Maybe I now understand more clearly why Mario Cuomo never ran for President.
As a local New York City politician, Mario Cuomo always cut the image of a profoundly decent man. Politics is politics, but there is something to be said for decency. Although I am very much a conservative populist — or is it a populist conservative? — with touches of Ayn Rand libertarianism, compassionate humanitarianism, and primarily driven by Torah obligations and values, I always have enjoyed friendships with liberals who are just plain decent folks. I enjoyed them in college. I have enjoyed them throughout my life.
For more famous examples of the types of people I mean, contemplate people like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Hubert Humphrey, Henry Jackson, Adlai Stevenson. Mario Cuomo was of that sort. As far as politics go, not my flavor, but good decent people. They share many qualities: misguided but sincere compassion on domestic issues, misguided but sincere ideas and plans for making lives better, personally honorable and dignified.
And — alas — dead.
As with the strangely tailored cuts of contemporary Levi’s jeans, they likewise just don’t make liberals like they used to. Maybe Joe Manchin is an exception. I don’t know. If what he does and says on the outside reflects what he really is thinking in the inside, I could enjoy him. But it may be that he has no choice but to play the role of reasonable moderate because once-blue West Virginia now eats Democrats with their biscuits and gravy.
Mario Cuomo aspired to be great, and he ran for Lieutenant Governor of New York. He lost to Mary Anne Krupsak. Remember her? Me neither.
Then he ran for mayor of New York City, but he lost to Ed Koch. So he ran for governor of New York State — facing the same Ed Koch — and this time he won (sorta like the Lincoln-Douglas thing, where Stephen Douglas beats Abraham Lincoln in 1858 for U.S. Senator, but then Lincoln beats Douglas two years later for President). Koch had run into a perfect storm of bad politics: On one hand, he had antagonized “Upstaters” by making disparaging remarks about the “sterile” parts of the state outside New York City and about his not looking forward to relocating from “the city that never sleeps” to living in the state’s dull capital city, Albany, where there was not even “a good Chinese restaurant.” On the other hand, many voters in New York City also voted against Koch’s gubernatorial effort because they then very much wanted him to remain as mayor of their city. So Mario won the state house.
In time Mario Cuomo proved to be a decent liberal, and soon national Democrats courted him to run for President of the United States. No matter one’s politics, Cuomo delivered a uniquely moving, even gripping, keynote address at the Democrat National Convention of 1984, and he clearly was the Democrats’ best chance to run against George H.W. Bush four years later. Mysteriously, though, he refused to run. So many could not understand why he so adamantly refused to give it a try. He was, after all, quite evidently ambitious, always seeking higher office, never letting defeats deter him from jumping higher. And yet I came to think I had figured it out: The guy was a decent man, and he did not want the vicious, venal national media scavenging through his prior life to find some skeleton somewhere that would put him and his family through the garbage that Americans say they hate to read about — but can’t wait to devour.
This indeed is why, with the rare exception of a Mount Rushmore-Ronald Reagan sort, we cannot entice better leaders from America’s hundreds of millions to seek the White House. We claw and scratch and devour, searching for any acne pimple we can find. So we end up with the flawed, the unsuited, those lucky to be enshrined by history in Tier 2 or Tier 3. What the Outlet Stores call the “returns,” the “previously opened boxes.” Show Americans a fundamentally decent candidate with a proven excellent career in public service and government, someone like a Mike Huckabee, and they will relegate him to a second stage alongside preposterous challengers like Carly Fiorina. Instead, a CNN and MSNBC will prop up a Michael Avenatti as their presidential star, beckoning that he run — or, as Nike might say: Just do it! We never will know all the great men and women out there who could have led our country to greatness, and without scandal or intemperance, who simply took one look at the process and decided “That garbage is not for me.” How else explain a punchline like Vice President Kamala Harris?
