Governor Andrew Cuomo exited the Governor’s Office in disgrace, but watching his pre-taped farewell speech on Monday you would think he was departing as a beloved leader.
Why Cuomo felt the need to give a farewell speech in the first place is one of – but not the only – curious thing about his final address to the people of New York State. We heard more than enough from him when he announced his resignation, proving that the only pity he feels about the sexual harassment allegations and coverup of COVID nursing home deaths is for himself.
And right on brand, he began his 15-minute farewell with another claim of innocence regarding the sexual harassment claims. To believe Cuomo’s version of events, 11 women lied about his actions, the others who testified in the exhaustive report by Attorney General Letitia James also lied, and James was politically motivated to take Cuomo down so she massaged the facts.
“The attorney general’s report was designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic,” Cuomo said. “And it worked.”
Apparently Cuomo is the only person telling the truth here. “Facts still matter,” he said, but only Cuomo’s facts.
And Cuomo would have you believe that he is resigning not because he is guilty of anything, but because he loves you and he loves New York and it’s the right thing to do.
“You know me, I am a fighter,” he said. “And my instinct is to fight this.”
In addition to restating his innocence, the speech was clearly a vehicle for Cuomo to highlight what he feels he accomplished while in office – lest we’ve all forgotten what a great governor he was and how much we’re going to miss him when he’s gone – as well as weigh in on several issues, as if his opinion on them carries any weight.
For example, we’re not sure why Cuomo decided to let us know that he is opposed to defunding the police as he is walking out the door, or why he is giving advice for the people who will serve in office after him. In fact, maybe he could take his own advice to them.
“It’s not what we say in life that matters, it’s what we do,” he said. “And the same is true for our elected officials and our government.”
And despite the controversy surrounding nursing home deaths and the fact that his publisher stopped printing his book about the state’s response to COVID because of a federal criminal investigation, he offered his opinion on dealing with coronavirus going forward.
Kathy Hochul became the first female governor when she was sworn in at midnight on Tuesday, and now the state can begin to move forward. We’re not sure what the future holds for Cuomo. A former aide was quoted on Twitter saying he has no interest in ever running for office again, but we’ll believe it when we see it.
It’s obvious from his speech that Cuomo will not be able to stay in the background for very long. He’s clearly angry and embarrassed, and those who know him attest that he doesn’t let a grudge go easily.
Just ask Mayo Bill de Blasio. Which brings us to what we think was the real point of the farewell speech: the opportunity to take one last shot at the mayor of New York City.
“Eric Adams will be the next mayor of New York City,” Cuomo said toward the end of his speech. “I think he will bring a new philosophy and competence to the position which can give New York City residents hope for the future.”