective than I used to be.  When I learned of a biography about Andrew Cuomo entitled The Contender, written by a Michael Shnayerson and published in 2015, my first thought was, “I can’t waste my time reading a book about this piece of shit.”  But in fact I knew nothing about Cuomo’s personal life other than that he had grown up in the New York City borough of Queens — in a ritzy enclave like Forest Hills, I assumed — which is on the western end of Long Island, not far from where I’d grown up across the Nassau County line.  I knew, of course, that he was the son of Mario Cuomo, who had previously served a twelve-year term as governor, and whom I’d never paid any attention to.  I guessed that the Cuomos were just another good-for-nothing family of wealth married to politics — like the Bushes, Kennedys, and Trumps, but on a smaller scale — and that Andrew had been a little spoiled brat who, like George, Donald and Bobby, was set for life the moment he was born.

But my curiosity won out and I bought the book.  And boy, was I in for a surprise. 

There were three to four billion people living on this planet in the 1960s and ’70s, and I must’ve had more in common with Andrew Cuomo than any of them.  He was my long-lost identical twin.  Cuomo’s grandparents, like mine, had emigrated from southern Italy in the early twentieth century.  He grew up, and had a happy, normal childhood, not in a rich area of Queens but in middle-class Holliswood, no different from my childhood in middle-class Williston Park, eight miles away.  I’m four years older than Andrew, and if it means anything, which it doesn’t, we’re both Sagittarians.  I’m the oldest of four, he’s the second oldest of five, and like me he has a younger brother and two younger sisters.  We both attended an all-boys Catholic high school, I Chaminade and he Archbishop Molloy.  As older teens we both worked in gas station/repair shops – on the same busy street, mind you, Hillside Avenue — I at a Sunoco station, he at an Esso station.  (It must be said that he was a skilled mechanic, while I never got past simple tasks like oil changes, tire mounts and battery replacements.)  After graduating high school, Andrew went to LeMoyne College in Syracuse, as I did four years earlier, but — get this — he quickly dropped out because he couldn’t stand the place, exactly as I had!  Also just like me, he ended up commuting to and graduating from another school, Fordham University, while for me it was Adelphi University.  He drove a tow truck at nights and on weekends to help pay his tuition, while I would go on to drive an oil truck for a living.

I can’t imagine the lives of two people, unknown to each other, matching up so closely.  But the similarities ended when Cuomo enrolled in law school after graduating from Fordham, and around the same time followed his father’s footsteps into the cesspool of politics.  Rather than go into his life and career prior to his election as governor, which takes up more than 200 pages of The Contender, I’ll briefly note that his two main stints were Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the Clinton administration, and New York state attorney general.  Also of note was his marriage in 1990 to Kerry Kennedy, the younger sister of RFK Jr., by whom he had three daughters.  But he never felt comfortable with the social graces of America’s first family, nor with his wife’s values and pastimes, and they were divorced in 2005.           

Long before he became governor, Andrew established his reputation as a vicious scumbag, which is what you would expect of anyone, especially a Democrat, rising to the top of the heap in New York politics or at a dysfunctional agency like HUD.  Although The Contender is by no means a hatchet job, Shnayerson made no attempt to sugarcoat the real Andrew Cuomo, as in these recollections from his underlings at HUD:

Andrew’s civil staffers soon realized that their boss was capable of withering criticism.  “He yelled at me in a way that my own parents haven’t yelled at me,” one recalled later.  Another recalled Andrew’s shoving a  report in his chest and barking, “Give me something in plain English.”  One staffer was struck by Andrew’s extremes.  “He was sort of at your feet or at your throat.  He would be charming with you in person and  then talk about you like a dog when you weren’t there.”  If you were with him, the staffer explained, he might bad-mouth someone else.  “Joe Shuldiner, what a dope.”  The staffer would be literally speechless: Shuldiner was one of the other assistant secretaries.  “I would just sit there.  They were my betters!  I couldn’t comment on them.”  Those below Andrew came in for harsher abuse.  They were “fuckheads” or “dumb fucks” if they underperformed.  “He threatens to fire them daily,” one staffer reported at the time.  [He] has a huge foul mouth which he often puts his foot in…. I have to tell you, this guy is a monster.”

When Mario was governor, the media sold him as a dignified liberal statesman.  To me he was just a bland gasbag, but it wasn’t until I read The Contender that I learned he was something of an arrogant prick himself, though not nearly as bad as his son, with whom he had a politically tinged “tough love” but generally close relationship.  The younger son, Chris, former CNN anchor who has bounced around various media rat nests, is another belligerent asshole.  Both Andrew and Chris are big and strong, and I was surprised to learn that Mario, who died in 2015, had been an outfielder in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system until a serious head injury ended his baseball career.

