29 June

One Man’s Truth: Cuomo-Trump,The Empire Strikes Back

by Jon Katz

Today, come and read how the arrogant and confident Trump supporters in 2020 and the gloomy and deflated Hilary Clinton supporters in 2016 have switched roles, each about to trade some trauma with the other.

This morning, a devastating rebuke of the President of the United States by the Governor of New York State in a press conference with a punch.

Take a look at it if you want to understand the nature of the election that is heating up by the day.

In a blistering indictment of the federal government’s handling of the pandemic tearing through the United States, Cuomo (of the Empire State) devoted the opening of his press conference to what amounted to a stinging indictment of the President.

The two have been sniping for a while, but this was a cannon blast, right to the heart of the President’s inability to govern.

It’s time to “wake-up America,” said Andrew Cuomo, laying out the failure of the federal government to confront the threat of virus “from day one..”

He also pled with the President to wear a mask and require the nation to do the same and commit the federal government to appropriate testing.

He should have put a “graphic warning” sign on those charts showing American people getting sick and dying in higher numbers than almost anywhere in the world.

Warning: it is gut-wrenching to watch, it is painful to see my country looking so pathetic and uncaring and overwhelmed. The lies are just not panning out, in fact, they are killing people.

Cuomo’s detailed timeline of the federal government’s failure to acknowledge or respond to the coronavirus will stain his and his party’s reputation for a long time to come. The dimensions of this failure are just beginning to be clear.

Our country is bleeding and nobody seems to have any bandages.

Cuomo was very much a prosecutor this morning.

Calmly, methodically but persuasively, he detailed the President’s failure to bring the federal government to bear in this pandemic, which has taken more than 112,000 American lives.

In an age of hype and shouting, Cuomo has perfected the art of speaking softly and carrying a big stick.

Still, it was one of those spine-tingling bursts of truth that can alter history.

In a sense, he sees Americans as a jury; and he presented his case like Perry Mason.

The President has been ridiculing and demeaning Cuomo’s handling of the virus for months now, urging his followers to “liberate” New York by demonstrating against Cuomo wherever he went and belittling the idea that the virus was dangerous or any more than another version of the flu.

After today, he’ll have to give Cuomo a nickname.

Sometimes I have the feeling that testosterone will ultimately be the end of the world, white men with penis complexes showing how manly they really are.

I am glad I have a big mouth instead of a big penis, I’m off the hook, nobody is ever afraid of me.

Cuomo took the statesman route today, but he couldn’t hide the joy of the battle in his eyes.

Today, the governors of the states that supported Trump’s insistence on opening up quickly are in retreat.

Many thousands of people across the Southern tier are getting sick and dying, while the number of New Yorkers who are getting ill and dying is rapidly declining.

Look who’s laughing now.

Cuomo took his revenge calmly, methodically, and factually, once again drawing the most vivid contrast between one style of governing and another and helping to set the stage for the 2020 Presidential re-election campaign.

Trump tweeted about his beloved confederate statues and was outraged that they might change the name of John Wayne International Airport in Orange, County, California.

And that is what the election is about, isn’t it? Can we have a kinder and more rational America? Or not.

We met on this playing field,  you and I,  a little more than a month ago, when I wrote about the dueling realities of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump.

The post, my first political writing in more than 25 years, went viral, drawing 300,000 shares on Facebook. I decided to fire up this column and join the most important story in modern American history – the 2020 election.

To the dismay of many of my readers and a lot of Trump supporters and unhappy English teachers, I plunged back into political writing and analysis. It’s hard and draining work, but I am enjoying it.

I would never have forgiven myself if I let this one go by.

Today, we return to the extraordinary Cuomo-Trump dialogue,  and it’s implications for the rest of us.

These two men, both cast into the limelight for different reasons, have set the stage for this election and come to define it.

In some ways, Trump and Cuomo are similar – two brash and often angry street fighters from Queens, N.Y., who have risen to the top of the political world.

Both have a gift for alienating people. But the virus smoothed Cuomo out, like a shiny gemstone. It seems to have hardened the President.

As related as they are in some ways, they could hardly be more different when it comes to govern.

But somehow, I think it is braver and tougher to be compassionate and honest.

Cuomo is a national political figure now; he isn’t going to fade away any more than the virus is. He is the anti-Trump to much of America, a way to see what it means to lead and govern, the road not taken but yearned for.

