Politicians are well known for lying just about constantly. In some cases, however, things can be even worse when they tell the truth.
Recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a live virtual address to the National Governors Association during which he discussed things like his state’s response to COVID-19. Of course, as everyone familiar with the data knows, Cuomo had easily the worst response of any governor in the nation, even going so far as to attempt to doctor and hide COVID nursing home death statistics to make himself look better.
Naturally, that didn’t stop Cuomo from talking himself up. The way he did that, though, managed to simultaneously be incredibly tone-deaf and perhaps even too honest.
“Very few people were going through what we went through, and we went through it together,” Cuomo said at one point in his address. “And speaking for myself, it was a tremendous personal benefit.”
Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste
It has become a well-known, if cynical, political adage that one should never let a crisis go to waste. If a politician does encounter some sort of crisis, it’s generally considered bad form to openly admit that he had used that crisis for his benefit. That doesn’t make the fact any less true, of course, but it is extremely rare to hear it stated directly.
That’s what makes Cuomo’s admission so amazing.
In his case, when New York was struck by COVID-19, the personal benefits truly were manifold. First, he rose to national fame. The media began puffing him up as “America’s governor” and hanging onto his every word during his press briefings. Cuomo eventually even won an Emmy for those briefings.
Second, Cuomo received a $5.1 million advance from publisher Crown Publishing to write his pandemic memoir called “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The book was a vapid puff piece in which Cuomo praised himself and didn’t say a word about his egregious failures. Its sales figures were also dismally low — a mere $46,000 — despite constant promotion by the media, but Cuomo made bank.
Cuomo is now embroiled in a series of sexual harassment scandals and refuses to step down despite repeated calls that he do so.
Even if much of the political capital that he had earned has been eaten up, Cuomo is more or less right about COVID’s overall consequences for him.