April 21, 2021

Not a Clue

By Stephen Tuttle | Feb. 27, 2021

Surely politicians wouldn't be so clueless that they'd lie about COVID-19 deaths or take a vacation during a statewide emergency or spend taxpayer money on expensive groceries and booze for themselves. Of course they would. 

Let us pause, then, for a moment to consider the braindead behavior of Andrew Cuomo, Ted Cruz, and Michelle Lujam Grisham, the three best current examples of actions absent thought.

We'll start with Grisham, the Democratic governor of New Mexico. As is the case with most state budgets, New Mexico includes a reasonably small discretionary fund for the governor that is supposed to be used for state-related events or meetings. Grisham stretched the purpose considerably.

She spent about $13,500 on personal items like Wagyu beef (it can cost as much as $200/pound), tuna steaks, dry cleaning, and tequila, vodka, gin, beer, and wine. Her initial defense was the purchases were made for dinners with her staff. Then she acknowledged she might have made a mistake she now regrets. Yes, contrition often follows exposure, especially when the defense or denial doesn't work.

Ted Cruz, the Republican junior senator from Texas, got caught fleeing his state in the midst of its power outage disaster. You might have read about it. 

Most of Texas, about 90 percent, is not connected to our national power grids; it has its own grid coupled with a nearly deregulated power-distribution system. The bulk of the state’s electricity is generated by natural gas plants. About 11 years ago, after a wicked freeze resulted in widespread outages, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recommended all power-generating plants install insulation to protect against a future freeze. Instead, they did nothing. So when our friend the polar vortex pushed freezing cold far into Texas, power generation literally froze up, and millions went dark and cold. (El Paso, it should be noted, is connected to the national grid and did not lose power during the freeze.) 

Sen. Cruz decided it would be a good time to head to Cancun, Mexico, for some warmth and sunshine. He was photographed and recorded on every step of the journey, and Texans, trapped in the cold and without potable water, were none too happy.  

Then Cruz just made things worse in the denial-and-defend stages of his explanation. He was, he said, just trying to be a “good daddy” to his young daughters who wanted out of the cold. That bit of deflection was put to rest when it was revealed he'd invited his college roommate along, and his wife had texted friends asking them to come join them for a “week in the sun.” There was no mention of children.

Next, Cruz said he only intended to stay overnight and return the next day. Except his original flight itinerary had him returning a week later. And the carry-on bag he was seen dragging through the airport was mighty big for an overnight stay.

Eventually, after blaming the media for the dust-up, he said it was a mistake, and he had regretted it as soon as he sat down on the plane. Perhaps he should have then deplaned. A very weak performance by someone who wants to run for president again in 2024. 

Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York, was the matinee idol of the first half of the COVID-19 pandemic, a sort of anti-Donald Trump. His daily press briefings, carried by some cable new outlets and local stations in New York, were must-see TV for lots of people. He was blunt, open, straightforward, and honest ... well, except for those COVID-related deaths in nursing homes.  

In late March, as New York City faced a mounting pandemic crisis, Cuomo ordered nursing homes with isolation capabilities to accept “medically stable” COVID patients. The idea was to free up bed space in rapidly overcrowding hospitals. Many states, including Michigan, at least allowed nursing homes to accept such patients.  

But Cuomo and his staff began understating deaths in nursing homes by larger and larger percentages. Their defense was they were under threat of investigation by the Trump Department of Justice and feared the true numbers would be used against them. So they lied and knowingly understated COVID-related deaths in nursing home — at one point, by more than 100 percent. What they initially claimed was 5,000 deaths expanded to 9,500 deaths and now rests just below 14,000 deaths. Why they believed the subterfuge would not ultimately be exposed is a mystery. 

Cuomo is no longer quite so popular.

Neither Grisham nor Cruz made anything worse, other than their reputations, by their stupidity. Cuomo's situation is stickier. It's not clear if the COVID patients sent to nursing homes resulted in more deaths of residents already there. Cuomo says the bug was brought in by staffers, not new patients. There is reason to be skeptical.

None of the three seemed to have a clue.












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