What is Cuomo’s problem?

A new batch of political opinion polls is out and they all spell really bad news for the political class in Albany and particularly for Governor Andrew Cuomo. As they say in the fishing business, Cuomo’s numbers are sinking fast. Also like the fishing business, everything is beginning to stink. People don’t really follow politics all that much. They do, however, get the idea about how things are going. Cuomo came into town riding on a white horse, saying that he was going to clean things up. One thing is for sure, he has not done that. In fact, the case could be made that he has worsened the situation. Now, however, he is beginning to go after all of his perceived enemies, which seems to be everyone, big time. We are all asking, “What is his problem?”

When you pick a fight with the well-liked state Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, people want to know why you are doing that. Now he is once again going after state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asking state workers to evaluate Schneiderman’s work. This is what we used to call “trying to pick a fight” in the old days. It would be fun and appropriate if Schneiderman and DiNapoli asked all the people in their departments to evaluate the governor.

Considering Cuomo’s low polls in a stratified sample of New York state voters, the results of polling state workers would have to be pretty bad for Cuomo. His problem, of course, seems to be that he gets angry and fires way before he sees the whites of his frenemies’ eyes. His list of perceived enemies keeps growing. Among them is Mayor Bill de Blasio who has plenty of problems of his own. Poor de Blasio must be walking around with his head held between his hands as if he had a fierce toothache. There are those who believe that the poor guy really thought that he and Andrew were best friends. It turns out that Cuomo has turned his cannon around on de Blasio and loaded it with lethal metal fragments. Maybe this is because Cuomo thought he was on the way to the presidency and that de Blasio, with his populist appeal, would get in the way of this country’s highest political prize. Maybe because Andrew just believes that everyone who isn’t him is untrustworthy and a natural political enemy. There are some wild animals that are like that.

Some animals in the forest can coexist and some cannot. When a politician eschews alliances and considers everyone an enemy, he does so at his own risk. When the other political players are frightened by political bullies, they band together in a defensive posture. Witness DiNapoli and Schneiderman.

It doesn’t stop with politicians. Cuomo is known and respected up to now as a take-no-prisoners tough guy, but his political antennae seem corrupted. His picking on the teachers of New York state is dumber than dumb. It appears that he fell in with a crowd of rich potential funders who are always yelling about “educational reform.” Maybe he wanted their money and he became a fierce charter school advocate and then adopted positions which then threatened the hell out of the teachers who are underpaid and overworked. Their tenure is one of the few things they do have going for them, and however Cuomo meant it, the teachers saw him as looking to evaluate them with an eye toward firing them. These are usually people who want nothing to do with Albany politics, but they sure got a wakeup call. I talk to them all the time and they are angrier than I have ever seen them.

Even on subjects like “fracking,” which the liberal community took on wholesale and which the governor has now said “no” to, no one trusts him because it sure seemed like he was hardly against the idea for a lot of years. When you add up the Moreland Act Commission missteps and his fight picking, you see a guy who had better start re-evaluating the way he does things.

Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 6/8/15
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