They Even Called Themselves ‘Cuomosexuals.’ Liberals Find an Excuse for Loving a Thug
Too little too late? Cuomo stripped of his honorary Emmy, given just last year.
Update: On Tuesday, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced it was taking back the honorary Emmy awarded Andrew Cuomo last year. Cuomo was given the International Emmy Founders Award for “effective communication and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.” He was stripped of the honor in light of the report detailing 11 incidents of sexual harassment. Cuomo’s resignation became effective at midnight last night.
He’s soon to be the former governor of New York. No one seems sad about it. Besides Andrew Cuomo himself, his family and friends, and people who tied their political careers to his. And some people who still love him, because it’s a big country and includes people with terrible judgment.
For everyone else, it’s don’t let the door hit you on the backside on your way out, and don’t don’t don’t leave a forwarding address. Just go away.
But everyone loved him the last couple of years. He was the great liberal hero. Possibly the next Democratic president. He made the hard decisions dealing with Covid-19. He did what Trump wouldn’t do. A publisher paid him over $5 million for a book on “leadership lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic,” apparently expecting it to be a huge seller. (It wasn’t. The publisher lost millions.)
Here’s the weirdest, creepiest thing. Some people loved him so much they called themselves — you won’t believe this — “Cuomosexuals.” I can’t imagine even the staunchest liberal actually liking Cuomo, who is a vividly unpleasant human being, but apparently many not only liked him but had mad crushes on him. Ellen DeGeneres, Stephen Colbert, and Trevor Noah for three.
A Psychoanalyst Explains
How do his formerly adoring fans explain this? The New Yorker felt the need to ask a psychoanalyst to explain why so many good liberal people fanboyed about Andrew Cuomo. It does seem to require a psychological explanation.
For David Mills’ description of Andrew Cuomo’s hypocritical opposition to the death penalty, see his You Don’t Really Believe That, Do You, Andrew Cuomo?
NYU’s Virginia Goldner admits her own foolish attraction. “Reading the A.G.’s report, and listening to the Governor’s cynical denials, spurs a kind of embarrassed clarity, similar to the feeling one experiences after running into an old ex. How could we have witnessed these same qualities — in Cuomo’s case, the narcissism, the bullying, the hackneyed paternalism — and found them attractive?”
A very good question. He was, as I said, a vividly unpleasant man. A thug, in fact, who made his thug-ness part of his brand. The man no good father wants his daughter to marry.
Goldner explains that Cuomo “was radiating an eroticized masculinity that has within it hostility and a little tenderness. That combination of soft and hard — mostly hard, but also soft — is what so many women crave in some way.” She called this “retrosexual.” She also said gay men felt this too: “That’s a figure that could easily be hot to a man.” (“Gays fell for Cuomo” is about as homophobic a remark as I can think of.)
Why would a successful man like the governor harass women? Goldner explains this too. “Sexual harassment is not so much about sexual satisfaction,” she says. It’s a “sadomasochistic flirtation.” The writer of the article, staff writer Lizzie Widdicombe, explains what this means. “The harasser enjoys creating sexual tension in the workplace, but what he really likes is the psychological torment. The harassed subordinates are forced to live in a state of fear and confusion.” The abuser enjoys having such power over other people.
Why a Psychoanalyst?
I have two questions about this. Why would the magazine ask for a psychoanalyst’s explanation? And is she right?
Why would The New Yorker ask a psychoanalyst to explain Cuomo’s attraction? Psychoanalysis holds that behind the thoughts we know we’re thinking (the conscious mind) are a lot of thoughts we don’t know we’re thinking (the unconscious mind). Those are a mess and cause a lot of our problems. Many of those thoughts deal with sexual weirdness.
So a mass mad crush on a thug like Cuomo and people calling themselves “Cuomosexuals” just begs for a psychoanalytic treatment. Something weird’s going on.
Fair enough. But I think they’re doing something even more useful to them. They’re looking for an excuse. As Goldner admits, people could see Cuomo’s faults. And they still loved him — not in spite of his faults but because of his faults.
They have no excuse for this. It’s the very thing they attacked Trump voters for doing with Trump, loving him for his faults. How could they do it with Cuomo? How hypocritical is that?
Ah, says the psychoanalyst, we couldn’t help it. Our unconscious mind made us do it. We were raised with the image of a “big, square” father figure and thuggish Andrew Cuomo made us feel like daddy loves us and will protect us. It’s not our fault we fell for him.
I don’t discount that. The mind’s a very funny thing. Even the Apostle Paul didn’t know why he did the things he didn’t want to do and didn’t do the things he wanted to do. The Fall of Man screwed up our psyches as much as anything.
But will Goldner, Widdicombe, DeGeneres, Colbert, Noah, or any other Cuomosexual excuse the “Magats” for doing the same thing with their guy? Trump offered the same combination of hard and soft. He attacked the liberals (hard) and sympathized with his supporters (soft). But no. Psychoanalysis only excuses liberals.
Was the Psychoanalyst Right?
And is the psychoanalyst right? I’d say yes, with limits. People want a strong father and might look for one even in a politician. A Christian would say that God made us to want a strong father. Sin messed up our ability to see the Father we should want, so we fall for really awful human substitutes.
But Goldner’s answer hides the more important answer. She reduces everything to psychology and leaves out (among other things) politics. It’s like explaining the flight of a ball by the energy with which it was thrown but not the direction in which it was thrown — noting the energy but not the purpose to which the energy was directed.
People’s affections and judgments tend to follow their political commitments, and the more intensely they’re committed, the more they’ll adore the powerful person who incarnates those commitments. I think Cuomo’s real attraction was that he hated Trump. They more thuggishly he hated the president, the more his supporters adored him.
Goldner sees this. “The Governor presented himself as an alternative to Trump, and New Yorkers embraced the comparison, swooning over Cuomo’s Queens accent and his tough-guy shtick.” She chooses the example his saying of Trump, “Forget bodyguards. He’d better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the street in New York.” Oooh, tough. Take that, Trump. Don’t mess with us.
So why did some people become giddy “Cuomosexuals”? I don’t doubt the psychological explanation, but I think the reason’s simpler: though Andrew Cuomo is mean little brute, he was their mean little brute.
David Mills is a senior editor of The Stream. After teaching writing in a seminary, he has been editor of Touchstone and the executive editor of First Things. His previous article for The Stream was Those Mean, Peevish Christians and the Life They Lose.