Much has been wanting about Trump’s response to the outbreak. But de Blasio’s fulminations against Trump are clearly meant to divert from his own failures of leadership. De Blasio equivocated on obvious measures like closing schools. He could not even bring himself to close the city’s playgrounds. When these were finally shuttered, it was by decree of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. De Blasio went along with the plan reluctantly—“I respect that,” he said of the decision—like a child being dragged to the dentist by his determined dad. On WYNC on Friday, he said researchers had only discovered “in the last 48 hours” that asymptomatic people can spread the disease. If Trump made the same preposterous claim, there would be howling calls for impeachment, renewed questions about his state of mind. Public-health professionals have known for months how the coronavirus spreads and who can do the spreading. If de Blasio didn’t know, the fault is fully his own.
Abandoned by both Trump and de Blasio, New Yorkers have turned to an unlikely savior in Cuomo, who until this new coronavirus came along had proved a confounding member of the Democratic establishment. That is partly a function of lineage: He is a Cuomo, yes, but he is not his father, Mario, whose speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention was so eloquent an articulation of liberalism that it has not been rivaled in more than three decades. Andrew Cuomo has never quite explained what kind of liberal he is, other than the kind who wants power.