Scratch Andrew Cuomo and you find Donald Trump. While different in many ways, both men are similar in their intemperate use of language. Trump is infamous for his offensive tweets and comments. For the most part Cuomo manages to mask his nasty side behind knee jerk liberal rhetoric about tolerance, but sometimes his mask slips.
Speaking on NY1 in October 2017, Cuomo said of New York State Republican congressional representatives who support tax reform, “I think it’s a modern-day form of treason and they have to be held accountable.” A little later, he said of two representatives who support Trump’s plan, “…Collins and Reed—are the Benedict Arnolds of their time…”
Treason? Benedict Arnolds? For supporting their party? For supporting what they they believe in? Is Cuomo so daft he is unaware of the significance, particularly in New York State, of calling someone a Benedict Arnold? Ben Franklin considered Arnold a worse traitor than Judas. After Arnold defected, Franklin wrote the following to the Marquis de Lafayette: “Judas sold only one man, Arnold three millions.”
But Cuomo didn’t just denigrate the two Republicans, he also uttered what would be considered a threat in a world where mere words melt snowflakes. “We say to these congresspeople. We promise you, if you violate your oath of office and you defraud the voters, you hurt the people of this state, we will remove you from office on Nov. 2, 2018.”
Trump’s tax reform plan has Cuomo so unhinged, he said to Karen Dewitt in an interview on WBFO 88.7, “If the government is about to do a terrible thing, sometimes a shutdown is preferable.” Suggesting Democrats should shut down the federal government over Trump’s tax plan is not the first time Cuomo has suggested a shutdown. In 2015, he told the Christian Science Monitor, “I’d love to see the Democrats stand up and say we’re going to shut down the government or threaten to shut down the government if we don’t get real gun control legislation.” This is the same governor whose office warned of the negative impact of a potential federal government shut down on the State of NY in early 2017 and the same governor who called the 2013 federal government shutdown “…a breakdown of democracy.”
Possibly worse than calling Republicans “Benedict Arnolds” is Cuomo’s statement that the Republican tax plan would “rape and pillage” New York State. In the context of the recent slew of allegations of sexual harassment and assault, Cuomo’s “rape and pillage” comment sounds particularly Trumpian. Cuomo also trumped Trump in his response to reporter Karen Dewitt’s question about what the Cuomo administration could do differently to deal with sexual misconduct. “When you say it’s state government, you do a disservice to women, with all due respect, even though you’re a woman.” He then responded with a rude “no” when she asked him to name just one potential change to state policy on sexual misconduct. The real—the rude, bullying—Andrew Cuomo was revealed in his interchange with Dewitt.
There is one difference between Cuomo and Trump, and that is Cuomo is more self aware. Most of the time he seems to know he has a penchant for saying rude and inflammatory things, which may be why he rarely holds press conferences, and when he does they are often by telephone with several reporters at once and with aides scripting the conference. Trump seems to have no filter. Cuomo has a self imposed filter, but if the filter is not there, watch out.
Cuomo’s filter was missing when he, a third generation Italian-American, said, “You want to deport immigrants? Start with me because I’m an immigrant.” It was missing when he threatened people who, though misguided in my opinion, employ their first amendment rights by boycotting Israel. “It’s very simple: If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott against you,” Cuomo menaced, echoing Gillibrand and Schumer who co-sponsored legislation to make boycotting Israel illegal.
Cuomo was also blowing unfiltered smoke when he said in 2014 conservatives who are pro-life or who support the second amendment or who oppose gay marriage “have no place in the state of New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.” Cuomo rightfully argues that Muslims are New Yorkers but wrongfully implies that Catholics and Evangelicals are not.
With Trump, what you see is what you get—a rude, arrogant, bullying, intolerant politician. With Cuomo, what you DON’T see is what you get—a rude, arrogant, bullying, intolerant politician.
An earlier version of this article appeared in the Recorder when owned by Mcleary Media LLC.