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As Trump steps back in the spotlight, will Cuomo exit stage left?

As Trump steps back in the spotlight, will Cuomo exit stage left?
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The disintegration of the political standing of New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNew York City's suicide mission should alarm the entire nation New York's wealthy could face 51.8 percent tax rate: report Rep. Lee Zeldin announces bid for New York governor MORE (D) is — like the slow-motion collapse of a detonated building, or the gradual fall of any imposing facade — amusing to many observers. But in this case it is instructive as well.

Cuomo was puffed up as the alternative to then-President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks MORE in the administration of the coronavirus crisis. He was constantly hyped on-air by his opinionated younger brother, CNN host Chris CuomoChris CuomoColbert mocks Gaetz after Trump denies he asked for a pardon Universally panned '60 Minutes' hit piece on DeSantis just made him a 2024 frontrunner Former Air Force officer denies Gaetz extortion claims MORE, and was awarded an Emmy for his daily press conferences (the untruthfulness of which is now under investigation) in a vivid illustration of the rabid, mindless partisanship of Hollywood. 

Now the cable-news Cuomo (humorously referred to by Trump as “Freddo,” as in the unintelligent younger Corleone brother in the film “The Godfather”) has declared that he cannot report about his brother on air, before moving on to describe Trump’s appearance at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) as “a coven.” (He seems to be having problems with gender issues too; former White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp and South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - World mourns the death of Prince Philip The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Five things to watch for at the GOP's donor retreat MORE (R) don’t make it as witches.)

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Even casual observers of television will remember the endless pompous primping and strutting of Gov. Cuomo, batting a docile press’s softball pitches out of the park, waffling and bloviating to his adoring audience, while the hate-Trump media reduced daily presidential press briefings on COVID-19 to squalid, insolent bear-baiting. Cuomo was adopted by the Democratic establishment, presumably in conjunction with their media associates, and raised up as a false hero of efficiency, candor and articulation, leading the Empire State courageously through the greatest public health crisis in a century. 

It was a fraud, and it was clear from early on that the governor had no coherent answer for why and to what extent elderly COVID-19 patients were released from hospitals and returned to nursing homes. A person with an IQ in single figures could see that doing so could be a problem, and the news regularly reported inordinately high fatalities in such residences. The media — fawning, lazy and gullible — never pressed Cuomo on that, however, and instead behaved like pages at his counter-Trump coronation.

Once the presidential election was over, the entire Democratic-media apparatus devoted itself to celebrating the departure of Trump and trying to extirpate any questions about the election’s result, threatening skeptics with cancellation almost to the point of extracting their tongues with red-hot tongs. Cuomo was surplus to those requirements, though, and questions inevitably advanced at the pace of events, dragging the sluggish curiosity of the Trump-hating fourth estate behind it. 

Yet, so inflated was Cuomo’s sense of his own invulnerability and virtue that he imagined he could dispose of the question of complicity in the needless death of thousands of people by conducting what amounted to an investigation of himself. It is fresh evidence of the inadequacy of the New York media — and indicative of the imperious arrogance of the New York Democratic Party, which has not heard the word “Republican” uttered in the state since before Michael BloombergMichael BloombergThe truth behind companies' 'net zero' climate commitments The strategy Biden needs to pass his infrastructure plan Bloomberg, former RNC chair Steele back Biden pick for civil rights division MORE’s grace of conversion — that the governor treated this extremely serious subject with such flippancy.

But he apparently had served his purpose and was deemed no longer essential to the get-Trump effort. And so the public stage’s trap-door snapped open under him and the chorus of aggrieved women, hitherto silent about the gaucheries of bygone years, were filed through the public square. Whereas the high possibility of negligence in the wrongful death of thousands of citizens elicited little more than a journalistic ho-hum, the allegations of lewd remarks, unwanted touching and a stolen kiss now appear sufficient to dispatch the governor. He is almost certainly doomed, and even if he blunders on to finish his term, the sun is setting on what once was touted as a political dynasty. 

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It was an unfortunate day in the history of New York state when Mario Cuomo, a much more competent and likable governor than his son, narrowly defeated the considerably more talented Lewis Lehrman for governor in 1982. The elder Cuomo was extravagant and well past his sell-by date when he was defeated in his quest for a fourth term in 1994. (In the last century, the only New York governors who have breasted the four-term tape were Alfred E. Smith, Herbert H. Lehman and Nelson A. Rockefeller.)

Even if Andrew Cuomo clings to the furniture in the governor’s mansion until the end of his term, the bloom is off this rose. It must be one of the ironclad rules of current New York politics that when the most inept mayor in the 400-year history of New York City, Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioNew York City's suicide mission should alarm the entire nation How education entitlements can worsen racial disparities Five states account for nearly 44 percent of new US COVID-19 cases MORE, snorts out of the political thickets to carp and snap at his fellow Democrat in the statehouse, then it is time for a tainted governor to accept the Eliot Spitzer prize for failure in office and slouch off to the thickly forested perdition of used-up politicians.

It was only a few weeks ago when both Cuomos were celebrating what they took to be the political demise of Donald Trump. Yet, Trump powerfully reemerged Sunday at the CPAC meeting in Orlando. And long after the Cuomos are publicly reduced to Freddo’s televised banalities, Trump is likely to command all the attention that even he might want, and will continue to delight and terrify the country with his imperishable political vitality.

And where, one wonders, will Andrew Cuomo be then?

Conrad Black is an essayist, former newspaper publisher, and author of ten books, including three on Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. Follow him on Twitter @ConradMBlack.