Sometimes he looks smug as if he can hardly believe who is in the White House and who isn’t. But he never says that I guess it is an unspoken truth.

Cuomo has risen above himself, and called out his and our better angels, drawing praise and admiration and a world-wide audience, new for a New York governor.

Trump has fallen through the floor.  This morning Cuomo quoted Will Roger’s great advice for people who are digging holes for themselves: stop digging.

Trump can’t stop digging. The hole gets deeper every day.

Yesterday, a photo of Trump golfing went viral as Americans die in record numbers. Do you need political analysts to tell you this is disastrous position for any President to take in the midst of a crisis like this?

How can one justify it? I don’t believe he cares if he wins or not. He’s too deep in now to back out, but nobody can stop him from defeating himself.

And a lot of people are trying. There comes a point where you can’t just turn it around, and that point is just about upon us. The media want to keep it close for as long as possible, their bottom lines depend on it.

But a national election is like a giant cruise ship, it takes a long time and lots of room to move it or turn it around.

States he desperately needs to win re-election – Arizona, Florida, Texas – all broke records for coronavirus victims and deaths. Their leadership doesn’t smell too good right now.

Is Trump trying to prove to us just how callous and tone-deaf he can be? Or doesn’t it matter to him any more?

Is he trying to test just how much Americans are willing to put up with to have that booming economy back?

Many people wonder how Trump’s supporters can be so blind as to overlook his lethal failings.

But the answer is simple.

I spent several hours this week watching Fox News and several of the most conservative Trump-supporting websites online – The Washington Free Beacon, the American Thinker, The Blaze, Twitchy, PJ Media, Red State, the Federalist, the Drudge Report (Drudge does report on the President’s troubles).

If you watch and read this media and only this media, you would have no idea the President is in trouble, or that the pandemic is roaring back, or that it is dangerous, or that Trump is going to pieces and losing the very voters he most desperately needs.

You wouldn’t even know so many people are dying, or that the virus is not like the flu.

They are not reading the same stories you are reading, and watching the same programs you are watching.

Like Hilary Clinton supporters in 2016, Trump supporters live in a sealed bubble and know nothing of the other world. There is plenty of conspiracy and red meat ideology, and spirited writing,  but few facts and no pretense of balance.

They don’t know what is happening outside of their world.

They can’t understand why Hilary Clinton isn’t in jail, by now or why Barack Obama and Joe Biden have not joined her, along with those FBI agents who unlawfully persecuted Trump for no reason at all.

Of course, his supporters are confident and optimistic; they have no idea how much trouble he is in. Their media hasn’t told them.

I realized while watching these sites and programs that Trump in 2020 and Hilary Clinton in 2016 have somehow changed roles.

He is – or was – the arrogant and oblivious – favorite. His followers don’t believe for a second that a 79-year-old who conquered stuttering and rarely leaves his house is about to beat him silly.

Trump’s supporters find this inconceivable, another fantasy from the Trump haters.

But I think Trump does now, you can see how he is unraveling, enraged and frightened at the same time.

These Trump-loving sites reminded me of the mainstream media before the election four years ago.

The Cuomo press conference – he pointed out that New York City has 750 coronavirus test sites and the federal government has 41 in all of the country –  was in dramatic counterpoint to the President, holed up in the White House, spewing self-pitying tweets and re-tweeting stunningly racist and white nationalist videos and images.

Do people really still think Trump wants to win? Or can win?

Cuomo’s use of facts rather than emotion has given him credibility that the President has completely lost. Even his supporters know Trump lies all the time, they’re not dumb, it just doesn’t bother them.

In his non-rambling, to-the-point, here-are-the-facts’-ma’am press conference, Cuomo laid out the structure of the case against Trump, Biden’s campaign and Democrats across the country have already picked up on it.

That is their narrative for 2020, the Grim Reaper is now in the race.

I’ve been writing for some weeks now that Trump seems to me like a shell-shocked boxer who has gone too many rounds. I can’t imagine handling the presidency at my age – I’m 72 – and Trump is older than I am, and I believe that he is sick.

And his presidency has been rough from the first day.

Trump is either attacking or being attacked 24/7, and I imagine his golf outings are essential to his mental and physical health. But it sure looked bad this weekend.

I also believe he is sick in some way that has not yet been disclosed. Either way, he looks grim.

Trump’s behavior is more startling by the day, and the most logical explanation I can think of is this:

If he wins, he will be happy to continue being on television for much of the rest of his life, a tweetish volcano without restraints.  He doesn’t do much else.

