The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

The Icons of the Left Collapse

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appears wearing a face mask at the unveiling for the Mother Cabrini statue in Manhattan, N.Y., October 12, 2020. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

On the menu today: You would have to look far and wide to find a person more celebrated by progressives and most of the national media in 2020 than Andrew Cuomo. You would have to look far and wide to find a political group more celebrated by progressives and like-minded media in 2020 than the Lincoln Project. And you would have to look far and wide to find a place more celebrated by progressives and like-minded media in 2020 than California. And in the last 24 hours, all three fell from their high pedestals and landed with a hard “thud.”

New York State Admits Cover-up of Virus Deaths among Nursing-Home Residents

If you have been reading National Review for the past year, you have known that Andrew Cuomo was an egomaniacal, blustering, bullying charlatan who made catastrophic errors in judgment but whose reputation was protected by CNN’s prime-time programming and national media who desperately needed a heroic Democratic figure to contrast against President Trump. Over the past eleven months, you read about various details of the contrast between the grand illusion of Cuomo and reality from David Harsanyi, Pradheep Shanker, Kyle Smith, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Mairead McArdle, Zach Evans, Tobias Hoonhout, Brittany Bernstein, The Editors, a bunch of others I’m forgetting, and, ahem, me, multiple times. I would argue no other national publication did more to showcase how New York State’s government kept failing its citizens, with deadly consequences, during this pandemic.

And now we get the cherry on top, as the New York Post reports that the state government deliberately hid the figures on the number of nursing-home residents killed by the coronavirus, because they didn’t want the U.S. Department of Justice investigating them:

Governor Cuomo’s top aide privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the state’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19 — telling them “we froze” out of fear the true numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors, The Post has learned.

The stunning admission of a cover-up was made by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa during a video conference call with state Democratic leaders in which she said the Cuomo administration had rebuffed a legislative request for the tally in August because “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football,” according to an audio recording of the two-hour-plus meeting.

“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”

In addition to attacking Cuomo’s fellow Democratic governors, DeRosa said, Trump “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.”

“And basically, we froze,” she told the lawmakers on the call.

“Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.”

DeRosa added: “That played a very large role into this.”

Here’s a crazy thought: Offer accurate and updated numbers to everyone and accept the consequences. There is no “but our political foes will make a big stink about this” exception to public-disclosure laws, particularly over something as important as public-health data.

The Post reported that the state legislators on the call were not impressed with this explanation.

You may recall that last month, the state Department of Health had said 8,711 New Yorkers died in nursing homes, but after Attorney General Letitia James issued a report that estimated the deaths of nursing-home residents in hospitals should be much higher, the state revised their figures to 12,743 — and now it’s up to 13,297; 15,049 when assisted-living/adult-care facilities are factored in.

New York State ranks second in the country in total deaths, fourth in total cases, and second in deaths per million. So far, one out of every 426 New Yorkers who was alive in 2019 has died of the coronavirus. (In the state of Florida, where governor Ron DeSantis is often cited as an example of bad pandemic management, the death toll is one out of every 757 Floridians — and keep in mind, Florida has a lot more seniors than New York State.)

Andrew Cuomo should resign, but he will not. A decent state legislature that stood for accountability would remove Cuomo from office, make an example of him, and roll the dice with lieutenant governor Kathy Hochel.

Others at the Lincoln Project Knew about John Weaver’s Predatory Behavior

Anyone with the Lincoln Project who knew about John Weaver’s predatory behavior, and who averted their eyes and remained silent to ensure the money kept coming in, should never work in politics again.

Last night, Miranda Green of New York magazine unveiled a deep, thorough investigation:

On June 17, a person working at the Lincoln Project sent an email to co-founder [Ron] Steslow that reported ten allegations of Weaver’s harassing men, including at least one employee at the Lincoln Project; three people independently described the contents of the email to Intelligencer and said it warned Weaver could be using his position at the company to make promises of career advancement to prey on young men. The complaint called Weaver’s predatory behavior an immediate threat to the company that, if it became public, could render a death blow to the Lincoln Project’s reputation. As the complaint noted, the Lincoln Project itself was attacking Trump as a sexual predator. Steslow raised the email with his fellow co-founder Galen and corporate counsel Matthew Sanderson, the AP reported. Yet Weaver’s harassment continued. (Weaver did not respond to requests for comment.)

. . . [Steve] Schmidt told Intelligencer: “There is no human being, no person involved with the Lincoln Project who made any type of allegation of any type of inappropriate communication that would have triggered an HR investigation or the hiring of an outside counsel to conduct such an investigation,” he said. “There were zero allegations, complaints, media interrogatories directed to the Lincoln Project with any specificity, at any time about, any misconduct, towards any person.”

It certainly looks as if Steve Schmidt is lying in that full-spectrum, no-wiggle-room denial. The article continues:

Former employees faulted the Lincoln Project for continuing to hire the interns recommended by Weaver after receiving a warning he would dangle job opportunities to potential victims. “It’s just enraging to know that they were enabling and they perpetuated this kind of behavior. And didn’t take action until it just came out,” said one former employee. “There was knowledge of Weaver and his history, and yet there were people directly brought on who were recommended by him, so I still don’t know what to say why that was the case.”

