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“Crime, crime, crime,” barked Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday, when asked to rank New York City’s top problems.
“Ho, ho, ho,” said everybody else — at least those who remembered Cuomo’s cowardice in the face of last years’ riots.
Or his broad smile when he signed the 2019 criminal-justice “reforms” that loosed a whirlwind on the entire state.
Or his stern cluck-clucking in 2020 when he demanded that every city in the Empire State slap hobbles on its cops or face ruinous state-aid cuts.
And criminals, being criminals, respond to feckless leadership with a vengeance.
The riots were emblematic. While police were distracted by George Floyd protesters, looters raged across Manhattan, hitting everything from a downtown Apple store to Macy’s Herald Square while busting up businesses and trashing buildings north, well into the 60s.
Police scarcely lifted a finger; Mayor Bill de Blasio stood in slack-jawed bewilderment; boarded-up buildings became the face of New York. And through it all, Cuomo was silent.
A different governor — a better governor — would have had a National Guard convoy through the Lincoln Tunnel faster than de Blasio could say “Che Guevara.” But Cuomo, taking a cue from David Dinkins during the 1991 Crown Heights riots, chose to let the mob vent.
This was entirely in character.
As he said when he signed those criminal-justice-“reform” bills in 2019, “the blunt, ugly reality is that too often, if you can make bail, you are set free, and if you are too poor to make bail, you are punished.”
Which might make sense up in Morningside Heights, in a Columbia School of Social Work classroom, but not so much on Gotham’s mean streets. Or on its subway platforms. Or in its iconic public spaces. Everywhere the guns are.
It wasn’t just the bail nonsense. Progressives applauded as Cuomo signed bills that, among other things, require prosecutors to tell defense lawyers where potentially damning witnesses live. Imagine that.
Crime had already been rising — up 30 percent in 2019 — when Cuomo signed those bills. This supercharged the crisis. No wonder there was an explosion.
The governor, clever fellow that he is, noticed. “There is no doubt that [‘reform’] is a work in progress,” he said. “Changing the system is complicated.”
It’s not, actually. All you have to do is stop enforcing seemingly minor laws, or at least deep-sixing penalties, and — presto! — you have the bad guys committing the big ones: murder, robbery and rape, among them. And now the gangbangers are relentlessly strafing city streets.
Surely Cuomo gets the connection — but, really, butter wouldn’t melt in the man’s mouth. Wednesday’s crime diatribe was aimed at de Blasio’s flaccid policing policies, which derive from a moronic worldview, and clearly the mayor had it coming.
But what was Cuomo really saying? There is no mindreading necessary here: Nothing is ever Cuomo’s fault.
Thousands shoved into nursing homes, with cataclysmic results? The feds made him do it.
Caught leching on the help? The ladies — all 10 of them — should have known he didn’t mean it.
Now the worm is turning on crime, so it’s time to pin the tail on the donkey in City Hall.
Maybe it will work. Most likely not, at least in the long run. Cuomo is in a world of hurt, on multiple fronts. He has no friends; his one good buddy, Joe Percoco, now stews in federal prison. The Assembly, seriously or otherwise, is considering impeachment. Attorney General Tish James has got a harassment probe going. And the feds are looking into the nursing-home debacle.
And now the Empire State seems to have had it with the progressive approach to crime. Cuomo has been around long enough to know that voters can be slow to anger, but when that happens, things get ugly, as Dinkins discovered in 1993.
Does the governor still harbor hopes for a fourth term? Perhaps. He will be lucky to get out of the scrapes he is already in. But if New Yorkers fully tumble to his role in their slowly cresting crime tsunami, his goose is cooked well and proper.
So, time for Plan B: Lie, lie lie.
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