For over 100 days during the coronavirus pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held press briefings every day at which he told New Yorkers, and the world, the straight facts about the violent advance of the coronavirus through the population of New York State.
He gave daily updates on the shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks, anticipated shortages of ventilators, hospital beds and ICU beds, and the testing and contract tracing that would be necessary to deal with the advance of Covid-19 within the state.
He also explained to New Yorkers why steps needed to be taken, and the status of the efforts New York was making to meet the challenges it faced. Updated every day. Most importantly, he made New Yorkers partners in the battle against Covid-19, with great empathy.
For me, and I’m sure for millions, including national officials, governors, and mayors throughout the world, Gov. Cuomo was a reassuring model of what good and strong government leadership could be. For example, he anticipated shortages of hospital beds, and took vigorous action to ensure that more hospital beds were created.
While he, like other governors, can be faulted for a slow early response to the pandemic, Gov. Cuomo more than redeemed himself through his extraordinary leadership of New York through the worst of the crisis.
It was immensely reassuring, every day, to hear the voice of reason and to observe the actions of good governance by the state of New York, when the federal government was led by incompetent clowns who not only failed to assume the mantle of federal leadership, but actually acted to ignore or undercut the advice and guidance of the top epidemiological and medical experts in the government.
It was immensely reassuring to see, every day, that strong leadership in the person of Gov. Cuomo, who led a well-organized and effective team, existed and was operating, despite the willful incompetence of President Donald Trump and his administration. (Maureen Dowd has nailed Trump’s quintessential characteristic, in the New York Times: “willful maliciousness”).
To cite but one example of this monstrous failure of leadership by Trump and his officials, in four months the United States has not been able to produce enough N-95 masks so that there is an ample supply not only for medical personnel and first-responders, but also for every person in the country.
I was crushed to learn of Joe Biden’s precipitous announcement that he would choose a woman to be his vice-presidential candidate, because I thought there could be no better candidate than Andrew Cuomo. He could immediately be given responsibility for managing the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, once the new team assumed office. And he would make a superb president in 2024, if he could balance the ticket and his team with individuals with deep foreign policy experience.
But upon reflection, I thought further, “Why would Andrew Cuomo want to be Biden’s VP candidate?” He is doing a great job as Governor of New York, where he is uniquely qualified and needed to serve now.
So, I’ve put my hopes on hold, thinking he should run for president in 2024. Every day I watched his press briefings, and I watched every day, I wondered why America couldn’t have a president as good as he is.
Of course, there are many able leaders who could lead this country. If only they could get elected!
Unfortunately, we are only at the beginning of of the coronavirus pandemic and the Covid-19 catastrophe.
With President Trump, buffoonery and Unreason are the order of the day. We are not through this crisis yet, as the recent spikes in cases caused by the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions too soon demonstrate. Places like Houston are almost out of hospital beds, with no Gov. Cuomo leading efforts to create additional capacity.
We are not out of the woods yet.
While it is wholly understandable that Gov. Cuomo may not want to resume his daily press briefings, given the other burdens of his office, we need him to come back and do his press briefings, if not every day then at least two or three times a week.
Amid the madness and violent medical storm that rages around us, we need to hear the reassuring voice of reason, and of empathy, and of competence, and of a leader who can inspire us to believe that we can get through this. We can, if we all work together, following reason and science, and ignoring the voices of charlatans who seek to mislead us for their own personal and political purposes.
Come back, Gov. Cuomo. The world needs you.
The Trenchant Observer