LT GOV'S TWITTER RANT ON EBOLA
I’ve covered New York Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy for some 25 years.
And while he sometimes plays the simpleton, he isn’t. He is not calculating, but he is never random. He is an “Aw shucks” kind of guy who doesn’t have a bad word to say about anyone.
But he was a career cop who understands how the world works and knows how to operate in it. He is a smart and purposeful man. He is always marching on an objective, and focused on a goal.
So when he goes off on a Twitter rant in the middle of the night, it’s probably worth paying attention to.
Especially when it seems to be a direct and public condemnation of the policies of the president of the United States.
That would be a Democrat lieutenant governor taking pot shots at the Democrat president.
Two weeks before an election.
Bob Duffy won’t be on the ballot in two weeks, but his friend and current patron, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will be.
And it is hard to imagine how a governor as strong and controlling as Andrew Cuomo could have his lieutenant governor go off the reservation. Or how Duffy, who considers loyalty a cardinal virtue, could create political problems for his boss.
Which makes me think that when Bob Duffy lambasted Barack Obama, he was carrying water for Andrew Cuomo.
The governor can’t poke the president, so he has his trusty lieutenant governor do it.
At least that’s my theory.
Here’s what happened.
On Sunday night, Bob Duffy read an opinion piece in the “New York Post” in which the president of the New York City firefighters union said we should have a travel ban on countries with ebola. The union president also said that FDNY firefighters were, due to failed federal leadership, going blind into who knows what kind of an ebola soup.
Duffy Tweeted a link to that op-ed piece and added, “Gee – what a novel idea – stabilize the situation.” The headline of the story, which appeared in the Tweet was, “Stop the bungling! To show seriousness, ban travel.”
The president and his staff, unlike the leaders of almost all other nations, say a travel ban in is a bad thing and have refused to implement one.
Subsequently, Bob Duffy Tweeted, “We need to assist those countries affected by Ebola, but it is unconscionable that we allow new opportunities for exposure w/indecisiveness.”
“Indecisiveness” does not seem to be a complimentary word.
Then the lieutenant governor turned to the emergency ebola coordinator, a man who has previously been a political fixer: “While our new ‘Ebola Czar’ is certainly a smart, talented person- he has no medical/operational/logistical experience that is so necessary.”
And then, to close it out, Bob Duffy wrote: “A basic task for any emergency responder is to stabilize the situation so that it can be contained/not allow others to be injured/affected.”
Maybe these are the ramblings of a man who is two and a half months away from leaving public office. Maybe he just thought he’d give out his opinion.
But Bob Duffy has never publicly disagreed with Andrew Cuomo. The Duffy Rule is to express yourself frankly behind closed doors, and show a united front when you walk out. And if you can’t agree with what the governor wants, then keep your mouth shut and disappear for a while.
But that’s not what’s happening here.
Which makes me wonder if the governor is behind this.
It is clear the Obama Administration’s response to ebola thus far has been an utter catastrophe. Alone among the great nations of the world, we are leaving our airports and our society open to those travelling from infected parts of the world.
That’s a particular problem for New York, because New York City is the largest single destination for people travelling from western Africa. Some 40 percent of all the air passengers from those climes will enter the United States through JFK airport in New York City.
That means that if ebola is going to strike again in America, New York is the odds-on favorite for where it will happen.
And that has got to concern the New York governor.
Andrew Cuomo has in recent days structured New York hospitals and other assets to deal with an ebola outbreak, if one should happen.
Then, a couple of days later, his lieutenant governor, on a humble Twitter feed, assails the very policies that most endanger the health of New Yorkers.
An incompetent czar, an open-door policy from affected areas, and a direction that seems ad hoc at best.
In the dark of the night, Andrew Cuomo’s loyal lieutenant governor lambasted Barack Obama. The Democrat lieutenant governor of the most Democrat state in the nation openly mocked the policies of the Democrat president.
Maybe Bob Duffy did that of his own volition, and maybe Andrew Cuomo sent him to do it.
But either way, his points are right.
Our response is failed.
And it’s rare for a senior member of the president’s own party to say so.
Which makes the fact the media has completely ignored it all the more mystifying.
(HERE IS AN E-MAIL FROM THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR RECEIVED EARLY IN THE MORNING OF OCTOBER 21)
I have never discussed my views on this issue with the Governor, although he did state recently that he is open to discussing travel restrictions.
My tweets are my own views and I am not afraid to say that I just don't get that we stand by and do little, while allowing people to travel to the U.S., every day, who may be infected. Taking a person's temperature may be somewhat helpful, but it does not identify people carrying the disease who may be at a different stage of the incubation period.
One of the basic components of emergency response/management is to stabilize the situation and not allow a crisis to get worse, as you implement other responses.
Stopping the flow of those who may be carrying the disease, albeit for a finite period, would allow us some peace of mind that we are not making things worse.
The czar is probably a very smart, talented guy, but he has no medical, operational, logistical, or crisis management expertise. I am certain that he can navigate the halls of Congress effectively, but that position requires so much more. A well respected former/current/general would have been a great pick.
This has become a political situation when it is instead a health/medical crisis.
I sense the Governor is open to doing much more to protect NYS and is probably exploring options behind the scenes and contacting other key leaders.
I travel frequently and I am supposed to be in NYC Monday evening. I will be driving there and back. I am not confident in what is being done thus far.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2014