Opinion: A Modest Proposal for Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Opinion: A Modest Proposal for Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Andrew, we have to talk. Earlier this week you advised Karen Dewitt of NYS Public Radio that she was doing a “disservice to women” by asking you what you had done to prevent sexual harassment in state government. You so graciously explained to DeWitt, a woman who has worked in journalism for much longer than you’ve been governor, that  “Look, you have it going on in journalism,” and challenged her: “What are you going to do differently?”

And that’s why I’m writing you today. To challenge you. To offer advice from a reporter to a politician on how he might strengthen his overall communications strategy.

A man with your first-in-the-nation legislative accomplishments, your pedigree, your political mind, deserves, nay, needs a first-class skill set in human interaction. A man of your stature shouldn’t be holding his nose in the air when John Q. Public, or Jane C. Reporter comes skulking around the hallowed halls of government or a ceremonial ego-stroking ceremony. Disdainful glare should not be your fallback look, Andrew. Spiteful smiter of the insolent is not the image you want to project while running for national office.

I hate to break it to you, but you simply have to learn to deal with these people. A direct smile, a little warmth, a facial expression that betrays the slightest bit of humanity would go a long way for a man who wants to claim the presidency.

Don’t worry, don’t worry, you don’t have to mean it. Honestly, Andrew, I’m surprised no one’s had this talk with you earlier. You need to figure out how to present yourself to the public. Hell, the American people might need you to figure it out if you go storming your way into the Presidential race, knifing all the Democratic competition in the back on your way to the top.

That’s why I’m writing, Andrew. I want to offer my services. I can’t possibly watch you go on like this. All the hiding from reporters, trying to feed them questions, avoiding Albany as if Preet Bharara lived there, only to venture into public a day later and let the beasts in the Legislative Correspondents Association get the better of you. Your response to that DeWitt person was honestly quite gauche, but I understand, Andrew, trust me, I do.

Maybe no one’s told you this yet, maybe no one sat you down for the talk. Westchester can be quite an isolating (expensive) place to live. You do pay the help well, though, don’t you? One hundred thousand dollars a year to lie to those silly press people, to insult them on Twitter, to tout your periodic side-of-the-road tire-changing heroics; to spin your email deletion policies, your best friend’s federal corruption trials. Isn’t it hysterical how we call them Public Information Officers? HAHAHAHA, oh deary me.

But do you listen to them, Andrew? Do you really? Or do you scream at them, do you lose control and scream and scream in staff meetings until your audience is but a puddle of tears? Perhaps you’ve just hired yourself a team of yes-people. But what value is there in that, Andrew? Why waste all that taxpayer money to hear what you want to hear?  

Let me cut to the chase; I’m willing, for the good of New York State, America, and my wallet to lend you my services for one year–a once-in-a-lifetime course in pretending to tolerate humans.

I will dig deep into my experiences with depression and social anxiety to help you put on a happy face, crack an agreeable smile and glad-hand for hours. I’ll teach you the art of deflecting a reporter’s question.

“What have I done about sexual harassment? Let me tell you what I’ve done about sexual harassment, Karen! Let me tell you what I’m going to do.” So simple, so rewarding. No need for conflict; you could see it as serving the public, being straight with reporters, embracing transparency. But really, we both know it will be a way to win, to get back at those nasty little creatures in the press for their prying questions. Triumph is revenge!

Together, we’ll get them!

I’ll teach you the art of self deprecation. People like humor, Andrew, not the Power Point…cough…humor…cough…that you deploy in those droll little State of the State speeches in that ice box you call a convention center. People like to laugh, Andrew.


Perhaps cut the braggadocio down a bit and give a humanizing anecdote. “One time I was at a Manhattan fundraiser with Daniel Loeb and he spilled his glass of $500-a-bottle champagne on his Louis Vuitton slippers!”

No? Maybe something about the sport?

“So get this: I was in the Adirondacks in a canoe race with two legislative leaders who would soon be convicted of federal crimes, only to have them overturned…” Well, maybe not that. Maybe not a real anecdote from your actual real life. But we’ll figure it out, don’t worry.

In all sincerity, Andrew, you’ve done amazing things for New York: you legalized same-sex marriage, you enacted paid family leave, got a modest minimum wage increase, and then had a few other incremental improvements bastardized and corrupted because of your deal with the IDC and Senate Republicans.

But don’t worry, Andrew; the tides have turned, you don’t have to stand astride the political spectra. The tides will have turned so sharply against Trump in 2019 that you’ll be able to run on your accomplishments and tout your progressive bona fides!

Or is it that you are a corporate conservative tied to charter schools, big real estate and one percent interests that couldn’t care less about the average New Yorker?  

Well, no matter. I’m not here to judge. Money talks with me, Andrew. If you’re willing, if you want to be the next president, I can get you there. Just give me a ring, fax me that non-disclosure agreement, and wire me a third of your campaign coffers.

What is a third of a cool $25 mil anyway? Well never mind that for now. I was never very good at math.

Just think of it, Andrew, if the little people liked you, really liked you, you could put aside those dreary but oh-so-chic $50K fundraisers. You wouldn’t have to pretend to tolerate those Hollywood so-and-so’s. Remember how you had to debase yourself on fracking for that green Hulk…er…whats-his-name… Mark Ruffalo? This way you won’t have to spend another minute licking the boots of Laura and Jeff Shell, or Les Moonves. You’ll be able to raise money from the little guy and gal. Small donations will pour in, thousands at a time, $5 here, $20 there. No more nasty quips from those dirty commies at the failing New York Times about how 99 percent of your campaign contributors gave $200 or more, or how 99.9 percent gave $1,000 and up.

And this way you won’t need tricks–as long as you don’t think of personability as a trick.

You can scrap your fraud of a Women’s Equality Party, you can forget another Committee to Save New York, you won’t need to ally yourself with a bunch of hack traitor Democrats.

With me at your side you’ll launch a charm offensive like no one has ever seen. You’ll shake their hands to the core. You’ll smile them into submission. You’ll answer their questions until they can’t take it anymore. You’ll warm up your detractors straight to hell!

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