Underachieving and overcompensated, the perennial story:
As the coronavirus subsided in New York last year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had begun pitching a book proposal that would center on his image as a hero of the pandemic. But by early last summer, both his book and image had hit a critical juncture.
Mr. Cuomo leaned on his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, for assistance. She attended video meetings with publishers, and helped him edit early drafts of the book. But there was also another, more pressing edit underway at the same time.
An impending Health Department report threatened to disclose a far higher number of nursing home deaths related to the coronavirus than the Cuomo administration had previously made public. Ms. DeRosa and other top aides expressed concern about the higher death toll, and, after their intervention, the number — which had appeared in the second sentence of the report — was removed from the final version.
The revisions occurred as the governor was on the brink of a huge payoff: a book deal that ended with a high offer of more than $4 million, according to people with knowledge of the book’s bidding process.
A New York Times examination of the development of Mr. Cuomo’s lucrative book deal revealed how it overlapped with the move by his most senior aides to reshape a report about nursing home deaths in a way that insulated the governor from criticism and burnished his image.
Mr. Cuomo also utilized the resources of his office — from his inner circle to far more junior personnel — to help with the manuscript. In late June and early July, for example, a top aide to the governor, Stephanie Benton, twice asked assistants to print portions of the draft of the book, and deliver them to Mr. Cuomo at the Executive Mansion in Albany, where he lives.
It’s a nice racket.
Once you have been accepted into the elite, it is considered perfectly normal for various elite institutions to just give you vast sums of money for doing almost nothing, for the rest of your life. And the idea that outsiders might find these arrangements shocking, corrupt or simply sleazy is totally baffling to the people in charge of elite institutions. They don’t get it, at all. Of course David Petraeus deserves $150,000 for a few hours’ work. $150,000 is practically nothing and anyway he’ll grant the school so much prestige! You want to him go begging in a hair shirt for the rest of his life or something?
Why shouldn’t former New York Times editor Bill Keller now find himself with an opinion column, despite having no opinions? Why wouldn’t Robert Rubin have some made-up position at a “boutique investment bank”? Of course Petraeus himself also has a job with a massive private-equity firm for some reason in addition to a second lucrative “teaching” gig at USC. With his experience as an Army general who ran the CIA for a few minutes, it only makes sense that he’d be so much in demand at universities and private-equity firms, because he has shown himself to be very adept at doing the things that those organizations do, I guess. Petraeus definitely showed some fine management skills when he oversaw a network of secret torture centers run by the Iraqi security forces he was in charge of organizing. And Dan Quayle also apparently has some sort of private equity job so how fucking hard can it be.
Short of going to jail — or perhaps losing a lot of money, like Jon Corzine — a Great Man in corporate/government/finance America cannot possibly lose. There will always be consulting gigs, advisory positions and hefty speaking fees, handed to them in much the same way that the most successful Hollywood celebrities for some reason never actually pay for clothes.