One of the biggest mistakes the left made during the George W. Bush era was to cede the debate on 9/11 to the far right. Not only did respectable far left intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn dismiss the 9/11 Truth movement out of hand, we failed to understand that 9/11 was the central historical event of the early 2000s. One traumatic event put the American people to sleep, at least until Hurricane Katrina rang out like a loud alarm clock alerting us to the incompetence of the Bush Administration. One traumatic event allowed George W. Bush and the American the ruling class to lock political and economic institutions (like the Patriot Act and ICE) into place that we still haven’t abolished, and probably won’t within my lifetime. Not only should the left have embraced the 9/11 Truth movement. We should have talked about 9/11 until everybody got sick of hearing us, until the American public finally said “OK. Let’s repeal George W. Bush’s torture surveillance state. Just shut up already.”
One of the more grotesque cultural events of the early 2000s was the elevation of two men, Rudy Giuliani and Donald Rumsfeld, to the status of American heroes. Even though Giuliani’s incompetence — he put NYC’s emergency response center in World Trade Center 7 — got hundreds of New York City police and firemen killed on 9/11, the media hailed him as “America’s Mayor.” Time Magazine put him on the cover of their magazine as “man of the year.” While he was unable to carry out his plan to postpone the Mayoral elections and serve past his second term, the fawning attention allowed him to found “Giuliani Associates” and make millions of dollars off the memory of 3000 murdered Americans. Even worse, if that’s even possible, was Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense, the neoconservative ideologue who had been a presence in Washington ever since the 1970s when he and Dick Cheney had formed the far right “Team B” inside the Ford Administration. I remember it well. Every day on cable news, Rumsfeld would get on one of the cable news networks and serve up barely coherent one liners to a fawning press corp. When he got around to being coherent, or at least semi-coherent, it was even worse. I believe that even I, as cynical as I am, believed Rumsfeld’s story about Osama Bin Laden’s vast network of highly fortified caves in Afghanistan. I’m pretty sure that if Rumsfeld had argued that Bin Laden was planning to kill us all with “sharks with lasers” I would have believed that too.
It is human nature for a traumatized people to look for strong, male leadership during a crisis. Even here in New Jersey, where most of us are educated, smart, and cynical, a disgusting, fat tub of lard, a dirigible passing himself off as Governor named Chris Christie, managed to elevate himself to folk hero status off of hurricane Irene and Sandy. Thankfully nobody as far as I know ever referred to Christie as a “sex symbol” — and please dear lord if anybody did I don’t need to know about it — but all he had to do was hold a press conference and say “get the hell off the beach” and the New Jersey media immediately started talking about him as presidential material. So here we are in 2020, and the Coronavirus is the new 9/11. Jesus has it been 19 years already? As in 2001, we have a far-right-wing Republican in the White House, but unlike George W. Bush, who had Karl Rove’s well-oiled political machine behind him, Donald Trump is unable to project the air of competence needed for the media to proclaim him a national hero. Joe Biden, the senile old man the Democratic Party establishment pushed into the position of the inevitable Democratic Party candidate for President, has largely been missing in action. Bernie Sanders, a more competent politician than Biden, has at least tried, but he still comes off as a one note ideologue, the same old Bernie giving the same old stump speech. Besides, black people, feminists, and the media all hate him anyway.
Enter Andrew Cuomo, the son of renowned New York City Governor Mario Cuomo, and the leader of the most powerful Democratic Party machine in the country. Cuomo, a reactionary, deeply unattractive character who began his career managing his father’s homophobic attacks on the late Ed Koch — “Vote for Cuomo not the Homo” — is quickly becoming the Democratic Party establishment’s shadow front runner for the Presidential nomination. I won’t make any predictions — I’m always wrong — but it wouldn’t surprise me if Joe Biden taps him as his Vice Presidential candidate and either allows him to be Dick Cheney to his George W. Bush, or simply resigns to spend more time with his family and hands over the nomination. As a result, from the feminist far left to the neoconservative far right we are beginning to see a narrative. Andrew Cuomo, who to my mind looks a bit like a Dick Tracy villain, is now sex symbol. Women all over New York City, and soon all over America, are swooning over his “take charge manner” and rolled up shirt sleeves. It is of course an artificially created and deeply sexist narrative but that doesn’t mean that Americans who hear it enough won’t be won over. Americans are nothing if not easily propagandized. So get ready for Andrew Cuomo, the Donald Rumsfeld of his generation. God help us.
Women are crushing on Gov. Andrew Cuomo — calling his coronavirus press conferences their daily “fix” — during this state of emergency.
Denise Albert, a 45-year-old divorcee on the Upper West Side, is officially smitten.
“For me, it was when I heard him say, ‘My mother is light and joy,’” Albert, co-founder of multi-media company The Moms, told The Post. “What also got me was his speaking about family dynamics — disagreeing with his brother about where his mom should be. … It’s relatable, vulnerable, inspirational. There’s nothing hotter than vulnerability in a man.”