The decline of Andrew Cuomo has been rapid and sure. After ramming through a despised gun law and taking a hard left turn, a guy who was once one of America’s most-popular governors now has ratings that are decidedly lukewarm.
Upstate, he’s double digits behind a candidate named Anybody But Cuomo.
But that’s not the worst part. Politicians can expect public support to come and go and come again. It comes with the turf.
The real problem for Andrew Cuomo is that he is small. He has the potential to be petty and shrill and in recent days he has sadly lived up to that potential.
I’m talking about his Women’s Equality Act.
It is a 10-plank platform of initiatives and protections generally tailored to protect the interests of women. At one point, he said it was the most important thing on his legislative agenda.
Of its various parts, nine are broadly supported and the tenth is controversial. That’s the abortion plank. Depending on your perspective, it either codifies Roe v Wade protections in state law – in case the Supreme Court changes its mind – or it opens the door to gruesome late-term abortions.
But this isn’t about that.
The abortion argument is going to rage on, and people from both sides will feel strongly about it. But the fact is, it isn’t going to get through the state Senate. For good or ill, there aren’t enough votes in the majority-Democrat body to pass it.
To Andrew Cuomo, that’s a deal breaker.
To common sense, that doesn’t have to be an obstacle.
There is much in the legislation that has nothing to do with abortion, which has bipartisan support and which would easily pass.
Further, and most importantly, there is much in the legislation that would immediately and significantly protect women’s interests.
The rest of the proposal includes workplace protections for pregnant women. It puts teeth into safeguards against human trafficking and pimping. It makes sure that people doing the same job, with the same education and experience, get the same pay.
All of which is supported by legislators in both parties.
All of which Andrew Cuomo is willing to throw away because he can’t get his abortion bill passed.
On Monday, the breakaway Democrats who help lead the state Senate came up with legislation that included everything in the Cuomo bill except the abortion. Their rational was that 90 percent was better than zero percent.
Andrew Cuomo disagreed.
He threatened to veto any women’s rights bill that didn’t include his abortion plank. Abortion seems to be not only his favorite women’s issue, it is apparently his only women’s issue.
All the rest of it, he is willing to throw away.
Put another way, if the other nine planks actually would help women – and they would – then he is willing to leave those women unhelped because he’s throwing a tantrum.
And that is small.
Women who lose their jobs because they’re pregnant will not have access to these protections. The chronic problem of pay inequality won’t get any better. The women and girls trapped into prostitution will have one less defense. Women’s issues will be left untouched.
Because Andrew Cuomo is throwing a fit.
People’s lives will be hurt and the defenseless will go unprotected because he wants all or nothing.
And that’s not about popularity, that’s about character.
A lack of character.
For a politician who has pledged to help women, he seems perfectly willing to stab them in the back.
There are 18 million New Yorkers. Presumably some nine million of them are female.
And he’s just shown that, in the political calculus of his values, he’s more important than all of them put together.