Cuomo passes the buck again: "Trump is to blame for the virus coming to New York"

He phoned in to CNN today to respond to a new CDC study that confirmed that the virus was circulating in New York even before Trump issued his European travel ban on March 13. He’s made that point before as an excuse for his myriad failures in managing New York’s epidemic. Can’t blame me for all those people dying in nursing homes, he’s said. Blame Trump for not banning travel from hot spots abroad before foreigners could seed the epidemic in NYC.

“No,” Cuomo shot back. “Tapper’s point, as you just heard from the CDC report, Tapper should say that Trump is to blame for the virus coming to New York because that’s the fact. That’s what the CDC just said. If Trump’s government had done its job, the virus wouldn’t have come here.”

“Governors don’t do global pandemics,” Cuomo continued. “I was trying to explain that to Mr. Tapper. State governments don’t do global public health. That’s not in the state charter. The federal government does that. The virus didn’t come here because of anything New Yorkers did, the virus came here because the federal government missed it.”

I’m not going to rewrite this post from late June, which addressed that point at length. But I want to stress again how farcical it is that this guy, of all people, would take to lecturing others for having moved too slowly to limit the spread. Long investigative pieces have been written about his own catastrophic dithering in shutting down New York. Not only was he slow by the standards of Gavin Newsom in California, he was slow by the standards of Bill de Blasio. Here’s Pro Publica on where things stood on March 17, when a long, frustrating campaign by de Blasio’s health officials to try to convince the mayor that time was of the essence in locking things down finally paid off:

He’d been publicly savaged for days for not closing the city’s school system, and even his own Health Department was in revolt at his inaction. And so, having at last been convinced every hour of delay was a potentially deadly misstep, de Blasio said it was time to consider a shelter-in-place order. Under it, he said, it might be that only emergency workers such as police officers and health care providers would be allowed free movement.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, however, reacted to de Blasio’s idea for closing down New York City with derision. It was dangerous, he said, and served only to scare people. Language mattered, Cuomo said, and “shelter-in-place” sounded like it was a response to a nuclear apocalypse…

On March 19, Cuomo announced what he called “the ultimate step.” He issued an executive order requiring “that all nonessential businesses statewide must close in-office personnel functions.” Cuomo said he was temporarily banning “all nonessential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.”

It would be another two days before the order went into effect.

Cuomo took action on March 10 to contain an outbreak in New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City, leading epidemiologists to scratch their heads and wonder what would make him think that the disease wasn’t already spreading aggressively in NYC if it had reached New Rochelle. “In April, two prominent experts said in a New York Times opinion article that their research showed that had New York imposed its extreme social distancing measures a week or two earlier, the death toll might have been cut by half or more,” Pro Publica noted. Between that and Cuomo’s infamous nursing-home policy, having him at the helm in New York instead of someone else may have cost the state literally tens of thousands of lives.

The point to all that isn’t that Trump is blameless for waiting until mid-March to ban travel from Europe, after the virus had already begun to bite. The point is that there’s no reason to believe President Cuomo would have acted sooner. If anything, in light of his track record, he might have waited longer. If he was so opposed in late February and early March to having the feds allow travel from Europe, why didn’t he order foreign visitors quarantined for 14 days upon arrival? Why didn’t he take his complaints to the public and attack Trump day and night on TV until he relented and issued a travel ban if he was so concerned?

People are onto this guy. That’s why he’s so defensive. Watch the two clips below from two very different networks to see how the myth of Cuomo the virus-slayer is playing these days. It occurs to me that the cult of personality around him isn’t completely dissimilar from the cult of personality around Fauci that I wrote about earlier. Fauci has soared in popularity among anti-Trumpers because he’s been made, inadvertently, into a foil for Trump. Cuomo’s pulled the same trick but his foil role is intentional. He grasped, and continues to grasp, that the more he presents himself as a contrast to the president, the more Trump-haters will look past his many faults and embrace him as some sort of model of epidemic leadership by comparison. It’s deeply cynical. But it works.

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