Back during the campaign, it did not take the world’s greatest detective to recognize that Steve Schmidt would say anything if it helped his cause, regardless of the truth. Among his more bonkers claims were his contention that Jonah Goldberg, Noah Rothman, and Matt Lewis were insufficiently opposed to Trump and that the fly on Mike Pence’s head was a sign that he’s the devil.

The world of American politics has a lot of shamelessly dishonest and cynical hacks. What makes the likes of Schmidt and his colleagues stand out is that they are shamelessly dishonest and cynical hacks who somehow managed to convince a whole lot of progressive donors that they were the honest and idealistic ones.

The Golden State Isn’t Supposed to Look Like Tupac’s ‘California Love’ Video

Ezra Klein is not the first New York Times columnist to recognize and lament that California is not living up to the dreams of its progressive voters or lawmakers. Similar arguments have been made by Jill Cowan, Miriam Pawel, and Farhad Manjoo, more than once.

But the subhead on Klein’s column puts it starkly: “If progressivism can’t work there, why should the country believe it can work anywhere else?” The Golden State has either a non-functioning or minimally functioning Republican Party that holds no statewide elected offices, just nine of 40 state senate seats, and just 19 of 80 state house seats. Among the state’s largest cities, only Fresno, Bakersfield, and Anaheim have Republican mayors. Progressive Democrats have no one else to blame.

And Klein cannot ignore that the results suck. The wealthy opt-out of underperforming and currently closed public schools. The state has the highest poverty rate in the nation, once you adjust for cost of living, as well as the highest income inequality. Klein tries to pin the problem on hypocrisy and the “operational conservatism” of some self-described progressive voters:

“If you’re living eight or 10 people to a home, it’s hard to protect yourself from the virus,” Senator Wiener told me. “Yet what we see at times is people with a Bernie Sanders sign and a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign in their window, but they’re opposing an affordable housing project or an apartment complex down the street.”

If California progressives see their ideology as a fashion to wear instead of a philosophy and set of principles to live by . . . what does that say about progressivism?

Kevin Williamson rakes Klein over the coals:

Unless Klein intends to argue for some kind of benign dictatorship, he must eventually understand that the troubles he identifies in California are baked into the progressive cake. Create a political power that limits property rights, and that power will be used in the interests of politically powerful people at the expense of less-powerful people as long as there are democratic processes that give them the opportunity. It doesn’t matter how well-intentioned the program is. It doesn’t matter what a regulation was meant to do — it matters what it does.

I would just add one point. I’d rather live in a state with two competitive, functional, and rational political parties than a one-party state where my preferred party of Republicans overwhelmingly have all the power. Because in a one-party state, the ruling party gets lazy and corrupt. Sometimes this happens slowly, sometimes this happens quickly. But eventually a “we can do whatever we want, because a big majority will vote for us anyway” mentality takes hold.

A functioning opposition party keeps the ruling party honest, because it means there are consequences for screw-ups, scandals, and getting caught with a hand in the cookie jar. You know what kind of elected official works hard, focuses on constituent service, and keeps his nose clean, literally and figuratively? A guy who won his last race with 51 percent.

What’s the theme that ties together Andrew Cuomo, the Lincoln Project, and California’s governing class? Since 2015 or so, a whole bunch of people who hated Donald Trump — and I am among those who believe the former president earned his animosity and scorn — chose to believe that anyone who stood in opposition to Trump had to be one of the good guys. A huge swath of the media world, elites across American society, and donors large and small, conflated political agreement in opposition to Trump with all other positive virtues. Outspoken opposition to Trump turned into an all-purpose badge of righteousness that many believed would outweigh or outshine any other issues or character flaws.

When a society adopts this kind of mentality, bad people recognize this. They pick up on the fact that certain views or opinions or labels can be used as moral get-out-of-jail-free cards. Why do you think so many self-identified feminist men keep turning out to be creeps when alone with a woman? Why do you think some billionaires describe themselves as socialist? Why do you think self-professed environmentalists keep taking private jets to climate-change conferences? Society has taught them that their viewpoint outweighs their actual behavior, actions, and in some cases, and how they treat other people.

You made this bed, progressives. We tried to hold these guys accountable, but you wouldn’t listen to us. The only way we get better results is if you guys hold your own guys accountable.

ADDENDUM: You must read Ryan Mills’s piece on California parents describing the effects of a nearly year-long school closure upon their children. Sadly, it’s not just California. Hopefully, America’s kids are staying in contact with their friends as the school closures drag on long past any reasonable point. But online learning means kids remain separated from everyone they don’t deliberately reach out to — every non-close-friend classmate, the kids they with play at recess, every adult in the school who isn’t their teacher — everyone they use to socializing with in the course of a school day. And even if a child’s emotional and psychological reaction to this forced isolation doesn’t result in an emergency-room visit, it’s a brutal toll, and one that is, at this point, entirely unnecessary.

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