November 30, 2023
Source: Wikimedia Commons
I’ve just finished reading the hilariously terrible book What’s Left Unsaid by Melissa DeRosa, secretary to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (New York) that is so unself-aware, so arrogant, so embarrassing that I have to review it.
I only read it in the first place because I wanted to interview Cuomo on my Substack, figuring that after his defenestration, he’d be a fun interview. But I’m willing to sacrifice that possibility just to wallow in the awfulness of this book. (Plus, recent press reports say he’s thinking of running for mayor of New York, so it’s topical.)
Most dumbfounding, DeRosa brags about Cuomo bullying everyone into implementing his tyrannical COVID policies — all of which, as we now know, accomplished absolutely nothing (other than causing half a million New Yorkers to flee the state, making 2020-2021 New York’s largest single-year population loss in history).
— First, Cuomo bulldozed the legislature into giving him emergency powers to “institute mass quarantines, order businesses to close, suspend laws and issue sweeping directives.”
His COVID diktats did squat to slow the spread of COVID, but they did destroy businesses, annihilate cultural institutions, kill budding careers, stunt children’s educational development and delay urgent medical care, among other things. (What’s the word for that, again? It begins with an “A” … describes a strongman …)
— Next, Cuomo closed all public colleges in the state and browbeat private universities into doing the same.
In the first year of the pandemic, there were a grand total 648 deaths among 15-to-24-year-olds in the entire country — and we don’t know what other health problems those kids had. Cuomo ruined hundreds of thousands of young lives for no reason.
— Then, he badgered Mayor Bill de Blasio into shutting down public schools in New York City
— over the objections of the (wildly left-wing) mayor and the teachers union. As DeRosa puts it, both “were adamantly opposed to closing schools in the city, no ifs, ands or buts about it.”
One week after the governor had demanded that de Blasio close the schools, DeRosa writes, “the governor was done waiting.” He peremptorily called into a local TV station and simply announced that the city’s public schools were closed.
This was the single worst decision made during COVID, as even The New York Times has admitted. The little tykes were at essentially zero risk from COVID. But shutting down schools did irreparable harm to their cognitive and psychological development.
— Next, Cuomo bullied President Trump into sending the military to convert the Javits Center and the USS Comfort into field hospitals for New York City.
“‘This will get Trump’s attention,'” Cuomo predicted of his op-ed. “The piece ran [in the Times] the next day under the headline: ‘ANDREW CUOMO TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: MOBILIZE THE MILITARY TO HELP FIGHT CORONAVIRUS.'”
A kazillion dollars later, it turned out these temporary hospitals were completely unnecessary. They were shuttered after about a month, at which time the Javits Center had a grand total of 72 patients for its 2,500 beds.
— Finally, Cuomo demanded that upstate hospitals send all their ventilators to New York City, leaving upstate residents high and dry. He even forced recalcitrant private hospitals to relinquish their ventilators by calling the CEOs and threatening: “I will personally pull your operating license.”
Everyone now knows that ventilators were wildly overused and killed a lot of patients because COVID confused the oxygen readings, meaning the mechanical breathing tubes were unnecessary.
It could be argued that some of these policies were not known to be utterly catastrophic when Cuomo imposed them. But 1) That’s why it’s not a good idea to give one man the authority to “institute mass quarantines, order businesses to close, suspend laws and issue sweeping directives”; and 2) Now that we do know, why would you write a book reminding everyone that it was your boss who forced these policies on the public? It’s like bragging that he was the guy who made doctors give Thalidomide to pregnant women.
DeRosa seems quite pleased with herself for her own contribution to New York’s ludicrous COVID rules. She was the one, for example, who pushed for a quarantine on travelers from states like Texas, Florida and Arizona.
To his credit, Cuomo initially rejected the idea, saying, “Isn’t that exactly what we opposed back in March when Rhode Island threatened to quarantine New Yorkers?” To his discredit, he then acceded to Madam Ceausescu.
DeRosa was also the one whose bright idea it was to wreck New Yorkers’ 2020 Christmas holidays by insisting on a 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants. She says she’d have preferred to “unilaterally close all bars, restaurants and other State Liquor Authority-licensed establishments” but was worried that “there would be no public buy-in.” (You think?)
To really nail down the nuking of everyone’s holidays, she also “advocated that we limit indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences to no more than 10 people.”
Again, at first, Cuomo objected, on the grounds that the idea was insane, but quickly deferred to his drunk-with-power assistant.
Amazingly, DeRosa still doesn’t understand the virus she dedicated a year of her life to suppressing. In humble-brag fashion, she recounts her conversation with a senior health official early in the pandemic:
Health official: “‘[A]ccording to top medical professionals at the CDC and WHO, by all accounts, this virus acts like, well, the flu,’ he said.
“‘The flu?’ I asked, honestly confused.
“‘Yes, the flu; that’s what the federal government is saying.’
“‘Okay, accepting that premise, can I ask you a stupid question?’ I went on. [This is always the tip-off that sheer brilliance is coming.]
“‘Isn’t the major difference between this and the flu that the flu has a vaccine?'”
Although the “health official” agreed (naturally), that was a stupid question. A vaccine is not the main difference at all. The difference is: Our immune systems were familiar with the flu but had never encountered anything like COVID before.
The 1918 flu virus is still in circulation, and yet 50 million people don’t die of it every year because our immune systems recognize it. Now that we’ve all been exposed to COVID, it is just like the flu. (Also, FYI, only about half of adults in America get the flu shot anyway, and its effectiveness, year to year, is a crapshoot.)
Finally, it’s nice that DeRosa’s COVID lockdown was a blast, but kind of annoying to have her tell us about it. While poor families were jammed like sardines into tiny living quarters for a year, DeRosa spent her lockdown living like a queen.
She moved into the “Princess Beatrix suite” at the governor’s mansion, which, she says, had “a large bedroom and a separate sitting room with its own fireplace. There was an en suite bathroom, multiple closets to hang my perpetually wrinkled clothing in and an antique vanity.”
While gyms were closed throughout the state, she worked out in the mansion’s gym every day. While pools were closed and gatherings of more than 10 people banned, she regularly worked, dined and hung out by the mansion’s pool.
Once a week, DeRosa helicoptered with the governor to New York City. Whizzing through the city in the governor’s car one day, she describes the deserted streets of the once-bustling metropolis as “haunting and yet somehow beautiful.”
I’m sure little Pedro, who spent his lockdown in a one-bedroom apartment with his abusive father, drunk mother and seven siblings, appreciates these poetic reflections on the empty city created by you, Melissa. It makes you sound like a really swell person.