It's gratifying to see prestigious awards bestowed on those who share our political or aesthetic sensibilities. Such awards confirm our predilections, assuring us that we're on the side of the angels. Unfortunately, political partisanship often clouds the judgment of those responsible for the award. The predictable result is a long list of unmerited prizes.
For example, in 2009, when Barack Obama had barely been sworn into office, the Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama was flummoxed and knew the award was excessive. He decided that the least bad option was to accept it graciously.
In 2016, the Nobel Committee again continued its streak of surprise announcements when it awarded Bob Dylan the prize for literature, a turn of events that astonished everyone, no one more so than Dylan himself. Again, after some initial hesitation, Dylan put on a brave face and accepted the award, candidly admitting in his acceptance speech that he had long stopped reading novels—a decidedly odd trait for the recipient of the world’s pre-eminent literary award.
I should confess that I'm no great fan of Cuomo. In the self-regard sweepstakes of American politicians, New York’s governor is in a league of his own. As befits a man of such hubris, his governing style is best characterized as neo-monarchical.
But watching his news conferences, I had to admit that he was impressive. His bearing and demeanor conveyed a gravitas appropriate to the occasion, and his words were carefully chosen. It appeared that he was the adult in charge. One might have been forgiven for thinking that here was a real leader during a national time of crisis. He certainly fooled the folks who awarded him an Emmy.
But he then compounded his inexplicable decision by trying to cover it up, altering the numbers, and allegedly threatening anyone who dared to blow the whistle. In January, New York attorney general Letitia James reported that the actual deaths may have been underreported by 50 percent. The magnitude of what Cuomo had wrought was shocking; within days, the number of nursing home deaths swelled from 8,700 to more than 13,000.
Public figures, including Democratic politicians, are now demanding Cuomo’s resignation. Ron Kim, a Democratic Assemblyman from Queens, called Cuomo’s actions a coverup and potentially a crime and is now leading the charge for impeachment. Adopting the “New York Tough” attitude for which he is well known, Cuomo has allegedly threatened to “destroy” Kim.
The ancient Greeks knew that there's never a happy ending to stories involving protagonists possessed of overweening pride. Hubris is always followed by nemesis, as the morality tale of Gov. Cuomo once again proves. One hopes that the good folks responsible for awarding the Emmys are paying attention.