Mean, athletic, ambitious and politically left: that defines the Cuomos, the men at least, and Andrew was the nastiest and furthest left of the three.  He checked every single box, before and after Covid came along.  He was a fanatic gun control advocate who even tried to bankrupt the NRA.  He was for abortion and same-sex marriages.  He regularly marched in New York City’s annual gay pride parade.  He endorsed license plate readers and facial recognition cameras on bridges and tunnels leading into the city.  He ramped up the state’s Orwellian Hate Crimes Task Force, and signed a bill outlawing the display of the Confederate flag on public property, a felony punishable by five years’ imprisonment.  He legalized recreational marijuana.  He established sanctuary counties where illegal invaders were safe, and allowed them to apply for a drivers license, which for a while caused havoc when they mobbed DMV offices.  He signed a bill ending all non-medical vaccine exemptions for schoolchildren.  

But Cuomo is best remembered, especially outside New York, for his daily press briefings in Albany addressing the Covid scamdemic.  These performances began in March 2020 and dragged on for 111 days.  They gave him the opportunity to appear on nationwide television every day — the “Pandemic Daddy” as Vice News called him — taking center stage and beating his chest like a dominant gorilla, apparently unaware that, whenever he wore his official “I’m the guv” polo shirt, his nipple rings were protruding   I was living on Long Island then, 32 miles from the Elmhurst section of Queens, which for a while was designated as the “global epicenter of the epicenter” of the pandemic, yet I didn’t know one person who became ill with symptoms of any kind that year.  I don’t even remember hearing anyone cough!  This did not prevent legions of normies, who believe what they see and hear on television, from forming long lines to wait their turn at having a swab painfully stuck up their noses to fraudulently test for a virus that may not exist.  These were the same people, and I knew some of them, who fell for the media spin that Cuomo was getting the job done, he was a take-charge leader making the tough decisions in the face of a worldwide medical emergency.  All they had to read or hear was something like “According to the latest New York Times – Siena College poll, the approval rating for Governor Cuomo’s handling of the corona virus pandemic has skyrocketed to 86% among New Yorkers,” and the lemming factor kicked in.  Drunk on power, what he was really doing was dictating harsh lockdown measures under the guise of “executive orders” that made no sense, destroyed small businesses, ruined lives, and made a lot of befuddled people miserable.  He wasn’t the only Democratic governor who did this, of course, but he was one of the worst.  All this as the media continued to sing his praises and even float him as a possible presidential candidate in November.  

A much different reality, however, emerged on the internet, and in a few conservative newspapers like the New York Post, a subsidiary of Fox News — not that I’m a fan of either.  I’m referring to Andrew’s tyrannical decree, issued on March 25 on the advice of state health commissioner Howard Zucker, requiring nursing homes throughout the state to accept infected patients who had been discharged from hospitals.  Whether or not the corona virus exists, and these patients had been infected by it, they had been hospitalized with respiratory ailments, and as viral or bacterial carriers it was pure insanity to send them into the close confines of nursing homes packed with frail, old people.  As anyone could have predicted, thousands quickly became ill and many died, alone and isolated, because Cuomo had also banned visits by family members and friends to these establishments.  As the casualties mounted, the whole scheme came under intense scrutiny, and Cuomo rescinded the order on May 10, blaming everyone but himself for all the unnecessary deaths, some estimates of which ran to 15,000.  Although the mainstream media glossed over the outrage, and went on crowing about Cuomo’s leadership qualities, he was ripped to shreds on the net.  Here’s a sampling that I jotted down, all emphasis in original:  “Governor Cuomo BELONGS IN A CAGE, one way or another, so as to prevent him from killing other innocent, helpless citizens in the future”; “Cuomo is the Angel of Death.  He not only kills elderly people, he also kills babies ready to be born”; “This will continue unless people start hanging politicians from lamp posts for it”; “It was a DELIBERATE decision that MURDERED thousands of vulnerable people.  Yet both these BARBARIC murdering brothers had the gall to LAUGH about it?”  (This refers to the frequent banter on TV between Cuomo and his brother Chris, then at CNN.);  “Cuomo killed those old people with his policy just as well as if he shot them, and should be sued to death”; “He’s cold-blooded.  His karma will get him.  There’s not even an excuse.”; “String him up”; “The media gushing about the great job he’s doing?  His rathole state has the most deaths by far.  Is that the measure we’re using for success?”; “…self-centered, unaccountable control freak.  Obviously views seniors as expendable.  Enjoys the spotlight.”;  “Hey Governor Cuomo, how many Grannies did you kill today?”; “Cuomo being a white hating communist exactly like the media is why he has been sainted.  Cuomo should be arrested, tortured, disemboweled and hung from a pole until he rots.”  

