Ginia Belafonte/NY Times:
Are We Finally Done With Tough-Guy Politicians?
Voters keep electing men with gruff demeanors and sharp elbows. And yet we are surprised when things end badly.
The crux of Mr. Cuomo’s defense against the accusations of assault and impropriety corroborated in the detailed 165 page report from the attorney general’s office is that the world is out of step with his paternalistic, Mediterranean style. His compulsion to ask young women who worked for him about their sex and dating lives was really just “banter,” and that banter was just part and parcel of his fatherly mentorship. That he touched these women over and over — women who worked for him and alongside him in offices, at parties, in elevators — was meant to “convey warmth, nothing more,” as he put it. His were merely the sins of benign tactility.
What has resulted, in addition to the harm caused to nearly a dozen women, is a political crisis that extends far beyond him and his inner circle of enablers to a world of supporters now forced to reckon with the consequences of an attraction to a Dad-in-charge leadership style at any cost. Shortly after the harassment allegations against Mr. Cuomo surfaced early this year, a Siena poll found that only 35 percent of respondents — and just 29 percent of Democrats — believed that he had committed sexual harassment. This is even though, in the case of Charlotte Bennett, one of the first women to come forward, the governor did not deny the substance of the claims against him, merely that he had not intended what was inferred.