• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Fellow Feeling: Biden and Cuomo

There appears to be a prevailing bond, a quiet sympathy by which President Joe Biden and Governor Andrew Cuomo remain, now as much as ever, tightly linked. Its source, I think, isn’t especially difficult to discern; one need only glance, and it announces its origin to all who care to see.

Of course, there are reasons both superficial and deep, obvious and slightly more profound, by which their lengthy friendship might be, more or less, explained. One looks to them for answers to the question that asks why, after the peaceable passage of so many dominant and fruitful years in state and federal government, and in the destabilizing tumult of the many controversies with which they’re now faced, do these two men retain so unwavering an intimacy, and so perfectly mutual an esteem?

Both Biden and Cuomo fancy themselves as moderates living (and, more importantly, governing) in an immoderate age. That, in the opinion of their respective patrons and voters, is perhaps the sole quality for which their trusted names continue to attract applause, and by which their distinguished careers continue to experience an unimpeded ascent. It’s by this rather humble feature that their remarkable success is sustained in a world undergoing vast change. They wear that garb of sober-minded center-leftists, a cloak beneath which, as we’ve lately learned, a fair bit of radicalism can be mischievously concealed. So long as people look only at the exterior, however, there is no risk of offending by the cut of this unostentatious suit, and the frank style of this democratic dress.

On the outside, though, they’re the lovably hoary, plainspoken, workaday tenured statesmen, the solid and incorruptible politicians of a bygone era in whom we once placed our confidence and found our hope. Supposedly, they’re Democrats of a different, almost forsaken bent, liberals for whom that sacred word still carries some heft and meaning. In time, as all things do, this will probably change, but that time is not now. In the envious eyes cast from the fringes of their own Party, a Jacobin clique from which all reasonableness is now excluded, they’re viewed as well-heeled elder elites for whom patience is running low. As a couple of men well over sixty years of age, they’re insufficiently woke and unimpressively Caucasian, two pallid figures upon whom callow progressives will fix their aim.

Listed above are but a few, obvious sources of Biden’s and Cuomo’s long-standing bond, that unspoken link from which they’ve derived great political benefit and enduring personal friendship. But the deepest source of their fellow feeling, I’m now convinced—having been apprised of their rampant mistreatment of the gentler sex through the past couple of years—is their chronic predilection for feeling females. A fellow feeling, as it happens, has never been so ignobly based, nor so objectionably expressed. Indeed, if this is how they comport themselves, I’d much prefer they keep their feelings to themselves.

I hope, dear reader, that you’ll excuse the ungentlemanly, uncharacteristic coarseness of this turn of phrase, but it’s necessary in the treatment of two demonstrably coarse men. One’s sentiments can only be elevated so high, before having to stoop down to examine the sordid landscape over which these two elected officials decide to churn their plough.

As it turns out, the real fount out of which their fraternity springs is a shared tendency to prey on subordinate women. Their bond, if it be called a bond, is their abuse of so many innocent females, fine people deserving of respect, chivalry, and fairness, over whom these men opted to exercise their unchecked and libidinous power. One might gasp and question the veracity of such a charge levied against the most empathic Commander-in-Chief, that grandfatherly executive by whom every indecency of our crude, misbehaved forty-fifth president has been erased. One would be incapable of believing that such allegations of sexual impropriety might outlive Mr. Trump, and settle on his successor as well.

It wasn’t long ago when a stream of women came forth with their lurid stories and grave accusations of Mr. Biden’s sexual misconduct. If I recall correctly, the Democratic primary was still in its early and unripe stage, a hopeful, fertile period out of which all observers awaited an attractive candidate daringly to sprout (with a field of over two-dozen candidates, it was a terrain prodigiously well-seeded). Immediately, when one had the audacity to bud forth his head, a heap of opposition research and unfriendly testimony was tossed upon him. The hope, in throwing around so many damning things, was that they’d form a pile beneath which his burgeoning prospects might quickly suffocate, and his momentum might be stopped.

