The Great Leftist Bully Boy Hope

By any empirical measure, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proven utterly disingenuous, and far more so than average politicians. 

Unlike other political mediocrities, his inanities have led to roughly 13,000 unnecessary deaths or more, when he did not fully utilize the federal offer of a hospital ship and makeshift care facilities for COVID-19 patients. Instead, Cuomo sought to make rooms in New York hospitals available largely by transferring or redirecting elderly infected  patients into pristine long-term health-care facilities—and then patently lied about that government-ordered disaster.

Cuomo’s serial sexual harassments and narcissistic violations of the privacy of female aides and acquaintances were serially covered up and contextualized by the leftwing media—most prominently and unethically by his own brother and CNN news anchor, Chris Cuomo. 

The only apparent reasons why Cuomo has not resigned under left-wing pressure are the uncertain ensuing political calculus for Democrats and the embarrassment that Joe Biden—similarly accused by at least eight women of improper touching and unwarranted hugging and squeezing—was photographed violating the private spaces of underage girls, and faced a serious charge of crass sexual assault.

In Orwellian fashion, in the midst of this shipwreck of governance, Cuomo received a book advance package of over $5 million to chronicle his advice on effective leadership. Neither Cuomo nor his publisher could have believed the extravagant advance reflected likely book sales. So the investment was either due to New York echo-chamber, celebrity incestuousness or anticipated quid pro quo influence peddling. And, in fact, Cuomo ended up receiving more than $110 per book sold, instead of the usual $2 to $3 per book under standard royalty arrangements. 

How did Cuomo find time to write a memoir in the midst of running New York, during one of the worst COVID-19 fatality records in the nation (2,791 COVID deaths per million in New York, versus 1,853 in Texas,  1,835 in Florida, , and 1,637 in California)? And why would Cuomo wish even to whitewash such an un-washable and disreputable record?

In other words, there was plenty of evidence to conclude that Cuomo was a mostly malignant figure who did a great deal of harm to the innocent and the vulnerable, through the abuse of his office, his serial cover-ups of miscreant behavior, and his cynical reliance on media exemption.

But why and how arose this fake Cuomo construct?

The media has had a long history of constructing faux heroes, based largely on progressive elites’ romantic visions of “tough” guys. They are usually defined by those who go after conservatives in crass or take-no-prisoners fashion. To the elite parlor Left, there is a giddiness that the intellectual, the sophisticated, the cultured, and the refined feel when they enlist shock troops to damage their supposedly uncouth enemies—thus descending (they think) to their opponents’ level. 

Indeed, after the pandemic hit, and Cuomo’s dismal record began to emerge, he immediately cast himself as the loudest of the anti-Trump office-holders. His press conferences were progressive delights. He harangued Trump and the supposed White House incompetents in bare-knuckle fashion, the good Queens-accented Herakles against the bad Queens-accented Hydra. 

The entertainer Cuomo interspersed bits and pieces of Italianese, played the street-wise ethnic, even as he daily contradicted what he had declared a few days earlier—but all with his trademark in-your-face braggadocio. 

It was the stuff of Los Angeles television entertainment. And the Hollywood nexus responded. 

In unprecedented fashion, amid the gush of Joe Biden’s victory in November 2020, it presented Cuomo with an Emmy, no less, as thanks for his daily performances, as if Cuomo had done his small part in ridding the nation of Trump. News anchors, liberal New York editors, and the Washington-New York political apparat all sought to trump each other in obsequious praise of Cuomo. 

Regret had even surfaced that, alas, Cuomo was not nominated as the Democratic anti-Trump candidate. Even more unfortunately, as a white male in these problematic times, he was ineligible to be Biden’s vice presidential running mate.

A common subtext was that Cuomo’s COVID-19 news conferences were the killer responses to Trump’s. No wonder, then, in the post-election glory of the latter’s defeat, Cuomo should be rewarded with an Emmy for crossing “cultural boundaries to touch our common humanity.” In truth, the only boundaries that Cuomo ever crossed were two: the COVID firewall between infectious hospitals and pristine long-term care facilities, and the proper boundaries protecting subordinate staffers’ private spaces.

This entire bullyboy construct was a media fantasy based on nothing other than Trump animus and a certain Cuomo flair for smart-alecky performance art. But it was in no way unusual for the Left. In fact, the media and its intellectual appendage love to construct such fantasy creatures who can out-tough supposedly tough-guy conservatives, but do so with far more style, panache, credentials, and deserved cultural and educational superiority.

Remember Robert Mueller and his dream team? 

Mueller, the tough G-man, drafted the supposed brawler Andrew Weissmann to take down Trump. In this sudden infatuation with the new woke FBI of hard noses like James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Kevin Clinesmith, and Jim Baker, Mueller would use his past anti-mafia, anti-racketeering expertise to assemble the best and brightest of the Ivy League and Obama teams to demolish the clownish Trump lawyers like Ty Cobb, John Dowd, Rudy Giuliani, and Jay Sekulow.

Forgotten was Mueller’s own checkered FBI record in prosecuting Boston mafia figures, along with his failures during the anthrax debacle, or really, any liberal dream-team failure to offer proof of principled excellence. For that matter, guys like Cobb, Dowd, Giuliani, and Sekulow were more experienced lawyers and would likely prove far more effective at fending off Mueller’s attacks.

No matter. The Mueller bully team collapsed and found no collusion with the Russians, despite a 22-month, nearly $40 million blank check.

