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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council announcement, 2011. (Photo: Zack Seward, Flickr)

'Political Reptilian Brains': Cuomo Blasts Democrats and the Left

"I'm like you, I'm like you! I'm going to get a tattoo and an earring and I'm growing a beard and I'm going to protest, I'm like you!"

Eoin Higgins

In a far-ranging interview Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo criticized fellow Democrats and what he called an anti-business mentality in his state that he believes was part of a political miscalculation which cost the state an Amazon facility in New York City. 

Cuomo's remarks came during a 33-minute interview with Alan Chartock, chief executive officer of NPR affiliate WAMC.

Throughout the conversation, Cuomo repeatedly decried what he defined as a "political reptilian brain" on the part of politicians to act based purely on "fight or flight" instincts and placed much of the blame for his current problems with his party on said response.

The governor leveled particular criticism at some of his fellow New York Democrats—including, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Jimmy Vielkind, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Democratic state Sen. Mike Gianaris, the state Senate Majority Leader. All three opposed the Amazon headquarters project in Queens, which ended when the company pulled out citing an unfavorable political environment.

It's the reptilian response: Amazon's coming, 'ooooh, they're a big corporation, we're against corporations, let's go out' grab a sign.'

Local politicians get scared because the activists and the socialists are going to be against it, now all the little local politicians run, and they pick up a sign and they put on a t-shirt.

'I'm like you, I'm like you! I'm going to get a tattoo and an earring and I'm growing a beard and I'm going to protest, I'm like you!'

Politician, small 'p.'

Van Bramer fired back on Twitter, calling the governor's words unhelpful.

Chartock asked Cuomo if he meant, by reptilian, that the politicians were snakes, but the governor demurred. 

Earlier in the interview, the governor fired on House Democrats in Washington, accusing the caucus of allowing an opportunity to condemn anti-Semitism to slip away because of a resistance to being criticized. 

"You've had, on the Democratic side, voices of anti-Semitism," Cuomo said, apparently referring to comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) critical of Israeli foreign policy and the power the country's lobbying arm has in Congress. "I think some people were reluctant to stand up and condemn it."

Those comments came in for criticism from Waleed Shahid, the communications director for Justice Democrats.

Cuomo stopped short of blaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the outcome, instead pointing to the left wing of the Democratic Party.

"You have these polar extremes, and the best thing to do is duck," said Cuomo. "There's too much ducking going on."

Cuomo also waxed philosophical on the 2020 primary, saying that the contest was driven by popularity instead of substance. 

"This is a new type of presidential [campaign]," Cuomo said. "This is one of the legacies of Trump. You don't really—anybody can run for president. It's a celebrity contest. It's a talent show. It's one of those reality shows."

"You don't have to know how to manage anything," added Cuomo. "You don't have to know how to work with the legislative body."

Cuomo also said he believed Beto O'Rourke, the former Texas congressman who announced a bid for the White House last Thursday, was a tall man—but conceded that might be because O'Rourke is so often standing on tables.


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