If he doesn’t, he’ll head off with Melania (she got a new prenup before moving to Washington, according to a new book about her)  to Mar-A-Largo and be on television for the rest of his life, a tweetish volcano without restraints.

He will golf a lot more.

The people who have worked with him say he spends almost all of his time complaining to buddies on the phone, obsessing on his media coverage, plotting revenge against his growing enemies list, saving Confederate statues, insulting black NFL players who kneel, and tweeting and re-tweeting racist and provocative tweets.

Why not do all of these things from his castle in Florida, his golf course just down the road, plenty of room for his buddies to come down and have lunch and praise him?

 He could have a radio or tv if he wished, and take up the mantle of the ailing Rush Limbaugh.

Nobody would censor his many lies odd statements and calls for bigotry and violence, and no reporters could aggravate him with their questions. And best of all, no meetings and briefings.

At this rate, he will have a fanatic following of angry and disconnected people to join him in his self-imposed exile.

And he can comfort himself with this: Joe Biden didn’t defeat him. He never got the chance.


  1. I so hope you are right but wonder if he has convinced himself that the fix is in and he us assured of another 4 years.

  2. We need to stop the heartless policies that trump set in motion. If trump quits, pence will likely get the nomination and he might actually get the win. Trump needs to stay in until he is defeated.

  3. You do know that the “Empire” is the evil bad guy, right? Your title doesn’t mean what you think it means.

  4. I have many friends and acquaintances who support,45. And they accuse me of hating him because I share posts that I believe are true. I tell them I also post animal and uplifting posts. And do they also notice them. I also tell them let’s just agree to disagree. But I am not going to stop with the 45 post.

  5. Hi Jon,
    I am really glad to hear you are enjoying your political writing, even though it is hard work, because your perspective on things is really important to a lot of us right now. Like Queen Esther In Scripture, I think the confluence of your background and writing skill are “made for such a time as this”.
    As I read the daily news over coffee every morning, I am always delighted when I find a piece of political writing on your blog.
    Here’s hoping your readership continues to expand! And please keep writing!
    Nancy F

  6. Dear Mr. Katz,
    I hust read where your beloved governor, mayor of nyc and attorney general just got shut down by a judge for discrimination against religion. What say you to that?

    1. I say good morning to you sir, I have no idea what you are talking about or how it relates to what I wrote..Feel free to speak plain English and explain what you are trying to say…or why I should give a hoot about court rulings in nyc..

  7. Thank you once again for your political posts and insight. I look forward to each one, and I find your perspective refreshing and invaluable. Keep it up!

  8. Of the Star Wars movies, “The Empire Strikes Back” was not very good. As for this empire striking back, it, too, isn’t very good. Both the Rep party and the Dem party are of the same bad cloth. I’m sure Marie wouldn’t want that cloth.

    1. Can’t speak for Maria and her cloth, I’m not sure of the point your making, my reference to the Empire was Empire State, not the movie..yes of course both parties are similar at the core, I’ve written that a dozen times.

  9. I written before that I have loved your books and enjoyed your blog, but what you’re writing now is some of your best. Thank you!

  10. Keep up the good work Jon. Your political perspectives are spot on. So are Cuomo’s. I believe a very important and troubled time is playing out in our USA history and I’m glad you are putting the facts out, in truthful writing, to help us sort through the issues. That’s what good political writers do.

  11. You said, “I spent several hours this week watching Fox News and several of the most conservative Trump-supporting websites online…” Wow, Jon–you are a brave and dedicated man. I can only stomach a minute or two at the very most. Many, many thanks for serving your readers (and your country, I might add) by doing this kind of work and keeping us all informed. I have come to rely on your posts for informed political info since I get easily overwhelmed, even nauseated, by trying to follow too much news/views/politics. I do have a question: if Trump’s followers are only watching/following media that don’t show his problems, gaffs, illness (mental and/or physical) then how are they getting a true picture of what he is like and therefore will not vote for him or perhaps actually vote against him in Nov.? That is, I am still worried he could pull off a win in Nov. One more thing–please do take care of yourself. I know you know that too much of this kind of news diet/cogitating can be extremely stressful. I’m glad that you have lots and lots of resources in Maria, your dogs, your farm, your friends, and from the service work you do. And from the meditation and quiet time you give yourself. Wishing you all the best, with gratitude. Dawn

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