The Moral Incoherence of Andrew CuomoApril 3, 2020
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is having a bit of a moment. Cuomo's state, and in particular his state's crown jewel metropolis, has emerged as ground zero of America's fight against the Wuhan coronavirus. The Empire State has been devastated by the epidemic, accounting for nearly half of the nation's confirmed cases and mortalities alike. Sadly, one of the most recent confirmed cases was Cuomo's own brother and CNN primetime anchor, Chris.
As the virus has wreaked havoc, Cuomo's near-daily press briefings have emerged as a fixture of our 24/7 coronavirus media coverage. They are the closest Democratic Party equivalents to the ratings bonanzas that are President Donald Trump's own White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings. And they, along with Cuomo's robust policies in response to the virus, have garnered significant acclaim. Popular Fox News primetime host
Sean Hannity even praised Cuomo on-air while interviewing Trump.
Accordingly, Cuomo's stock in the Democratic firmament is on the rise. Popular political market website PredictIt now pegs Cuomo as the second-most likely candidate to win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, despite the fact he has not even announced his candidacy. There is no small amount of chatter that Democrats may seek to replace the increasingly bumbling Joe Biden with Cuomo at their nominating convention this summer.
Such a boneheaded move would be a boon for Trump's reelection chances. It is difficult to see how Cuomo could viably compete against Trump across the Rust Belt. Between two gruff, straight-talking New Yorkers, voters would stick with the incumbent.
But Cuomo is also undeserving of all the praise he has been receiving. Many justifiable policy responses aside, much of Cuomo's recent rhetoric has highlighted his own galling hypocrisy -- and moral incoherence.
Cuomo captivated many across the country when he accompanied his statewide lockdown order with the soaring oratory that "if everything we do saves just one life, I'll be happy." But taken at face value, this is an unserious statement. In the history of government, it is unlikely that there has ever been a single political theorist or statesman who has sincerely held such an untenable conviction. To govern is to make value judgments about necessary tradeoffs, and perfunctory decisions like raising the speed limit or legalizing alcohol evince a tradeoff made not on the side of saving "just one life" at any cost whatsoever.
But it is truly rich for Andrew Cuomo, of all people, to trumpet a purported commitment to humanity in such brazen fashion. Last year, Cuomo signed into law New York's new Orwellian-named abortion statute, the Reproductive Health Act. Despite this anodyne name, the Act completely removed abortion from New York's criminal code and legalized the procedure up until birth "when necessary to protect a woman's life or health." The word "health" is conveniently not defined, thus paving a clear path for gruesome second- and third-trimester on-demand abortions. So much for the moral imperative to save "just one life."
Cuomo, echoing others, has also repeated the well-worn refrain that "we're all in this together." Normally, channeling such a solidaristic spirit would be welcome -- especially in a time of true crisis. The unity of any people ultimately depends upon the mutually interdependent bonds of citizenship that alone can bind us together.
But for Andrew Cuomo, such rhetoric, welcome though it may be, is hypocritical in the extreme. Though initially elected as a relative pragmatist, Cuomo has consistently governed New York as a cultural darling of the woke left. In 2014, Cuomo infamously bellowed that "extreme conservatives" who are "right-to-life" and "pro-assault-weapon" do not belong "in the state of New York, because that's not who New Yorkers are." That this is now the same man earning plaudits for his attempts to unify all New Yorkers is simply risible.
With Biden seemingly more gaffe-prone and unintelligible than ever before, Democrats may be on the lookout for a last-ditch convention savior this summer. Supporters of President Trump should be quite pleased if Democrats turn to moral ignoramus par excellence Andrew Cuomo.