Clinesmith was convicted of doctoring evidence. Incriminating FBI phones and data mysteriously disappeared. The paramours Peter Strzok and Lisa Page resigned in disgrace. The brief cable news career of Wiseman evaporated. And Mueller embarrassed himself with befuddled congressional testimony, in which he was either unaware of or lied about Fusion GPS and the Christopher Steele dossier—the seed and fertilizer of the entire Russian “blockbuster” collusion hoax and hence his own investigation. 

So went the Great Mueller Hope.

Do we remember the next savior bullyboy, the slick, street-wise, former racecar driver, take-no-prisoners and in-your-face Michael Avenatti? He appeared out of nowhere from Los Angeles ambulance chasing and class-action shakedown lawsuits to become porn-star Stormy Daniels’s personal barrister-savior. Soon that notoriety propelled Avenatti into the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing circus. 

There Avenatti was adopted by the Left as their tip-of-the-spear to finish off a wounded Kavanaugh, both professionally and personally. Avenatti reworked the already unverifiable and unhinged charges of Julia Swetnick, accusing a teenaged Kavanaugh of spiking drinks to facilitate his buddies’ alleged gang rapes of underaged girls—weird, nutty smears that even Swetnick walked back, blaming them on the go-ahead of the creepy Avenatti.

No matter. Soon Avenatti was making over a hundred televised appearances. He was praised as speaking female truth to male power, and hinted that he might give in to left-wing demands to run against Trump in 2020. His only qualifications apparently were that he could outgross Trump, but as the far better tailored, slicker, glibber, and more presentable brawler.

Then that construct too crumbled. The left-wing champion of female and underdog causes was soon fired by Stormy for financial improprieties. The feminist Avenatti was hit with a domestic abuse charge. And he was not above ripping off a disabled client. In the end, Avenatti proved to be yet another disappointing Great Left Bully Boy Hope, and so was Trotskyized by leftists as if he had never been their heartthrob. Soon he was convicted of felonious tax evasion, extortion, fraud, and embezzlement and now faces years of imprisonment. 

Finally, we remember another Great Leftwing Bullyboy Hope, Adam Schiff, the collusion inquisitor, the Javert of the Trump impeachments, and the cable news Sir Galahad.

Prior to 2017, the obscure Schiff was known mostly as the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee, where he got along well enough with its chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). In the latter days of the Obama Administration, both warned of Russian aggression, hacking, and potential interference  in U.S. elections.

Then came Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele, the Michael Flynn travesty, and the unmasking and leaking of names associated with the Trump campaign. Suddenly, the Left saw in Schiff previously underappreciated talents. He would say anything, but do so with softly-spoken, arrogant certainty. As another left-wing lawyer, his credentials were dream-team caliber, and all-star perfect. He was as vicious and wild in his charges as the earlier Avenatti, but with a Harvard Law degree and a more respectable Los Angeles power base. His dramatics and moth-to-the-flame fixation with cameras reflected an earlier desire to be a Hollywood script writer.

Just as the Trump lawyers were to be steamrolled by the Mueller Dreamers, the heroic Schiff would take down the bumpkin, dairy farmer, and Cal-Poly graduate Nunes. What followed over the next 22 months, was media stardom for Schiff and ginned-up pathological hatred of Nunes. 

When Nunes was blasted for issuing a majority finding that collusion was largely a hoax, Schiff was deified for countering with an inaccurate and now discredited minority report of Trump-Russian collusion. The media wrote Nunes off as a Tulare “dairy farmer” who was “in over his head” in his struggle with the supposedly better educated, smoother, and the more sophisticated Schiff. 

In the end, what happened to the Schiff construct?

He was reduced to identification with a disingenuous report under his name. He confessed to ordering the surveillance of some of his own committee members. And he became notorious for nonstop television appearances in which he misled the nation by winking and nodding that his own top-secret intelligence sources would prove Trump-Russian collusion—even as the chief public promulgators of such wild charges were in secret testimony, wilting under cross examination, and confessing to his committee that they had no proof of the very accusations they went public with. 

Schiff’s first impeachment hearing conduct was plagued by conflicts of interest with subpoenaed witnesses, dissimulation, and hyper-partisanship. For a while, the Left talked of higher statewide office for Schiff, until he too passed into just another useful but idiotic Trump hater of the moment. 

Again like Cuomo, Mueller, and Avenatti, Schiff’s transitory fame and adulation derived from his supposed legal-eagle reputation, his lack of ethical restraint, his hatred of Trump, and his willingness to say or do anything necessary to achieve the noble ends of ending the supposed national nightmare.

The refined and moral Left places itself on a pedestal, above the fray—and as such it has a natural attraction to those in its midst who do not.

Mueller and his team, the Avenattis, Schiffs, and Cuomos, along with their subordinate satellites like the New York Times’ useful Anonymous, the untethered Representative Eric Swalwell of Fang Fang fame, and the fuel for the first impeachment, the sanctimonious Colonel Alexander Vindman, are all inflated by the media with permission to say anything, anywhere, anytime, to anyone. They are for the moment canonized not for their impressive records or abilities but due to their images as no-holds-barred provocateurs and professional take-down artists, who would easily out-Trump Trump and thus exempt their supposedly intellectual and cultural betters from stooping so low.  

And when they are exposed, fail, or prove to be embarrassments, they are discarded and eventually forgotten—until the arrival of the next smart-talking, say-anything, dream-team, narcissistic Great Left Bullyboy Hope.


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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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