By the end of the year Covid fatigue had set in, Andy was no longer a superstar, and calls for a federal investigation into the nursing home deaths and subsequent cover-up were rising, news of which even seeped into the mainstream media.  Nothing ever came of it, of course.  I believe it was a scheme, dictated by hidden forces above, to kill off a substantial number of seniors who were draining Medicare funds.  That, unfortunately, is how the world works, dear reader.  In a just society, Cuomo, Zucker, and many others would be arrested on a charge of premeditated murder, given a fair trial, and if found guilty hanged by the neck, their executions livestreamed on the internet.  Instead, they began pushing for the lethal “safe and effective” Covid vaccine, which was rolled out on December 14, 2020.  That campaign, and the propaganda and pressure that accompanied it, is known by everyone and need not be restated here, though it’s worth mentioning that New York City, under the boot of Mayor Bill DeBlasio, another horrible person, was by the far the worst place in the state to live and work, as it had been during the lockdown.  

As leading thinkers like Whoopi Goldberg, Lady Gaga, Howard Stern, and Joe Biden were blasting those who had no intention of being injected, I wondered if Andrew Cuomo would try to mobilize local police to hunt down resisters and forcibly vaccinate them, and I wondered how I would deal with that.  I’m not a tough guy, I’ve never harmed or threatened anyone, but I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot anyone who tried to force a needle into me if I knew I could get away with it.  The problem is, I knew I could never get away with it and I’d likely be spending the rest of my life in prison.  Cuomo actually came very close to ordering the unthinkable when, at a briefing on July 26, 2021, while discussing communities with lagging vaccination rates, he said, “We have to knock on those doors, and we have to convince people, put them in cars and drive them and get that vaccine in their arm.  That is the mission.”  An old friend of mine, a retired, high-ranking cop in the New York metro area, once told me that he hated Cuomo’s guts and every cop he knew felt the same way.  So when I heard of his new “mission” I hoped that one of his state police detail would turn around and put a bullet in his head.  Instead, the Cuomo dictatorship abruptly ended one month later in a most unexpected way.  He was accused by a female staffer, then another, then another, of sexual harassment, and was pressured to resign by a greater force, the Jewish media establishment.  It almost seemed unfair.  Wasn’t he a fervent supporter of Israel?  And what did he do that was so bad?  True, his hands and lips did some unwanted exploring, but what was that compared to Joe Biden’s habit of caressing and scaring little girls, and worse, Bill Clinton’s rap sheet as a serial rapist while governor of Arkansas, not to mention hot sex in the oval office with Monica Lewinsky.  Joe and Bill got a free pass from the media, so why not him?  I can’t answer that, but I was relieved to see him sent packing.  After that happy day, August 24, Andrew faded into oblivion.  I checked on him last year, and read that he was hanging out in the Hamptons with his longtime pal Billy Joel, and keeping a low profile. 

What makes psychopaths like Andrew Cuomo tick?  To answer that difficult question, I brushed up on two other communist tyrants that reminded me of Cuomo: Nikita Khrushchev and Nicolae Ceausescu.  Khrushchev, an old crony of Josef Stalin, grabbed the reins of power in the old Soviet Union after Stalin died in 1953, and eased up slightly on the repression.  On February 25, 1956 he gave a famous “secret speech” denouncing Stalin for his purges, though he himself had been instrumental in carrying out some of Stalin’s bloody policies, and he showed his true colors after this hypocritical speech when he crushed the Hungarian uprising later that year with Soviet tanks amid great loss of life.  Khrushchev came from a peasant background, lower on the socioeconomic scale than the Cuomos, but there were parallels.  As a young man he earned a living as a common laborer, mainly a metal worker, and like Andrew, he got into politics in his early twenties, joining the Bolshevik government, and also like Andrew he had a reputation for being crude, along with a volatile temper.  There’s a story of him becoming enraged at remarks during a speech by a Philippine delegate at a UN General Assembly meeting in 1960, where he took off his shoe and banged it on his desk.  I have no recollection of that event, but I was old enough to remember him being in the news from time to time in the early sixties.  He was ousted in a Kremlin power struggle in 1964, but allowed to live out his remaining seven years in a dacha outside Moscow — kind of the like the obscure but comfortable retirement Cuomo could’ve enjoyed.

