Cuomo pitched himself as the anti-Trump. But they’re basically the same.

Cuomo is a Democrat, but this is essentially the Republican playbook now: Tell the public you’re doing one thing while doing the opposite privately, assuming that voters don’t actually pay close enough attention to notice the discrepancy. If you want to see this action, take a look at all of the Republicans who voted against the $1.9 trillion stimulus package taking credit for helping Americans on Twitter, like Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who celebrated aid for restaurants even though he voted against the legislation.

The Trump administration practiced this in an extreme way, making up metrics out of whole cloth (such as Trump’s false claim that “85 percent of the people wearing masks catch the virus” to explain why he wouldn’t push mask-wearing) and insisting that things accomplished despite them (vaccine development, any upward movements in the Dow, the passage of any legislation that people like but Trump didn’t support) were their own doing. To be fair, politics has always been partly about managing optics and credit-mongering, and people do expect that as a class, politicians sometimes lie. But an administration-wide culture that consists mostly or entirely of these things and fails to competently execute the duties of government is a nihilistic politics of performance with no underlying values. It’s an abdication of government, not a formulation of it.

Trump and Cuomo both also required enablers: people who look the other way, especially when the doctored optics also benefit them.

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