New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Graphic by Cate Weiser.

Cate Weiser

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Graphic by Cate Weiser.

On March 19, “Jezebel” writer Rebecca Fishbein published an article titled, “Help, I Think I’m in Love With Andrew Cuomo.” Here’s the problem: I am not sure if it is satire or not.

In the past few weeks, COVID-19 has gripped the world by storm. In fact, I sit here writing this socially distanced under Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order. Like me, the rest of America has been spending their suddenly abundant time watching our President constantly spout information his own administration admitted to be false. We have reasonably been going a little stir-crazy. But must it come to this?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been addressing his state and the country on a daily basis since the crisis began. The Governor has come to be seen as the Democratic Party’s figurehead during the crisis, a foil to a president who had until recently entertained conspiracy theories about the virus’ existence. This antithesis has left many like Fishbein’s character swooning at his steady competency and public rebuke of Trump. 

But is Cuomo really the hero the country deserves? As Fishbein points out in the article, he has a mean streak with regard to progressive policy, striking down reproductive health legislation and just weeks ago announcing a brand of prison-labor hand sanitizer. He organized an anti-corruption commission only to dissolve it when it targeted political allies. The man admonished then-candidate Barack Obama for “shucking and jiving,” an expression with a long and complicated racial history. He sits firmly on the corporate, centrist side of the Democratic party. 

Fishbein’s article references “Stockholm syndrome,” an apt description of the captive masses who have digitally flocked to the governor’s daily press briefings, helpless to resist the sheer competency on display. “New York Times” columnist Ben Smith called his leadership style “bullying” shortly before labeling him “the executive best suited for the coronavirus crisis.” 

Despite this praise, Cuomo has shown severe faults even during this crisis. His coronavirus budget plan has slashed Medicaid funding, which seems strange considering the praise coming to him in the middle of a major medical emergency. But America cannot help itself; this perfectly adequate man strode into his briefing room and seized the country’s ears and hearts.

The elephant in the room is a past New York politician lionized mid-crisis: Rudy Giuliani. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Giuliani was hailed as a leader in a crisis, a uniting force and — much like Cuomo’s “Coronavirus President” — “America’s Mayor.” 20 years later, he is derided after a series of histrionic appearances on Fox News on behalf of Donald Trump. Might we come to a similar conclusion when our COVID neurosis passes?

I am not saying that America is wrong in their need for comfort in a worrying crisis. But when Twitter hordes genuinely pine that the Democratic Party shirk its primary process and make Andrew Cuomo the presidential nominee, maybe we need to check ourselves.