Have we reached peak Cuomo? I think that the climacteric came when the media was aflutter with rumors that the governor of New York wore nipple rings. Alas, it turned out to be only a rumor, or so we have been assured.
There are two questions that continue to bedevil Cuomo watchers. The first is whether his handling of the Wuhan Flu is the absolute worst of any governor or only among the worst.
The second question is how, given how appalling his leadership has been, he has managed to float along with such high approval ratings (some say 80 percent).
As to the first, we have a veritable litany of failure, much of it deadly. Cuomo began by downplaying the seriousness of the virus and boasting that New York, being ‘fully coordinated’ and ‘fully mobilized’, was going to handle it much better than many places. That was on March 2. Fast forward two months and New York leads the country in coronavirus deaths, accounting for a third or more of the nationwide total. At some point the governor began to panic, shouting that New York would need 140,000 beds (it needed 18,500 at the peak) and 30,000 ventilators. Soon I expect to see them littering antique stores repurposed as planters.
What made Cuomo’s handling of the situation so bad? Critics point to a host of policies. Waiting until just a couple of weeks ago to pay serious attention to cleaning the subway system was one failure. But the real doozy was forcing nursing homes to take patients infected with the virus. What part of the population is by far the most vulnerable to the virus? The elderly. Who occupies nursing homes? The elderly. Cuomo might as well have sent in a SWAT squad and ordered it to start firing. Not only did he require nursing homes to take infected patients, he made it against the law even to ask if new patients were infected. Thousands died.
Sunday, Cuomo finally admitted, sort of, his mistake, but the damage had been done.
What about the second question? How is it that Cuomo has not only survived but thrived politically? Is he getting help from China? I ask because not only has he praised China’s brutal handling of the disease, he has also taken to referring to it as a ‘European virus‘.
Memo to the governor: Wuhan is not in Europe.
The wretched Atlantic magazine recently described Georgia’s decision to start reopening the state as an experiment in ‘human sacrifice’. That is the current meme of the left. ‘Reopening the country is dangerous!’, they say. But in fact, all the states that have begun to reopen have so far fared better than New York, which really is the epicenter of the disease.
There are many reasons for this, from the density of the city to the filthy conditions of the subways to a large nursing home population. But one huge factor, imperfectly assimilated by the public, is the stupefying mishandling of the response to the disease by Andrew Cuomo.
Still, the governor’s approval ratings continue to soar. How is this possible? As Stephen L. Miller noted in these pages a few days back, ‘there is something deeply unsettling about the way Cuomo’s handling of the epidemic has been lionized by the national media, and treated as a reality show by his brother’s network; especially when it’s viewed in tandem with attempts to delegitimize governors in other states who have competently faced down similar challenges.’
Miller hints that the media sycophancy, and, hence, the high poll ratings are in anticipation of a last-minute Cuomo run for the presidency. Perhaps that is so. It would be no surprise if the Democrats, nervous about being stuck with an increasingly senile apparatchik who was handsy to boot, suddenly decided to cashier Joe and put their money behind a popular governor with nationwide name recognition. We’ll see as the summer progresses. There is also H.L. Mencken’s observation that ‘nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people’ to contend with. Moreover, even if the governor does not have nipple piercings, influential people thought he might. Celebrity operates by its own devices, independent of such pedestrian considerations as the truth.