The Rise and Fall of Andrew Cuomo

In ancient Greece, they warned that excessive pride and arrogance will without fail lead to punishment. In ancient Rome, slaves rode behind conquerors whispering in their ears “memento mori” -- you are mortal -- meaning that both fame and you die.  You need not go that far back in time to see the truth of these warnings. Just consider the rise and fall of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In this case we can see why he rose to such fame. Why he’s being attacked right now has several explanations. As I detail, I think it’s because others with the same greed for power and fame in his own ranks are vying for the same unearned glory he once held.

Bring out Your Dying

As many as 15,000 virus deaths have now been attributed to Cuomo’s March 25, 2020 policy of forcing the admission of patients who had tested positive for the China virus into nursing homes which held the most vulnerable to the virus. The policy made no sense except as a payoff to the Greater NY Hospital Association, a major donor, (nearly $1 million in support of his 2018 election) which found the COVID patients unprofitable and wanted to make room for more lucrative patients. 

Tracing the donations shows that GNYHA affiliates gave over $900K directly to Cuomo’s campaign. In total, Cuomo and the NYS democratic party committee (which he controlled) received close to $2.3m from various hospitals and nursing home donors.

He paid the donors off in another way, too. Legislation which he signed  on April 2, 2020 shielded the hospital and nursing home executives from any lawsuits respecting the China virus outbreak in their institutions. The directive deliberately ignored former President Trump’s provision of a hospital ship which made it to New York in record time and other quickly arranged alternative sites for treatment. It was designed to help the donors and the Democrats fashion and enforce the notion that Trump didn’t help New York, but that Cuomo was the man for the job. (No one makes much of it now, but besides accommodating the desires of a major donor, the deaths of so many of the elderly and disabled with substantial medical needs surely reduced the state’s welfare burden.)

Anthony Fauci, also a media darling at the time, held up Cuomo’s New York as a model for treating coronavirus months after the evidence was clear that he was “the Butcher of Albany.”  Recently, as the governor has fallen considerably in public favor, Fauci asserts he cannot comment on it as it “probably could either be correct or taken out of context.” More likely he cannot comment because it would be just further evidence that he is ill-informed and but a feather wafting this way and that in the media’s  hot air.

Not only did the policy Cuomo forced result in a great many unnecessary deaths, as well, his administration went to  great efforts to cover up the consequence of his negligence and perfidy. They deliberately undercounted the deaths. At the same time  he was endangering the elderly and infirm, last July he shamelessly  touted his own success, even seeking a state ethics ruling allowing him to earn outside income from a book prematurely crowing about his great achievement. He later published the book, American Crisis. Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemicwhich is the path Democrats seeking higher office now tread.)

His latest defense is that the coverup -- undercounted that deaths caused by the policy -- was undertaken out of concern that the “Trump administration might pursue a politically motivated inquiry into the state’s handling of the outbreak in nursing homes.” But this defense seems unconvincing, the timing more likely shows it was to advance sales of his book portraying him as a great leader.

It is impossible to understate the once fawning media coverage of Governor Cuomo. Media Research Center has compiled a video montage in case you missed or forgot it: 

The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman has more:

The extent to which the "Butcher of Albany" was slavishly deified in the media cannot be overstated. The thirst, as the saying goes, was real. As it turned out, avoiding negative press coverage was rather easy, given the circumstances. In the eyes of professional journalists and other psychopaths incapable of merely liking a politician, Cuomo was a certified PILF. They gave him a variety of sexually charged nicknames -- the "Luv Guv," among others -- that ring differently in light of the sexual harassment allegations.

The most significant difference between then and now? Donald Trump is no longer president. Cuomomania never would have happened otherwise. Molly Jong-Fast, author of the Vogue piece "Why We Are Crushing on Andrew Cuomo Right Now," recently admitted as much. For what it's worth, she was also a fan of #Resistance porn lawyer Michael Avenatti and an unpaid adviser to the Lincoln Project. Being the "bad boy" who opposes Trump can be a lucrative career path, so long as you avoid committing felonies. (Easier said than done, apparently.)

The early reviews of American Crisis weren't very interested in what the heroic author had to say about his own leadership during the pandemic. Instead, they fixated on Cuomo's criticism of Trump. Few even questioned his decision to write the book -- a de facto declaration of victory over a pandemic that wasn't over. Even Trump waited until after the election to start selling those commemorative coins.

Freeman is right that a great deal of the adoration of Cuomo, even in the face of his incompetence and a known history of thuggishness, was because he was in the eyes of the press (and doubtless, the partisan Fauci) the anti-Trump. The white knight they chose to ride with, ignoring Trump’s heroic moves to ameliorate the crisis in New York and the rest of the country. Now that Trump is out of office they can finally peek under the veils. But the question is who’s behind this and why?

The Issue is Never the Issue

Cuomo’s been charged with making brutish unsolicited advances to three women now. This is the press focus, not the far more serious incompetence and obviously corrupt payoffs to donors at the expense of thousands of lives.

After all  there is adult perspective and the ability to deal with unwanted sexual advances is something possesed by every woman born and raised before “I am woman watch me roar” and #MeToo arrived in the flotsam of the present cultural tides. People in his own ranks are clearly trying to shoot him down, and the media which exalted him and covered for him, are now trying  to cover and deflect attention from other Democratic governors who did much to the same thing to the nursing-home patients in their states, failures which diminish the competent and nurturing leadership claims of their party.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) issued an order that a long-term care facility “must not prohibit admission or readmission of a resident based on COVID-19 [coronavirus] testing requirements or results.” The policy was renewed three times before being rescinded in July 2020.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D-CA) administration ordered on April 10, 2020, that “patients hospitalized, or receiving treatment at an alternate care site, with COVID-19 can be discharged to a [skilled nursing facility] when clinically indicated.”

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) approved a directive from state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli that said no patient could be denied admission or readmission to a nursing home “solely based on a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.” A patient may not be discharged until diagnostic test results have confirmed whether he or she should be discharged. However, nursing homes cannot require a discharged patient to undergo a coronavirus test as a prerequisite for admission to the nursing home as long as doctors conclude the patient is “medically stable.”

Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) enacted a mandatory admission policy in March, saying “nursing care facilities must continue to accept new admissions and receive readmissions for current residents who have been discharged from the hospital who are stable.”

And then there’s the usual jockeying for power by cutting down a likely opponent. The report of Cuomo’s coverup  was made by his own hand-picked state attorney general, Letitia James. She clearly wants to run against him for the governorship. When she was under consideration for the attorney general slot in October 2018, Kamala Harris endorsed her. When Kamala Harris  was being considered by then-senator Joe Biden for his vice-presidential running mate, James endorsed Harris.

James initially linked the nursing home death rates to low staffing and for-profit ownership but indicates that was because she had no access to the data covered up by Cuomo, data only  uncovered after a ruling this February in a lawsuit brought by Empire Center. With new data she indicated the connection to low staffing and private ownership of nursing homes was not the reason for the excessive deaths caused by Cuomo’s outrageous policy directive. (It seems to me that before issuing her initial report she had a means of more effective research through subpoena had she chosen to, but then, of course, it would have riled the very man who hand-picked her for that slot.)

Maybe I’ve been spending too much time watching Chinese serials about the Qing Dynasty, but I see a pattern there. All these overblown #MeToo scandals seem me to have a common denominator, women being used as pawns to bring down opponents to gain favors and power.

How far has Cuomo fallen? New York legislators have now stripped him of his emergency pandemic powers.  Fancy footwork, as they knew or should have known of the scandal for a long time before the #MeToo business knocked him off the media pedestal. Will he resign? Don’t bet on it.