Cuomo is a mini-Trump – it’s always been obvious to anyone paying attention


Andrew Cuomo was treated like the second coming just because he was slightly less incompetent than Trump. PHOTO/Mary Altaffer/AP

Cuomo and Trump have the same appetites for authoritarianism, disdain for their detractors and egos that stand in the way of effective governing

Andrew Cuomo’s killer cockiness

Bad news for all the self-proclaimed “Cuomosexuals” out there! Turns out your corona-crush isn’t quite the hero you once thought he was. Almost a year into the pandemic it seems that Cuomo-mania has finally subsided and the governor of New York’s pandemic response is getting some much overdue, and less than flattering, scrutiny.

Andrew Cuomo was practically deified by liberals in the early days of the pandemic because, let’s face it, anyone looked amazing compared to the train-wreck that was “try-injecting-bleach” Donald Trump. While Trump was in a state of dithering and denial, Cuomo took charge and was reassuringly direct: people across the US tuned into his daily press briefings. There was speculation Cuomo could be the next president.

Of course, being good on camera doesn’t mean you’re doing a good job on the ground. In recent weeks there have been calls for Cuomo to resign over allegations his administration tried to hide the scope of coronavirus-related nursing home deaths in New York. Two weeks ago, New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, released a report stating nursing home deaths were 50% higher than originally claimed. On Friday damning new allegations of a cover-up emerged. The New York Post reported it had obtained a recording of one of Cuomo’s top aides admitting the administration withheld data on nursing home deaths because it was worried the Department of Justice would investigate state misconduct.

It has always been obvious to anyone paying attention that Cuomo is a mini-Trump. He has the same appetite for authoritarianism as the former president: during the pandemic he has drawn scrutiny for cancelling special elections, issuing executive orders and consolidating power. Like Trump he has nothing but disdain for his detractors, particularly if they happen to be more qualified than he is. The New York Times recently reported that nine top New York health officials have resigned during the pandemic, with many of them telling the Times that Cuomo had asked them to match their health guidance to his decisions. But who needs experts, eh? Not the all-knowing Cuomo. “When I say ‘experts’ in air quotes, it sounds like I’m saying I don’t really trust the experts,” Cuomo said of pandemic policies in a recent news conference. “Because I don’t.”

Like Trump, Cuomo also has an enormous ego that has repeatedly stood in the way of effective governance. Instead of coordinating with Bill de Blasio, New York’s mayor, during the early days of the pandemic, Cuomo tried to one-up him. “The mayor and the governor were in a constant pissing contest. The people in the middle get urinated on,” Gustavo Rivera, a New York state senator later said.

On 17 March, for example, De Blasio announced that New York may need a “shelter-in-place” order; a few hours later Cuomo announced he had no intention of quarantining the city. The state would have to approve it, he said, and he wasn’t going to. It was an assertion of his authority, which he underscored it by barring local officials from issuing their own executive orders to fight the coronavirus without approval from his health department. Cuomo’s ego arguably caused a deadly delay: according to an analysis by Columbia University, if New York had decided to lock down on 8 March (instead of 20 March), the New York metropolitan area would have had at least 209,987 fewer cases and 17,514 fewer deaths.

It might have taken even longer for New York to go into lockdown had a woman not stepped in to fix things. On 19 March Letitia James organised a call with community leaders, elected officials and business representatives to garner support for a lockdown. Working behind the scenes, James tried to figure out how they could get Cuomo to initiate a shutdown without making it seem like he was following De Blasio. A story as old as time isn’t it? A woman in the background managing a man’s ego and finding a way to make him look good. Her intervention undoubtedly saved lives but, unlike Cuomo, she hasn’t felt the need to demand applause for her actions.

The Guardian for more

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