March 2021 Quickie.
Cuomo, Tanden & Manchin.
Summary: In our inaugural Quickie, we take a topical look at three members of the Democratic Party that are having very different experiences of late: embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, failed O.M.B. appointee Neera Tanden, and Senator I’m-so-fucking-important Joe Manchin.
In our inaugural Quickie, we take a topical look at three members of the Democratic Party that are having very different experiences of late: embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, failed Office Of Management And Budget (OMB) appointee Neera Tanden, and Senator I’m-so-fucking-important Joe Manchin.
I’m gonna break a taboo here and let you all in on the worst kept secret in New York. Cuomo’s an asshole. Always been an asshole. Always gonna be.
Back in the day, he had a nickname when his father Mario was governor of New York. They called him the “Prince of Darkness.” True story. When the old man couldn’t get someone to see things his way, he would call on his beloved son and angel of death Andrew, to—you know—straighten things out.
The most infamous story is when Mario and Ed Koch were rivals in NY running a primary for New York City mayor. At one point, posters appeared in the city that said, “Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo,” taking shots at Koch’s sexuality. Then there was the whisper campaign where the nickname Koch-sucker spread through political circles. Most New York insiders credited these as Andrew inventions, which the family obviously denied.
Here’s the upside of Andrew. People are so fucking terrified of this guy that he gets things done. And this isn’t hyperbole. He’s a bully of the highest order. My bigger Andrew problem is that he passes himself off as a progressive, but a tough one. In reality, he’s just a poll watcher. Not like the 97-year-old person that works on Election Day. Like, he only moves when the polls suggest that it’s politically viable. Not a progressive by any stretch. Gay rights, banning fracking, legalizing weed. Andy is always late to the party when New York should be at the forefront of the national progressive agenda.
The most significant trait Andrew inherited from his old man is the insistence on micromanaging every last fucking detail.
Beyond his obsession with embarrassing Bill de Blasio literally every chance he gets, which is like beating up on a small, stupid child, Andrew won’t let anything go without his approval. When his father was governor, it was a known fact that if you wanted to sneeze or take a shit you had to run it by the “second floor.” In other words, nothing happened unless Mario gave the nod. But like most second gens, Andrew is missing some of the key ingredients that made his father who he was.
Francis Ford Coppola spoke about the Godfather as a story about a family, not about the mafia. He said he viewed the sons as each having distinct traits of the father. Fredo, the sweet side, Sonny the anger, and Michael the cold, calculating side. Andrew is kind of like Sonny and Michael rolled into one, but he’s missing that gene that allows him to connect with people like his brother Chris does.
Look, there’s no doubt the guy can be effective when he wants to. He’s smart. He’s a fucking bulldog. And he is through and through New York. There were times when I had irrational fantasies about him slapping the piss out of Donald Trump while saying, “Stay outta Queens you fucking jerkoff.” I know, I know. Not the most progressive fantasy one can have.
But there’s no hiding that he’s just a jerk. And now, as we know, kind of a creep. And as a Democrat, Andrew is not, and never has been, a friend to progressives. In fact, he looks down on the notion of progressivism with complete and utter disdain. His management over the nursing home catastrophe was, well, a catastrophe. There were so many good things about the way he communicated during this time, but the audacity to write a fucking book about leadership at the height of the fucking crisis when you run the state with the most deaths and the jewel in your fucking state—New York City—is so upside down people are writing articles about how it’s actually dead?
Andrew’s toast. Oh, he’s not gonna leave or nuthin’. He’s just toast. Because being a bully caught up to him, and while it won’t cost him the governor’s seat, he’s given his many, many detractors in the Democratic Party the ability to keep him from the one thing he covets more than anything: Biden’s job.
Ah, the curious case of Neera Tanden, whose future was undone by her past transgressions on Twitter.
UCLA, Yale University Law, head of a progressive organization, former staffer to Hillary Clinton. Immensely qualified and super smart. What miss fussy britches forgot along the way was to find some fucking manners! Like Ted Cruz. Or Josh Hawley. Steve Bannon. Michael Flynn. Brett Kavanaugh or Clarence Thomas. Or maybe Andrew Cuomo.
As Tanden was furiously deleting her past tweets, the Democrats and Republicans she had publicly skewered for years were licking their chops in anticipation of her confirmation hearing to head the OMB. While she was busy looking up the ladder, she failed to simply look down. Had she done so, she would have seen what we’ve known all along.
She’s not a man. Girls aren’t allowed to troll people on Twitter! Only boys can be Twitter cocks and still be elected President of the United States.
