In a sane world, Andrew Cuomo would be America’s least popular politician, a welcome target for a primary campaign or a robust Republican challenge in 2022. Yet the anti-Cuomo chorus has included precious few voices this year. The New York Post has been unrelenting in its criticism, as have conservatives in publications such as this one. ProPublica and the Associated Press rigorously reported out the nursing home debacle. But Cuomo’s performance has been largely been lauded by liberal New Yorkers and pundits in the mainstream media.
In July the New York governor was the ‘politician of the moment’, according to the New York Times. Throughout lockdown, viewers were comforted by his daily press conferences at noon, which cable news networks carried live nationally, where he displayed PowerPoint slides reminding everyone what day it was and showcased kooky posters. They liked his playful appearances on his brother Chris’s CNN show, which a Washington Post headline characterized as ‘the comedy routine America needs right now.’ In August a Canadian poll made Cuomo the favorite to be the Democratic candidate for president in 2024. ‘The poll was shocking to me, frankly,’ Cuomo said in response. ‘I think it’s reflective of the actions that New Yorkers took…and possibly my rapier wit and stunning sense of humor.’ Basta.
But in the last few days, more New Yorkers have enrolled in Cuomosexual Conversion Therapy. Their two major sticking points? Vaccines and schools.
There was widespread optimism when Pfizer-BionTECH and Moderna announced success rates of over 90 percent for their COVID-19 vaccines. For the first time in months it seemed as though there was hope for America. Enter Andy-Vaxxer Cuomo, using his platform as governor to undermine public trust in the FDA’s potential authorization of vaccine which we will all need to take. ‘We can’t let this vaccination plan go forward the way that Trump and his administration is designing it,’ he said last week, with all the scientific expertise of an Instagram wellness blogger. ‘I’m pushing hard to make sure that we have a process in place to check what the FDA says before people start getting the vaccine in New York.’
People were happy to put up with Cuomo’s pettiness when he was moving his daughter’s boyfriend to the Canadian border, or deploying the State Liquor Authority to target bars that mocked his dumb food rule by serving ‘Cuomo pizza’. But the prospect that his tussling with Trump might delay the climax of the COVID carnage has given many pause for thought.
The governor compounded his misstep with another display of logger-headed machismo posturing this week, clashing with Mayor Bill de Blasio over school closures. The mayor, after dithering for days, introduced an arbitrary 3 percent positivity rate to re-close NYC’s public schools. The governor contradicted this, saying at a Wednesday press conference that schools could remain open as the positivity rate was only 2.5 percent. A Wall Street Journal reporter expressed confusion on behalf of parents — and Cuomo, acting as hard as a pierced nipple in winter, snapped:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) mocks and argues with a reporter during a testy exchange about school openings. pic.twitter.com/POwVxX4NTl
— The Recount (@therecount) November 18, 2020
Close followers of Cuomo lore will notice that the governor traditionally reserves this kind of pomp and arrogance for New York Post reporters who bring up nursing homes. But it seems like he picked on the wrong Murdoch hack this time. ‘Great to see the governor belittling a reporter asking an honest question about whether NYC public schools will be open tomorrow,’ wrote NY1 producer Bob Hardt. ‘Cuomo is taking an incredibly combative tone with Jimmy Vielkind and Jesse McKinley for reasons I do not understand,’ tweeted USA Today reporter Jon Campbell. The left-leaning New York Daily News‘s editorial board lamented the governor’s ‘excruciating and needlessly confusing’ response.
‘Cuomo has skated along so far without any major blowback, despite the terrible decisions he’s made during the pandemic and his self-congratulatory book tour,’ Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean told The Spectator. She would know: her husband’s parents died of COVID in New York’s nursing homes earlier this year.
‘I hope people are finally seeing this side of him and will continue to ask the hard questions, even if it means they stir up the angry, defensive bully that’s always been there,’ Dean said. ‘It’s just taken some time to find a stage to finally show the world the type of leader he really is.’
Again, Cuomo’s homo-erotic macho-man act had been widely ignored up until this week, even though he and de Blasio had been bickering and contradicting each other throughout the whole COVID crisis. Some people even got kicks when he told Howard Stern he’d punch Trump if he wasn’t governor. At last the ego has landed.
Viewed from above, Cuomo has overseen one of the most disastrous COVID responses in the country. First, he locked the state down and enforced social distancing a week later than California, allowing the virus to spread and potentially doubling the death toll. Then he signed an order forcing nursing homes to take in COVID-positive patients, which put the group most vulnerable to the virus in its immediate proximity. Over 6,500 died in the state’s care homes. New York State quietly removed the order from their website, and Cuomo now says the nursing home scandal ‘never happened‘. The national COVID death toll has just passed a quarter of a million. New York accounts for an eight of that: 33,600 dead. His rules for reopening small businesses were logic-defying, as was his state travel advisory. And when the governor wasn’t killing your grandma or your local bar, he was penning a self-congratulatory book about how well he’d done this year.
‘I think Gov. Cuomo has always had this side of him and reporters are afraid to get under his skin,’ says Dean. ‘It’s like the boss you have to always tip-toe around and constantly stroke their ego in order to get along with them.’
If you live in New York City, everyone you pay tax to will fail you: your mayor, your governor and your president. You could reasonably make the case that Cuomo’s repeated mistakes are due to Trump’s dereliction of duty and refusal to coordinate a nationwide COVID response. The governor would never say this himself, of course: he’d have to swallow his pride, and he lacks the stomach for that.