Andrew Cuomo, who found time in the midst of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic to write a book entitled “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” made it clear at a 90-minute press conference on Friday that the buck stops with him — when it comes to caring too much.
Before getting around to an exhaustive and exhausting hour of explaining how he had always been right about everything and decrying those who say otherwise as crazies and liars and political hacks who just want to get on TV and don’t care if they hurt the good people of his state in the process, New York’s governor set the stage by painting a picture of New York City in one of his PowerPoint slides:
“Murders up 47%… 92% of victims Black or Hispanic… 70% of shootings unsolved… Homeless: danger to themselves or others… NYCHA is an ongoing tragedy… Affordable housing crisis… People are leaving New York City.”
So there was the governor demeaning the biggest city in his state as at once a hellscape and a ghost town in a nasty twist on the Yogiism about how nobody goes there anymore, it’s too popular.
Of course, Cuomo was doing that as a way to lash out at Mayor de Blasio and local pols starting with Assemblyman Ron Kim for calling out the governor’s private threats as he’d been publicly pressed to finally account for his decision to withhold the numbers about nursing home patients killed by the virus after his decision to initially order nursing homes to take back in previously hospitalized residents.
Minutes after describing New York City as a ghostscape, Cuomo said his one regret was that he hadn’t been aggressive enough in fighting “misinformation” that, he said, had been intended to hurt him and that he was strong enough to take but that was hurting the families of New York.
That’s Cuomo logic: constantly explaining how he was right when he’d said one thing and also right when he said another thing and also right when he said that he’d always said the same thing.
He’s not always wrong, but he’s always exhausting, always trying to have the last word and always trying to assert his dominance.
Eventually, Cuomo held himself to account. “We were busy. We were doing our job. We’re trying to save lives, no excuses. I was not aggressive enough in knocking down the falsities,” he said. “I dismissed it as partisan politics, which is at a fever pitch nowadays, but I should have been more aggressive in calling it out because it wasn’t hurting me. It hurt the families who had questions about loved ones. And that was a mistake. And I make no excuses.”
No excuses for doing our job!
As to why he kept the nursing home numbers from Democratic lawmakers even after last month’s devastating report from Democratic Attorney General Letitia James effectively exposed them, Cuomo twice said that “I had a lot going on.”
That included his book boasting about how well New York had done with keeping nursing home residents safe, using numbers he knew were artificially low since his administration had collected the real ones that Trump’s Justice Department had eventually asked for as part of what Cuomo says was a fishing expedition to try and punish Democrats.
But New York’s Democratic lawmakers never really wanted those numbers they’d been requesting long before the DOJ, Cuomo said Friday, since “they implicitly agreed to the delay” when they didn’t send a subpoena to get them. As it happened, he said this right after Kim had been on “The View” objecting to Cuomo’s threats and just as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was issuing a statement calling for an investigation.
Now that Trump isn’t trying to use the nursing home numbers in an unfair way, Cuomo said, he’d love to get them over to Democratic lawmakers, but he just needs to check first to make sure the Department of Justice would be okay with that — which is notably the same excuse de Blasio hid behind for years to explain why the officer who killed Eric Garner kept drawing an NYPD paycheck.
I don’t know how many more people would be alive if Cuomo and his team had taken a different approach to returning nursing home residents in the midst of a high-stakes and fast-moving circumstance. I do know that Cuomo keeps digging himself in deeper as he tries to jawbone his way out.
Cuomo, who’s nobody’s fool, must know that, but he can’t stop without having that last word. Just after again calling Democratic lawmakers opportunistic hacks hurting New Yorkers, the governor concluded: “We have a lot of work to do, and I want to take the tone down and we have to do a budget. We have to do vaccinations. We have a lot of important work to do together. And that’s what we should be focused on.”
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