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STORY BY JOHN F. HARRIS

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Published on March 20, 2021 2:37 AM

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo greets people after speaking at a vaccination site at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on March 8, 2021 in New York City. | Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images
Politicians have devoted their professional lives to the art of public persuasion. Reputation is everything. Success hinges on getting as many people as possible to view their ideas and their life stories as sympathetically as possible.

Sounds simple enough. But here is a puzzle: Why are so many people in the business of being likable actually so unlikable?

Not unlikable merely in the awkward, eye-rolling, prefer-not-to-spend-much-time-with-that-clod sense. Unlikable in the toxic, misanthropic, something-must-be-wrong-with-him sense. In other words: in the Andrew Cuomo sense. Or at least, it is now clear, the way many subordinates and fellow politicians experienced Cuomo on many occasions.

The unlikability of many politicians and people who labor for them is an enduring phenomenon. No need to pick on Cuomo, except that he's spent decades asking for it and is in the news right now.

His case is part of a convergence of recent events this week that puts an old subject in a vivid new light.

Here's an obvious truth: Cuomo, battling allegations from women employees of sexual harassment and widespread reports of an abusive office culture in ways that go beyond sex, has not bothered much over the years cultivating friends and allies who are ready to stand with him even when times are tough. To the contrary, many politicians from both parties are calling for his resignation, and an even greater number are plainly enjoying his precipitous fall from the lionized status he enjoyed a year ago, during the opening days of the pandemic.