New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo deserves all the criticism he's receiving, even from within his own Democratic Party, for having sharply undercounted the numbers of people who were infected and died from the coronavirus in New York nursing homes. Apparently, the high numbers didn't make his coronavirus response look so good, so his administration reported the deaths in ways that shifted attention to hospitals rather than the nursing homes themselves.
The maneuver wound up making it look as though nursing home patients died at half the number than the 15,000 that actually occurred. A Cuomo decision to send some coronavirus patients back to nursing homes before they were fully recovered might have been behind many new infections.
Back when President Donald Trump was fudging statistics to put a rosy patina on his coronavirus response or blaming others to hide mistakes, this newspaper lambasted him. Whether they're Republicans or Democrats, if they screw up, they must be held accountable
"I take responsibility for all of it, period," Cuomo told reporters. He acknowledged having created a "void" by not sharing public information. That's a sharp contrast from Trump and Parson, who would sooner declare themselves progressive Democrats than admit to an error.
But Cuomo's humility ends there. Under increasing pressure, he has shifted to combative defiance. Last week, he threatened to "call out" members of the news media if he caught them reporting what he termed "lies" about his actions, as if to suggest that it's the news media, not Cuomo, distorting the facts. That sounds troublingly familiar.
Even longtime loyalists among his appointees, staffers and fellow Democrats are turning against him, citing his bullying tactics. He has publicly feuded with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. A Queens Democratic Assemblyman, Ron Kim, accused Cuomo of threatening to "destroy" him after Kim spoke out about the governor's handling of the nursing home death numbers. "He has abused his powers, and abusers are cowards," Kim stated on ABC's "The View."
It's become all-too typical when politicians reach this level of power to begin displaying signs of anger, hubris, brash temperament and impatience — usually far from the public eye. Trump was famous for his behind-the-scenes outbursts, as was the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Parson has shown increasing signs of irritability as his own coronavirus-response and vaccine-distribution record comes under heightened criticism.
No one should expect politicians to be perfect. Everyone should expect mistakes to be made. Successful politicians find that the public is far more willing to forgive and forget if the leader is open about failures and apologizes for screw-ups. Whether Republican or Democrat, thin-skinned, vain politicians don't come off to the public as leaders. Rather, as Kim says, they come off as abusers and cowards.
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