These guys are taking social distancing to extremes.
New York is the national epicenter of the pandemic, and they both like to say that New Yorkers are tough and that we’re all in this together. If that’s true, why don’t Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo prove it by working together?
Their feud has been going on for so long that its origins are lost in the dustbins of history. It can provide amusing fodder on slow-news days and occasionally erupts into an exchange of harsh accusations.
But mostly it’s a cold war that has become the wallpaper of politics — nobody notices it anymore because it’s always there.
Now it’s a glaring and dangerous indulgence. Whatever started it, the feud is too small for such a big moment. They need to bury it pronto.
That is so obvious that it shouldn’t need to be said, so it is a black mark against both the governor and the mayor that they continue to let their petty personal grievances stand in the way of the unity needed during this emergency. As of noon Tuesday, the state reported some 75,000 New Yorkers have been infected by the virus and the death total stood at 1,550, about two-thirds of them in the five boroughs.
Many funeral homes are stretched to capacity and The Post reports that restrictions on burials because of infection concerns at cemeteries are putting some morgues “at the brink” of overflowing with corpses. Streets are empty, businesses are shuttered and, remarkably, there is a new field hospital in Central Park.
But the grim scenes and the certainty that the body count will climb and climb and climb has not made a dent in either man’s foolish pride. The mayor and governor still mostly shun each other despite the crisis, reportedly talk only through aides and generally don’t mention each other by name or title.
Instead, de Blasio usually refers to the “state” when he means the governor and Cuomo refers to the “city” when he means the mayor.
They also go to ridiculous lengths to avoid crossing paths. Even the arrival of Comfort, the enormous Navy hospital ship President Trump dispatched to New York, couldn’t break the ice. Separately, the two men, both Democrats, went to the West 50th Street pier to greet the life-saving vessel.
FEMA is another wall between them. Cuomo accuses the top federal disaster agency of being inept, including at his daily news conference Tuesday.
That came hours after de Blasio put out a statement hailing the same agency for agreeing to send 250 ambulances and 500 EMTs and paramedics to Gotham.
“Our partnership with FEMA will give our first responders the help they need to continue being the heroes of our city,” de Blasio said in a joint release with the feds.
Trump has swapped praise and criticism with both men, mostly at alternate times. Lately he’s been praising the mayor and criticizing the governor, which is a reversal of earlier days.
It would make a lot more sense for the three of them to work closely together to save the city and state they all love and are obligated to serve. Why, for example, should Trump, who has a country to worry about, have to spend time talking to the two of them separately?
Common sense says innocent New Yorkers are paying a penalty for the failure of City Hall and Albany to speak with one voice. Presumably they share the same goals and, with the scope of their to-do lists growing by the hour, cooperation instead of competition would undoubtedly yield benefits in efficiency and probably in lives saved and grief averted.
Put it this way: if our current humanitarian disaster can’t bring the mayor and the governor to set aside their differences and work together, what would?
Their approach stands in stark contrast to the aftermath of 9/11. Then Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Rudy Giuliani, no strangers themselves to feuding despite both being Republicans, overcame their long-standing differences to cooperate.
They certainly didn’t agree on everything, but at numerous public appearances together, each was gracious to the other and there was no obvious friction.
Soon after that, Cuomo, running for governor in 2002, blasted Pataki for taking a back seat to Giuliani, charging that the governor only “held the leader’s coat” after the terror attack. The furor contributed to Cuomo’s poor showing in the polls and, headed for certain defeat in the primary against State Comptroller Carl McCall, Cuomo dropped out and endorsed his rival. Pataki went on to win a third term.
When it comes to legal power, the governor holds sway over the city and Cuomo hasn’t hesitated to pull rank. He gave a back of the hand to de Blasio’s call for a “shelter in place” order, and was openly critical of the mayor’s failure to stop crowds from gathering in public parks.
Cuomo is also getting many rave reviews for his aggressive approach to the crisis, and I’m among those who believe he would be a better presidential candidate for his party than the tottering Joe Biden.
But Cuomo is also notorious for his sharp elbows, as he’s demonstrated frequently. Within a span of about five minutes at a recent briefing, he attacked both Republicans and fellow Dems.
Sen. Chuck Schumer got the brunt of the friendly fire for agreeing to a Medicaid reimbursement subsidy in the gigantic relief bill that Cuomo rejected as insufficient and counterproductive. Soon he was also faulting the Democratic-controlled Legislature for wanting to take the federal money and put off Cuomo’s own planned cuts.
Fights, fights, fights — they add to the urgency of Cuomo burying the hatchet with de Blasio. Even if it’s not the start of a beautiful relationship, it would be best for New York. Nothing else matters.
Royals’ do-good claims don’t ‘fly’
Reader Ruth Cohen, M.D., is appalled at the latest Megxit follies. She writes. “Meghan and Harry can best contribute to the world by becoming quiet. They take a private plane from Canada to the United States in violation of the guidelines to stay in place unless on urgent matters. They are charitable only in the interest of making as much money and gaining as much power as possible.”
Block that metaphor.
From The New York Times: “Joe Biden’s campaign and top donors are racing to reimagine the ways they raise money as worries grow that the coronavirus could choke off contributions.”
Left’s ‘air’strike against prez has little support
The bid to get broadcast and cable channels to stop showing Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings is a burning issue on the far left, but doesn’t seem to be catching fire with the general public. A moveon.org petition calling for silencing the president has gathered only about 155,000 signatures in four days.
The puny result reflects the wisdom and decency of most Americans.