I admit it. I’ve been meeting with Andrew Cuomo every day for several days now. He’s not like I thought he was. It’s one of the best hours of my day.
I’m his age. I’m not some starry-eyed kid. It’s not easy to impress me.
I knew his dad, in fact. A sharp man, and a funny one. An intellect. A kind man, too. But he had a reputation for not suffering fools gladly.
I was a young reporter back then. I’d been warned about Governor Mario Cuomo by my producer.
“Don’t ask him stupid questions. He’ll eviscerate you if you do. But don’t be scared, either. Know your stuff, ask a good question, and he’ll treat you with respect.”
That’s how it worked. And (I’m sorry, Andy) until lately, I just didn’t see that the son had as much of the father in him as he does.
But this emergency, this unprecedented health crisis at a time when there is absolutely no leadership, no skill, and no honesty in the White House, has given Andrew Cuomo an opportunity to shine like he has never shone before.
“The control freak we need right now,” one publication gushed.
“Help, I think I’m in love with Andrew Cuomo,” another writer cried.
I get it. I’m crushing on him a little myself, though it’s in a far more dignified, “Well, how refreshing” kind of way.
I am grateful to have a very part time journalism job with a small local newspaper, which is a gift while real estate is temporarily at a standstill. And, because I’ve been doing news for a long time, I’ve taken on the job of watching the governor’s daily press briefings, done live and with an aplomb that would have made his father proud, and reporting on what’s said there.
He’s been everything I could hope for in a leader.
Andrew Cuomo is organized, he’s on top of things, he’s competent. He’s not afraid to admit what he doesn’t know, and he looks to his team to answer questions he’s not sure he knows the answers to. As he speaks, a stream of comments from viewers scrolls beside the internet feed.
“He just fact checked himself in real time!” one viewer wrote.
“I never liked him before, but if I woke up tomorrow and he was president I’d be fine with it,” another wrote.
I’m not so far gone that I’m going to suddenly elevate him to some ridiculous pedestal and start calling for him to be drafted for the Democratic nomination. Let’s not tumble into hero worship. I’m not sure that would be the right move.
But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is, without a doubt, the right man at the right time in a state that is under assault. He reminds us that New Yorkers are a tough people, a hardy people, and a resilient people. He has scolded us for spreading rumors. He has called out people who refuse to follow instructions that protect their neighbors from an illness that swept through New York City like the flood waters of Hurricane Irene.
He did a good job when the state got hit by two hurricanes in a row. He’s dealt with disasters before, both as governor and as secretary of HUD. But this time, when there is absolutely no one to trust in Washington, his calm, rational, human response is more comforting than I think he can possibly comprehend.
One publication said that with two words, Cuomo became the leader we all need right now. It was when he ordered the state to basically shut down. He said, “Blame me.”
Accepting responsibility for hard choices. That’s the mark of a leader. It was a reminder of what the best of government can be. And it’s New York’s governor who’s showing the nation how it’s done. I’ve never been prouder to be a New Yorker. He’s making a bad situation much, much easier to handle.
I hope he knows it. I hope he understands that, at long last, there are a lot of people in this state who appreciate him and are counting on him to get us through.
Andrew Cuomo ends each daily press conference with the same line. He stands up and he says, “I’ve got to get to work.”
You do that, Governor. And we’ll be here, thanking our lucky stars that you’re the guy who happened to be in that mansion in Albany at this particular time.
And if anyone’s looking for me tomorrow morning, I’ll be in front of my computer, waiting to hear what the gov’s got to tell us today.