Andrew Cuomo, meet Ricky Nelson

         The teen heartthrob singer Ricky Nelson first rocketed to stardom in 1957 with “A Teenager’s Romance,” his earnest plea for adults’ understanding of the emotional needs of lovesick adolescents. (To hear it again, click here.)

Nelson died in a plane crash in 1985, which was a tragedy not only for him and his fans but also for today’s rapidly growing contingent of misunderstood lovesick male governors, all suffering public mockery for their clumsy efforts to fulfill their emotional needs.

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned this month after 11 different women accused him of groping their breasts and buttocks, forcibly kissing them, and making insinuating remarks about their looks and their sex lives. Another New York governor, Eliot Spitzer, resigned in 2008 after a federal investigation found he had patronized a prostitution ring run by an escort service. Governor Eric Greitens of Missouri resigned in 2018 over revelations of an extra-marital affair as well as charges that he attempted to blackmail his mistress into silence with a compromising semi-nude photo (he denied the blackmail but not the affair). Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina disappeared from his state for nearly a week in 2009, telling his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was actually visiting his Argentine mistress in Buenos Aires. Bill Clinton, while governor of Arkansas, conducted an affair with the singer-model-actress Gennifer Flowers.  Arnold Schwarzenegger, as governor of California, acknowledged multiple instances of both sexual harassment and infidelity.

In Ricky Nelson’s absence, will no one make the case for American governors who, under the pressure of their jobs, let their hearts and their sex organs overrule their heads?

Let me take a crack at it. The following lyrics should be sung to the tune of— what else?— “A Teenager’s Romance.”

A Governor’s Romance

A governor’s romance is full of sad scenes.
A governor’s romance is just like a teen’s.
Your heart can be broken— It’s very intense.
The only real difference is the public expense!
They think we’re not human; they won’t let us date.
We’ve got to stay faithful to one boring mate.
But if you say you love me, we can still have affairs.
We’ll just have to have them in old Buenos Aires.

Contrarian’s Notebook

About this page:

 I am by nature a contrarian. My 60 years in journalism have taught me that conventional wisdom is usually wrong. In a constantly changing world, each of us needs to be prodded periodically to re-examine our long-held assumptions. 

To me it seems obvious that no society can long flourish when contrarians are treated as heretics. Yet the instinct to silence “bad” speech now threatens even the most respected journalistic institutions. This year the editor of the New Yorker abandoned his plan to interview the right-wing ideologue Steve Bannon after a Twitter mob and some members of his own staff objected. Public pressure forced the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer to resign over a headline deemed insensitive to the Black Lives Matter movement, even after he issued a cringing public apology. The editorial page editor of the New York Times was similarly forced to resign for publishing an op-ed essay by a conservative U.S. Senator. The editor of the New York Review of Books was forced to resign after an outcry over his publishing a first-person defense by an alleged sex abuser.

This page will seek to reverse this urge to muzzle. Ideally, it will provide a safe space where men and women, liberals and conservatives, old and young, Blacks and whites, Jews and gentiles— you get the idea— can exchange views frankly without fear of getting their heads chopped off. 

As the moderator, I’m here to provoke, listen, learn, and grow, rather than promote an agenda. You are welcome to join this conversation, with one caveat: In this space, the words “Shut up!” are forbidden.