Updated at 12:00 p.m. ET on March 3, 2021.
Cable-news shows treated Andrew Cuomo like a living legend this summer, thanks to his supposedly superlative handling of the coronavirus pandemic, yet his past few weeks really have been the stuff of myth.
But which myth? Is he Icarus, flying too close to the sun in his premature attempt to claim credit for New York’s public-health prowess, only to have his wings melted by the heat of scandal? Is he Oedipus, brought low by his determination to eclipse his father? Or is he simply Zeus, a powerful man prone to wrathful outbursts and sexual misconduct?
The New York governor finds himself in a perilous position right now, though it is not yet clear how perilous. Cuomo’s COVID-19 approach no longer looks quite so good. Compared with other states, New York hasn’t obviously outperformed, and if not all of that is precisely Cuomo’s fault, it does make his decision to publish a book claiming credit back in October seem unwise. Worse are revelations about the number of deaths in New York nursing homes, especially after a top aide privately acknowledged that the administration had covered up the toll.
The more immediate threat to Cuomo are claims of sexual harassment. Over the past week, three women, two of them former aides, have come forward to share stories of his disturbing behavior—inappropriate jokes, prying comments, unwanted touching. Cuomo has insisted that his behavior was misinterpreted as flirting and, in short, apologized if anyone was offended, while remaining essentially defiant about the actual behavior. There have been a few calls for Cuomo to resign, though so far they are not widespread. Having skirmished with Albany lawmakers, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the press, Cuomo has few defenders, even in his own party, but there’s also no one who can topple him at the moment.