I never was a huge Andrew Cuomo fan. I was pulling for Cynthia Nixon in the NY Democratic primary a few years ago.
But I’ve been watching both Cuomo and Trump pretty much every weekday lately. Their respective daily appearances seem timed based on my elliptical workout schedule.
The contrast couldn’t be starker. Think what I may of Cuomo’s politics, the man exudes competence. And dedication. Surrounds himself with experts? Check. A quick study? Check. Hopes for the best while preparing for the worst? Check. Appropriately prioritizes challenges? Check. Considers all possibilities? Check. Thinks outside the box but doesn’t spin his wheels? Check. Communicates calmly? Check. Reassures the public through his clarity of thinking and consistently workmanlike approach? Check.
When I watch him, I think: “It won’t be pretty, but we just may avoid complete disaster.”
Until of course I see Trump.
A year or so ago, I read The Fifth Risk, by Michael Lewis. It’s the part of government we ignore, Lewis explains, that keeps us safe and which Trump has so woefully neglected. In her NY Times review of The Fifth Risk, Jennifer Szalai puts it thusly:
“Many of the problems our government grapples with aren’t particularly ideological,” Lewis writes, by way of moseying into what his book is about. He identifies these problems as the “enduring technical” variety, like stopping a virus or taking a census. Lewis is a supple and seductive storyteller, so you’ll be turning the pages as he recounts the (often surprising) experiences of amiable civil servants and enumerating risks one through four (an attack by North Korea, war with Iran, etc.) before you learn that the scary-sounding “fifth risk” of the title is — brace yourself — “project management.”
It’s that part of government — project management — that Trump has failed to staff or staffed with non-experts based on their loyalty to him, or placed agencies under the control of individuals dedicated to destroying them.
How ironic it is that Szalai in her review used “stopping a virus” as an example. Well, maybe not that ironic. Szalai wrote her review in October 2018, only five months after Trump disbanded the pandemic response unit at the National Security Council. Maybe she noticed.
Lewis and others warned us something like this was going to happen. All it was going to take was a crisis. For 3+ years we were incredibly lucky. Yes, there were a couple botched responses to natural disasters, but there was no 9/11 type event, no major financial collapse, and no major domestic upheavals.
Until there was.
Now here we are, facing the most severe threat I’ve seen in my 63 years. With a blithering incompetent at the helm.
If you don’t see that watching Trump, you will when you watch Cuomo. Just try applying that checklist of Cuomo’s attributes above to Trump:
Surrounds himself with experts? No, surrounds himself with sycophants. A quick study? No, doesn’t study at all. Hopes for the best while preparing for the worst? No, hopes for miracles; reacts, but does not prepare. Appropriately prioritizes challenges? No, passes the challenges on to others. Considers all possibilities? No, runs everything through a political lens. Thinks outside the box but doesn’t spin his wheels? No, spins his wheels furiously. Communicates calmly? No, gets agitated when questioned. Reassures the public through his clarity of thinking and consistently workmanlike approach? No, completely scattered in his thoughts and erratic in his approach.
If only Andrew Cuomo were president.
Update: Looks like I overlooked something on Cuomo. This doesn’t entirely negate the competence he’s displayed in handling the crisis, but it is a huge black mark and goes to why I never was a big fan of his: IF CORONAVIRUS DEATHS START PILING UP IN RIKERS ISLAND JAILS, WE’LL KNOW WHO TO BLAME.