New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo compared Hurricane Sandy to Hurricane Katrina during a press conference while trying to ask for more federal aid, and maybe that wasn't the best idea.
When speaking with reporters Monday evening, Cuomo said Sandy "affected many, many more people and places than Katrina," which is debatable in and of itself, but what's worse is that he doubled down on the comparison before anyone challenged it, saying the comparison, "puts this entire conversation, I believe, in focus."
Well, let's look at how, exactly, the comparison might put it in focus. Cuomo said Sandy cost the state approximately $42 billion, which no one is denying is a whopping amount of money. The New York Times reports that Cuomo "acknowledged that more people had been killed by Hurricane Katrina," but the infrastructure costs to New York were greater than that of Hurricane Katrina's effect on the Gulf Coast. Because of New York's density, Sandy damaged more homes and affected more buildings and businesses than Katrina, Cuomo is arguing.
Most people on Twitter immediately could tell this was a bad idea:
Look, no one is denying that horrible things happened in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Things still aren't back to normal for a lot of people, especially those in Staten Island and the Rockaways, but Hurricane Katrina killed over 1,800 people. And bringing up that storm when you're trying to measure how much the federal government should give you to repair your state isn't the best way to frame your argument, because you certainly look like you're trying to put a greater price on your infrastructure than those people's lives. Cuomo isn't that stupid, we don't think, but that's certainly how it appears when you take his statements at face value. He needed to be clearer and he wasn't. Cuomo will likely come out with a new statement clarifying his original intent, and that will likely be acceptable enough, but this should serve as a cautionary tale for policymakers looking to talk about such disasters in the future. Keep your message focused, and specific to the event at hand.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.