Friday, March 5, 2021

The Downfall of Andrew Cuomo

A friend of mine is upset about Governor Cuomo's fall under the weight of multiple scandals. His daily COVID update broadcasts brought her reliable information and helped instill a straight-spined "we-can-get-through-this-together" perspective.

It makes me recall Mayor Giuliani in 2001. Many New Yorkers were already well aware of what a terrifying wing nut the guy was, but he certainly rose to the occasion after the attacks, keeping us informed with sane, clear, unifying messaging. I never understood why this would make him a hero, or imagined him endlessly banging his 9/11 performance like a fading borscht belt comic desperately pushing his catchphrase. He just did what mayors are elected to do. That's their job.

Giuliani came off great due to a catastrophic gap at the top. Our president at the time was a vacuous fake tough guy ("all hat and no cattle") who went on TV, much much too late, with terrified pupils and wobbly larynx to throw down rich boy pugnaciousness. As I watched acrid smoke rise above Manhattan from my bedroom window, "We're a-gonna get 'em, just you wait and see," wasn't the message I needed to hear. At least Giuliani led, and was competent. He won the day via forfeiture.

During COVID, we were afflicted with another vacuous fake tough guy president (all spray tan and no sense) throwing down rich boy pugnaciousness ("We're gonna lick the virus easy, just you wait and see") when what we needed was sober competence. Thank goodness Cuomo did his job, filling the gap. But while it's admirable to be the only competent voice amid a vacuum, please, let's never sink so far that we equate competence with heroism.

I had a clear picture of Andrew Cuomo in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Gas was completely unavailable, plus many of us were without power. Finally, Cuomo sent a tanker to the Brooklyn waterfront, offering free gas to all comers. Gosh, thanks Governor Cuomo! But as any twelve year old could have predicted, traffic tied up for miles, gunshots were fired at line-cutters, and hundreds if not thousands of cars ran out of fuel awaiting their fill-up. Shmuck.

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