Sibling rivalry can only help Andrew Cuomo
Chartock: People are talking a lot about CNN star broadcaster Chris Cuomo and his brother, the governor.
People are talking a lot about the Cuomo brothers, two big strapping guys. I really have no idea what CNN star broadcaster Chris Cuomo thinks of his brother, the governor. Andrew, the oldest son, playfully referred to his junior brother when he gave a eulogy at his father’s funeral. Jokes are a funny thing or, as Freud is said to have intoned, “There is no joke.” We know that siblings are often competitive and occasionally jealous of one another. During that same eulogy, Andrew made one of the major mistakes of his career. He referred to the now indicted Joe Percoco as “the third brother” that Mario loved best. Good time to remember what Freud said about jokes.
Anyone who watched the run up to Hurricane Irma got to see a very buff Chris Cuomo outside in shorts and a tee shirt. He was the talk of social media. There must be times when Andrew is just a little jealous of Christopher, especially when Andrew is under attack. There was Chris, undefeated by the gale force winds and leaning palm trees, talking to Republicans and Democrats and ending each interview with heartfelt thanks for what the interviewee was doing in the time if crisis. For his part, Governor Andrew dispatched New York crisis teams to help out but considering all the news, Governor Cuomo’s actions barely got a mention in the print and electronic media.
As we all know, both love and rivalry can exist between siblings. Nothing unusual there. Sometimes those rivalries can be tricky things. One brother or sister may carry strong feelings about the other for the rest of their lives while the sibling to whom the animus is directed has no such feelings. Sometimes it’s about money or inheritances. Sometimes it’s the stuff best reserved for a shrink’s office, as in the Smothers Brothers’ oft heard complaint, “Mom always liked you best.” Inevitably things get very complicated.
Many times people hold one brother responsible for what the other did just because they look or speak alike or share a last name. We know that isn’t fair to either brother. Hey, I’m an identical twin and I know that both of us have come up against that nonsensical stuff. My brother once reported to me that someone who hired him as a consultant in New York state told him that he couldn’t work at that place anymore as long as his last name was “Chartock.” I still haven’t gotten over the unfairness of that one.
In the case of the Cuomos, you have to admit that the two brothers do have a lot in common. They resemble one another in some ways and their voices certainly share some similarity so people may be tempted to do what is unfair. Chris reportedly makes more than $2 million a year, a lot more than a governor. Not only that, every time he takes on a Republican heavy hitter, particularly from the Trump administration or its environs, there will be people who unfairly (I think) accuse him of carrying Andrew’s water. On the other hand, his last name is Cuomo. That same name has undoubtedly helped Andrew achieve his high status in New York state politics, particularly in New York City, where he remains popular enough to overcome any resistance to a third term.
My guess is that Chris’ presence on TV, particularly his star performance during Hurricane Irma, can only help Andrew in his political career. It’s all fascinating. You really don’t see this kind of thing all that often. As tough things happen to either brother in their careers there will be those who unfairly hurl unfounded accusations. I expect some tough decisions will be have to be made by Christopher, particularly if his brother ends up running for president or after the political trial of the century, in which Andrew’s friends go on trial.
Sunday Freeman columnist Alan Chartock is a professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at alan@ wamc.org.