American Disaster evaluation: Andrew Cuomo on Covid, Trump … and a job with Joe Biden? | US information
THEOn Thursday, the US reported 65,000 new cases of Covid-19, and Donald Trump falsely told a TV town hall that 85% of people who wear masks will get the disease. With more than two weeks to go and a record 17 million Americans already voting, the rhythms and tropes of the past seven months will only pick up between now and November 3rd.
At the start of the pandemic, Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings proved a must on television and as a counterprogram to the campaign’s commercials disguised as the president’s press conferences. The governor of New York was frank and reassuring, even as the number of bodies increased.
Covid-related deaths in the Empire State now top 25,000, the highest in the United States. New York was both a frontline and a laboratory experiment. What happened there pointed to a national tragedy. Red states weren’t immune. At the moment the plague is raging in the heartland.
Cuomo’s new book, subtitled Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic, is his quest to shape perceptions of his own accomplishment amid the pandemic as he points a damn finger at Trump and Bill de Blasio, New York’s sadly inept mayor. Like the governor, American Crisis is informative and direct – but not exciting.
I believe this was akin to the greatest failure to uncover an enemy attack since Pearl Harbor
The book reads like a campaign autobiography, except that Cuomo says he will never run for president. It has its share of heroes, villains, and family vignettes. Cuomo’s three daughters appear everywhere.
Like the governor, the American crisis is programmatic, neither poetic nor poignant. In a final chapter, entitled “A Blueprint for the Future,” the governor offers 28 pages of policy proposals.
Covid has killed nearly 220,000 Americans. The United States suffered 58,000 combat deaths in Vietnam and 116,000 in World War I. Only the Second World War, the Civil War and the 1918-1919 flu pandemic resulted in major casualties.
Unsurprisingly, Cuomo saves his toughest words for the Trump administration: “New York has been invaded by Covid. I believe this was akin to the greatest failure to uncover an enemy attack since Pearl Harbor. “
In this regard, Cuomo compares Trump to FDR and of course finds it flawed. The government issued early warning of members of the financial community and Republican donors. With that in mind, Cuomo’s setting is almost bland.
Cuomo’s relationship with the president was already strained. In addition to Trump and the Republicans in Congress capping state and local tax deductions, the governor admits he is fighting with the government over “immigration, environmental, as you call it.” He adds, “I found his pandering on the far right alternately insincere and repulsive.”
American Crisis also passes on a conversation with the president in which the governor urged the former resident of Queens, a borough of New York City, to invoke the Defense Production Act and allow private industry to manufacture tests and personal protective equipment instruct. Trump refused, claiming that such a move would smell like “big government” – as opposed to handing dictations to Big Tech, instructing companies to relocate, unilaterally impose import duties and offer private briefings to those favored by the administration.
Time has passed. In the 1980s, Governor Mario Cuomo and his son Andrew were sort of Trump allies. At the time, Trump kept Andrew Cuomo’s law firm on commercial leases on Manhattan’s West Side. According to Trump, they represented “us in a very important transaction”. No longer.
The president is not the only member of the administration who has been criticized. Mark Meadows, the youngest White House chief of staff, receives a huge amount of Cuomo’s wrath. In Cuomo’s report, Meadows conditioned New York to deliver test results for hydroxychloroquine, Trump’s one-time Covid treatment of choice.
Cuomo said the state will provide the test data as soon as it becomes available, not beforehand. Meadows informed him that the federal government was ready to move hospital funds to states, but “strongly” implied that New York would “not receive funds” if test results did not come soon. To Cuomo it stank of blackmail.
The USNS Comfort medical ship travels up the Hudson River past the Statue of Liberty when it arrives in New York City in March. Photo: Bryan R. Smith / AFP / Getty Images
In the end, the “test results came and they were negative”. Cuomo adds, “In June the FDA itself would conclude that hydroxychloroquine has no beneficial effects and is indeed dangerous.”
The American crisis contains kind words for Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. “He was attentive and delivered,” said Cuomo. “Jared was the person who eventually made the PPE, fans, and military personnel for New Yorkers, and I’m grateful on their behalf.”
The governor is well aware of the dangers the city faces. He points to the wealthy who have fled to the Hamptons, Hudson Valley, and Florida and notes that they may not return. He also admits that “wealthy New Yorkers” are the core of the “city’s tax base.” Without them, profitability and long-term survival would be open questions. Unlike the confused mayor of the city, the governor gets it.
Cuomo has been criticized for his order to send elderly Covid patients to nursing homes rather than hospitals, which may have contributed to New York’s high death toll. Although he pushes back, such claims do not go away.
It can’t be important. Outside of the state’s restless ultra-Orthodox Jewish districts, Cuomo is still popular: an astonishing 73% of New Yorkers rate his handling of the coronavirus positively, more than three out of five give him good marks for his work performance, and a similar number view is favorable.
A potential attorney general appointment is on the cards in a Biden Harris administration. It is through this lens that American Crisis is best viewed as an application.