Power Overdose: The Rise, Chuzpa, And Fall Of Andrew Cuomo.
Some elected politicians understand their office as service. They are rare, but they do exist. Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, or Margaret Thatcher are examples known to us all. If I look at the Italian politics, I can find not only giants like Alcide De Gasperi, Francesco Cossiga and Oscar Luigi Scalfaro (before his old age ruined him), but also less famous, but excellent people like, just to make an example, our very own, unforgotten Giovanni Marcora.
It’s not only that these people weren’t thieves. It’s the way they understood their office.
Service. Dedication to the Fatherland. Love for their own people.
Most of the other politicians belong, I think, to the whore category. They do and say what needs to be done to get elected. Once elected, they are order takers of those who can influence or decide about their reelection. They make every compromise that it is possible to make whilst staying out of jail, bartering their position with cushioned positions and various privileges for themselves and their families. They have no dignity. They are like the crack addicts of politics, getting their own power fix in a way that is deeply destructive to their soul and conscience whilst remaining small fishes all their lives.
Then there is the third category: the alpha sharks (includes some female sharks). They are the ueber predators, the buccaneers of elected politics. They will normally come out of political monocultures, dominated by one party to which they will obviously belong. They will build a career spanning decades, and as their power grows, a mixture of killer instinct, learned behaviour (often, a powerful papa is behind their skills) and accumulated sleaze will keep them there. I think most of them enrich themselves or their close relatives in one way or the other (Nancy Pelosi’s husband makes a lot of money in share dealings mysteriously proving right in light of subsequent government decisions; I wonder how that may be?), but apart from the money, what they crave most is the power. If the small fishes are crack addicts, these ones are the big cocaine junkies.
The feeling of invincibility that comes with long years of unchecked power is both very addictive and very dangerous. It appears to me that, in many cases, they just become oblivious of the dangers of unchecked behaviour or, actually, excited by them. They push their abuse to the point where a part of the pleasure is not the abuse itself, but that everybody knows they can get away with it. A dangerous development, this one, because it’s like playing with explosives. In a democracy, there is no system so corrupt that it would not expose such a politician to, at least, the risk of a comeuppance. I am not saying, here, that corrupt alpha sharks (of both sexes) always see their careers destroyed. But the risk is there, always, because they court it as their hubris tempts fate more and more. If I think of Italy, Bettino Craxi (who died abroad, wanted by Italian authorities, and chose to die of diabetes in a miserable country without extradition to Italy, rather than have both proper care and jail in a civilised one) is the most famous example.
We have assisted, in the last months, to the slow death (politically speaking, of course) of another such alpha shark. Like Craxi, Andrew Cuomo reacted to the accusations against him with more defiance and more intimidation. Like Craxi, he obviously got a huge kick from his feelings of quasi-omnipotence. Like Craxi, he refused to take the exit discreetly and chose to fight to the last drop of blood instead. Many times, in the last months, the obvious resilience and hard-skinned counter-maneuvering of Cuomo reminded me of Craxi. Like Craxi, he went down in the end.
For Cuomo, it’s no jail yet. He will possibly be spared the fate, as on the one hand the Democrats absolutely do not want the genocide of old people perpetrated by several Democrat Governors to get traction and, on the other hand, criminal action and jail term for sexual harassment seems to put at risk too many of them. Still: addiction or not, he is likely smart enough to know that there is no recovering from this fall.
This was a guy surrounded by such an army of sycophants that he won an Emmy award as even the entertainment world begged for favours at his court. He was seen as a future President. Imagine a guy as corrupt as Biden, but smart, determined, and with that unspoken, but always present, “strong man” allure. A Clinton without the cigar. Ambrosia for Democrats.
All this is at an end now. Like Craxi, Cuomo failed to understand the need to cover himself and, most importantly, failed to understand that, no matter how many people are licking your boots, there will still be those who wait in the shadow for the right moment to cause your fall.
Cuomo’s undoing was – astonishingly enough – not the genocide of old people he ordered, or the terror regime he encouraged to distract the attention from the massacre he himself had caused. It was the way the Democrats have now elected as their chief way to get rid of male politicians who need to go before too many questions about them (see above: genocide) are asked. As a real alpha male (albeit of the wrong kind) he was also a suitable sacrificial victim on the altar of the #metoo religion; an altar which seems extremely selective in the choice of Democrat sacrificial victims (Biden, a serial molester like no other, is still in the highest office, though he often doesn’t remember it), but ruthless once they have been selected.
Craxi would never have gone down for inappropriately touching women (something he did not need to do and, I am sure, he never did, easily available women flocking to him like they always do to powerful alpha males). Cuomo had to suffer this ignominy, but at least he will likely avoid jail.
Trump is riding a wave of popularity unknown for, after Reagan, in a former President; a wave coming, inter alia, from the consciousness that the man actually won big. He has, now, the satisfaction of seeing Cuomo go down in infamy as he ponders whether to accept a 2024 nomination that would be his for the asking.
Trump is a politician of the good kind.
Cuomo, like Craxi, overdosed on his own power.