As for the megalomaniac Ceausescu, who ruled Romania with an iron fist for 24 years, he too had humble beginnings, finding work as an apprentice shoemaker.  A born agitator with a combative personality, just like Andrew, his political career started early, and his underground activities frequently landed him in prison until shortly after World War Two, when the dark cloud of communism descended on the eastern half of Europe.  Rising through the ranks, he eventually became the country’s sole leader in partnership with his wretched wife Elena.  It’s a complex story that I won’t go into here, other than to say that, as time wore on, his rule became more and more oppressive and his mind further divorced from reality.  I visited Romania as an ordinary tourist in 1980 and can attest to the paranoia and oppression that I saw and felt.  Daily life became intolerable until it reached a breaking point in 1989 when the police and military switched sides and captured the Ceausescus, who had fled Bucharest, the capital.  After a brief show trial, they were executed by firing squad on Christmas Day of that year.  All told, no one really knows how many political prisoners were arrested and murdered or broken by long years at hard labor, or died of malnutrition or froze to death in the winter months for lack of heating, due to Ceausescu’s brutality and economic mismanagement, but the number is surely in the hundreds of thousands.   

I see Andrew Cuomo in the same light — perhaps not as genocidal as these two tyrants, but cut from the same cloth.  I think I can read their minds.  They are incapable of thinking in the conventional sense.  The activities that take place in their reptilian brains, their ways of looking at the world, are subordinated to their craving for absolute power, for the delight of holding the power of life and death over millions of ordinary people, and to feel that power, to be able to impose harsh and irrational laws that will make people suffer and die.  That gives their lives meaning.  As I said,  Cuomo was not the only politician to exhibit this behavior during Covid, but his cruelty was unsurpassed.  Psychopaths have always been part of the human condition, and it’s unfortunate that many of them are attracted to the business of government, something that America’s Founding Fathers understood well.

Even though, in my own mind, I’ve figured out Andrew Cuomo, he’s still a bit of a riddle.  How could someone who was my spitting image, as they used to say, and who grew up in the same exact environment that I did — how could he turn out to be such a communist beast?  Not that I claim to be a saint.  And not that Andrew has no redeeming qualities.  As The Contender makes clear, Cuomo always stood loyal to his old friends, he was a protective brother to his sisters, a devoted son, and a doting father to his three girls.  With his basic savvy and knack for engines, he could’ve opened his own automotive shop and made a fine living.  I’ve worked alongside many car and truck mechanics, and most of them were good men who loved their jobs.  Why didn’t Andrew, an ace mechanic, go that route?  Furthermore, even though he instinctively knew that the road to power in New York veers sharply to the left, did he really believe in the causes he embraced?  I never knew a mechanic, or any other blue collar worker, who did.  Case in point: Cuomo’s staunch support of gay rights and the LGBTQ crowd.  A funny story in The Contender illustrates this — at least I thought it was funny, even if Michael Shnayerson didn’t.  The 1977 New York City mayoral race pitted Mario Cuomo against Ed Koch, a brassy Jewish congressman and lifelong bachelor from Manhattan, widely rumored to be a closet queer.  While still taking classes at Fordham, Andrew spent many nights helping his father’s campaign by putting up signs on lamp posts and highway overpasses.  As the race heated up, drivers began seeing numerous signs, mainly in Queens, that read “Vote For Cuomo Not The Homo.”  A heavy suspicion fell on Andrew, who denied doing it, though neither did he disapprove of the message.  Koch, who went on to win the election, was infuriated by the signs and never forgave the Cuomos.  

Out of curiosity, I just did a Google search to see what Andy Boy is up to these days.  I hadn’t heard anything about him in a long time.  To my surprise, he’s lurking in the shadows, weighing his chances of becoming the next mayor of New York City should the beleaguered chump Eric Adams step down.  I watched a short video of a journalist interviewing Cuomo.  He hasn’t changed a bit; he was hitting on all his old talking points.  He clearly lives in a permanent alternate reality and probably has no idea how bitterly he was, and still is, hated for causing all those nursing home deaths.  Speaking of which, I also learned that a House Subcommittee just subpoenaed him to testify about his cover-up of those fatalities.  He’s supposed to show up at a congressional hearing on May 24.  Mark my word, his lawyer will employ the usual stonewalling tactics, and even if the hearing takes place, do you really think Cuomo will be indicted for any crime?  Nothing ever comes out of these hearings, no problem is ever rectified, no justice is ever served,  but it does give politicians of both parties a good opportunity to playact in front of the cameras and feel important.    

The way Cuomo’s mind works, he doesn’t think it was his fault at all.  He has never expressed any remorse or shown any sympathy to the families of those who died — nor, for that matter, to the many victims of the Covid shots he fanatically pushed.  I’d still like to see him standing on a trap door while a noose is adjusted around his neck, but since that’s not going to happen, I’ll take second best.  I really do hope he becomes the next mayor.  New York City is an apocalypse, and only someone like Andrew Cuomo would look forward to running it.  It would be most entertaining to watch this control freak lose control of the worsening chaos, to see all his fantasies explode in his face.  This time, thank God, his mischief will be restricted to the five boroughs.