If only to stifle his inglorious ascent, or, perhaps, once and for all, to divulge her long and painfully-held secrets, one woman after another stepped forth to recount the discomfort she felt when alone (or accompanied) in the presence of Joe Biden. There was as disquieting similarity in conduct to which every woman attested, a consistency of approach by which all their troubling tales were linked. It was Biden’s modus operandi, as described,to approach and caress the woman on whom his eye was fixated, to press upon her scalp his nose, to inhale deeply the charming fragrance of her hair, and to whisper some amatory inducement into the ear against which his lips were set.

Of course, this flirtatious script (of which Biden seems to have been the unique author) fails to include his deviant approach toward the forgotten Tara Reade. According to her allegation, for which credibility, one year hence, still isn’t wanting, she was the woman into whom, for lack of a better word, Biden inserted his fingers. He did so after pressing her against a wall, at which point he digitally penetrated her generative part.

If true, this happened in the distant epoch of the 1980s, when Reade was working in the office of Biden, then a Senator from the state of Delaware. Shockingly, little effort was made to corroborate her damning story, a harrowing tale around which there seemed to drift an odor of truth. The press, ever valiant, ever trenchant, received her story with a collective shrug of its shoulders. It looked upon her claims with a languid and an uninterested eye, as though Reade were another importunate woman apt to be dismissed. The New York Times, that fallen paper of record, waited over full two weeks before it reported on the story, claiming, meekly, that it simply wasn’t news and, ergo, need not be covered.

Now, Governor Andrew Cuomo is confronting a similar deluge of sexual harassment claims, a shower by which some opponents wish to see him permanently washed away.

To date, seven women have stepped forth to describe the suggestive remarks, the unwelcome fondling, the unwholesome touching, the crude conversations, and the inappropriate inquiries to which they were frequently subjected. Unlike that of Biden, Cuomo’s behavior seems to have been equally intrusive and off-putting, but somewhat less consistent. On one occasion, he might grope a sheltered and unwilling breast, a sacred promontory atop which none but a lover’s hand is ever allowed to rest. On another, he might suggest a convivial game of strip poker with the aim not of enriching, but of disrobing his opponent before himself. At a reception, he might grasp a retreating and frightened face—one upon which he’d threaten a gubernatorial kiss—or he might linger his hand just a moment too long on that elegant precipice of a woman’s low back, that divine declivity at which the skirt line begins, beyond which no hand should go.

Alas, these are the shared sins, instigated by their “peccant” parts, to which President Biden, in his diminished mental capacity, and Andrew Cuomo, in his desperation and wonted pugnacity, have to answer.

Lucky for them, however, they’re not being pressed exceedingly hard to do so. They’ve experienced somewhat muted outrage and both, to their lasting benefit, are helped by a party and a media in which morality isn’t very highly esteemed. Mr. Biden survived his accusers to ascend to the highest seat of public office. Despite being encouraged by his current understudy, Kamala Harris, to abandon his efforts for the presidency (in light of his sexual misdeeds, and the grave imperative to “believe all women”), there he stands—this nation’s mostly-cognizant leader.

Governor Cuomo’s situation is slightly different. It’s too soon to declare his victory over his accusers—a group toward whom public opinion appears more sympathetically to be inclined—but his future seems propitious. According to the most recent polling data with which I’m acquainted, only thirty-five percent of New Yorkers want him to be impeached. Mind you, this number includes those who think him culpable of the notorious “nursing home” scandal, a black mark for whose commission, any man would rightly be dismissed.

It’s no mystery, then, why President Biden has, thus far, refused to condemn the indecorous behavior of Governor Cuomo. Aside from the crisis at the border, and the Pentagon castigating a conservative talk show host, the fact that he hasn’t continues to be a story by which many are still engrossed. The reason, I tell you, is quite simple: their fellow feeling, their shared history of feeling females, explains Biden’s reticence and, surely Cuomo’s obstinacy. It’s the bond that ties them, however lascivious a link.

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