New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been in free-fall for months now, with his coronavirus nursing home scandal being followed by troubles relating to his alleged mistreatment of women.
In the latter controversy, he apparently has decided that his best defense is to essentially blame the women whom he made uncomfortable.
On Feb. 28, the governor issued a statement in which he said, “I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
Cuomo also apologized for his behavior in an address March 3, saying, “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly, I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say but that’s the truth.”
The governor was asked about his stance at a news conference Thursday and whether he recognized that his intentions don’t matter in sexual harassment, according to the law.
“I never said anything I believe is inappropriate,” Cuomo said.
“Harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable,” he added. “That is not harassment.
“If I just made you feel uncomfortable, that is not harassment. That’s you feeling uncomfortable.”
These comments are sure to make more enemies than allies in Cuomo’s fight to remain governor. The reaction has been swift and overwhelmingly negative.
“For someone who signed the law defining sexual harassment in New York State, and who claims to have taken the state’s mandated sexual harassment training every year despite Ms. Bennett seeing someone else take it on his behalf, Gov. Cuomo continues to show an alarming degree of ignorance about what constitutes sexual harassment,” said Debra Katz, the lawyer for Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett, according to the New York Post.
According to NBC News, the New York State Equal Employment Opportunity Handbook defines sexual harassment as “any unwanted verbal or physical advances, sexually explicit derogatory statements or sexually discriminatory remarks made by someone which are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, which cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation.”
Bennett herself noted that Cuomo signed the law defining sexual harassment and is now trying to obfuscate that definition.
“When @NYGovCuomo propositioned me for sex, he broke the law,” she said Thursday on Twitter.
“It is very simple: the issue is about his actions, it is not about my feelings. He broke the law (you know, the one he signed). Apologies don’t fix that, and neither do denials.”
When @NYGovCuomo propositioned me for sex, he broke the law. It is very simple: the issue is about his actions, it is not about my feelings. He broke the law (you know, the one he signed). Apologies don’t fix that, and neither do denials. https://t.co/wuQ8eOH9sS
— Charlotte Bennett (@_char_bennett_) May 13, 2021
Lindsey Boylan, a former special adviser to Cuomo, is another one of his accusers. She is now running for Manhattan borough president, and she had her own criticisms of Cuomo, according to NBC News.
“The single most powerful man in New York is trying to play devil’s advocate for himself, contradicting a bill that he himself signed into law,” Boylan said.
The ironic part of this story is that Cuomo practically dug his own grave. It was the left that argued for laws defining a broad range of actions as “harassment,” and he supported that cause.
The governor might be correct that it is unfair for anything that makes someone uncomfortable to be considered harassment. However, he is one of the people who fought for that very standard to be applied.
When the same standard is turned back him, Cuomo believes that he should somehow be above his own law. He is quickly realizing that his liberal standing does not protect him from the wrath of the left.
Even outside of legal definitions, the governor seems to be completely unaware of the social repercussions that his comments have. As a general rule, attempting to shift blame onto others is not a great way to earn public support.
Instead of truly apologizing for his actions, Cuomo has said he is sorry if his actions made people feel bad. It is reminiscent of a 5-year-old giving a half-hearted apology to a sibling after being forced to do so by his parents.
Cuomo’s troubles are from over.
As NBC News reported, there have been “over a half-dozen sexual harassment allegations from different women, including staffers, since March.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James is leading investigations into a number of the allegations against him.
Even if Cuomo is not forced to resign, his public image has been irreparably damaged.
A man who last year was heralded as a hero by the establishment media and many on the left is now one of the most disgraced politicians in America.
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