Bernie Sanders, who was often the subject of her digital assassinations, acknowledged her behavior, accepted her apology and simply moved on because, as we know, Bernie Sanders is a fucking grown-up who was able to look past the fact that Tanden’s job during the primary seasons was to assail Bernie’s credibility and perform the attack dog function for the DNC.
Don’t misunderstand me, Tanden is a fucking asshole. But a fucking asshole who was eminently qualified to do a really important job. Alas, she ultimately withdrew her application because it was clear the Republicans who were remarkably quiet during the tenure of their pussy grabbing president, were going to line up in opposition to her and join with the one Democrat who rounds out our unf*cking Quickie session.
Senator Joe Manchin, the most powerful man in Warshingtun DC from the coal mining, shit kicking state of West Virginia. That’s right. This good old boy wasn’t about to let some shit talkin’, high falootin,’ uppity woman with no manners take a cabinet position.
Manchin has been referred to ad nauseam as the most powerful man in Washington because he’s willing to break ranks with his fellow Democrats to just keep everything in line and hunky dory, because these here United States don’t need a-fixing. They just need a little tending to.
So it seems like on the important stuff, we’re all going to have to wait for ol’ Joe to make up his mind, just like we did with the latest stimulus bill. And while he was making up his mind, he found time to fight with fellow septuagenarian Bernie Sanders over how much to dole out in the package.
Here’s the rub about Manchin, who is causing a lot of hand wringing in DC. Even if the Democrats find their nerve and eventually kill the filibuster, or do it Manchin’s way and make it really, really fucking hard to execute, his known stance on breaking ranks with fellow dems does put him in the catbird seat. My advice on Manchin is not to lose any sleep over him. As a practical matter, it’s fairly astounding that Democrats in West Virginia control their own bladders let alone half of their U.S. Senate representation.
Manchin will play a role in our next essay, where we break down stimulus bills past and present and place them in their proper context.
What this Quickie highlights is the breadth of the Democratic Party and how it will likely never fully get its shit together.
As fractured as the Republican Party is over its future, Republicans themselves always understand where they are in the moment and have a playbook for how to behave in any circumstance. Most notably, for now, as the opposition.
Their clear contempt for procedure and for the American people is still obvious and on full display. The vile nature of their attempts to subvert the stimulus bill and ignore the needs of the people out of fear that some people who might not need it will get something is so laughable, given their propensity to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthy and subsidies to industries with an aversion to paying taxes.
If you believe that consistency, like we see with Republicans, is an admirable and even principled way to govern, and you believe that a government exists to support the general welfare of its people, then the progressive end of the Democratic Party and its spiritual leader Bernie Sanders, is the only patch of hope. All the more reason to buckle down during the off-season and fight to elect progressive Democrats who are aligned with the people of this country. Although, beware the trappings of DC, as we saw with Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who despite holding herself out as a progressive, turned her back on the working class so hard she should have whiplash. Check out David Sirota’s take in the Jacobin to see how she’s standing in the way of reforming the filibuster and how she helped sink the $15 minimum wage.
So back to the beginning we go. What do Cuomo, Tanden and Manchin have in common besides party affiliation?
Consistently inconsistent in their faux alignment with the people when it matters. Cuomo wears a progressive mask, but is anything but. Tanden tried to pretend she felt remorse over her vituperative attacks on progressives. And Manchin is having his moment in the sun by acting like the Republican he is while wearing a Democrat’s clothing. You know who’s consistent? Bernie Sanders. But you knew that already.
Even Lindsey Graham, the human incarnation of ice cream on a waffle, took a break from doing hot girl shit to laud Sanders at the Tanden committee hearing.
Maybe the most fun and interesting part of what’s happened since the inauguration is watching Bernie put on a political masterclass in outing false progressives while moving the agenda of the country along. When it looked like minimum wage was dead, he forced a vote so Democrats would have to publicly admit they were blocking it. He worked Manchin into a corner to salvage key pieces of unemployment and a barrage of checks on their way to 80% of Americans. He has looked past prior grievances to fairly litigate the business of the U.S. Senate while holding his colleagues accountable and speaking truth to power.
Max is a basic, middle-aged white guy who developed his cultural tastes in the 80s (Miami Vice, NY Mets), became politically aware in the 90s (as a Republican), started actually thinking and writing in the 2000s (shifting left), became completely jaded in the 2010s (moving further left) and eventually decided to launch UNFTR in the 2020s (completely left).