Mario’s son, Andrew, inherited Dad’s ambition along with an extra-saturated dose of hubris. For the longest time, Andrew’s more arrogant approach to public life seemed to serve him well. He moved up the political ladder, benefiting from the synergy of Dad’s political contacts and name reputation, augmented by New York State’s fascinating era of competing with Illinois for the honor of most consecutive governors ousted mid-term for incompetence and scandal. Of Illinois, the tale is told of two felony prisoners on a lunch line complaining to each other about the slop that was being served as food. Said one to the other: “They should arrest the people who call this stuff food.” Replied the other: “So true! When I was Governor, I never allowed this disgrace!”
New York just has had its run. There was Eliot Spitzer who came to clean up New York as he supposedly had cleaned up Wall Street. Barely a year after entering office, he was doing “The Good Wife” press conference, apologizing to his wife and the voters. See also Client 9. He was succeeded by David Paterson, New York’s first Black governor and first “legally blind” one. (Others were blind illegally?) Paterson’s story was so inspirational. I recall seeing him walking with his cane during the years we both attended Columbia University as undergrads. He was the son of a New York State Senator, won that state senate seat when his Dad retired, and rose to become senate minority leader. As Number 2 to Client 9, he became governor when Spitzer was forced to resign. Alas, Gov. Paterson proved to be incompetent and worse — ultimately facing allegations of witness tampering, soliciting improper gifts, and making false statements under oath — so was pressured by Obama’s campaign people to drop his election campaign soon after he announced. Gov. Paterson’s lasting legacy is that he appointed the until-then and now-once-again unknown Kirsten Gillibrand to Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate seat when Hillary abandoned it for a shot at higher office and boosting the Clinton Foundation. Andrew Cuomo stepped in.
If I were not an Orthodox rabbi but instead followed Greek or Roman mythology, I would be saying “Cuomo was favored by the gods.” Instead, with apologies to Sophocles and Euripides (or Longfellow?), whom the gods would destroy, they first make New York governor.
Andrew Cuomo entered with everything a politician could ask for. Like Benjamin Harrison, Franklin Roosevelt, and anyone in Massachusetts named Kennedy, the office already had been warmed by a relative who had emblazoned his very surname on the office. Like any person who marries someone divorced from a jerk, he came in after Spitzer and Paterson with nowhere to go but up. After all, he couldn’t be worse — right? Third, he continually has had a brother shilling for him on CNN, influencing the many hundreds who watch CNN. Fourth, he rose to Albany at a time when states like California and New York have been hemorrhaging Republican conservative voters while importing newcomers dependent on state social services and thus certain to vote Democrat, so his seat is so safe that his toughest competition in more than a decade came from a screwy Woke actress from Sex and the City who argued that shoplifters should not be arrested. So he got Nixon to kick around. Fifth, in an era when the entire mainstream media establishment was united like a Standard Oil or Facebook-Twitter-Google monopoly in trying to destroy President Donald Trump, Cuomo got to play Trump Arch Nemesis for the national media in daily press conferences presenting an alternate universe towards confronting the COVID pandemic. Even as the media ganged up on Trump — and Trump did not shy away from the daily food fight — there was Cuomo, America’s Governor, calmly, methodically discussing the science, the data, and his masterful handling of the crisis.
Reminiscent of Obama being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize on the occasion of his bar mitzvah or bris — like, if not for that, what was it for? — the media actually awarded Cuomo an Emmy Award for his TV performances. His brother, Chris — don’t call him Fredo — was not even close second, even though CNN pays Chris to be a TV celebrity. And maybe that is where Andrew Cuomo finally deserved an accolade he truly had earned all on his own, not thanks to Dad and not thanks to Bro — an award for acting. Because, even as this guy was posturing as the Counter-Trump of Science, he actually was hiding in plain sight as the Notorious New Yawk Nursing Home Killer.
There were hints, as when he told our nation that America never was all that great anyway. It was he who ordered New York nursing homes, who were medically and structurally unprepared for the challenge, to admit thousands of infected coronavirus sufferers into their seniors’ facilities. Under the Governor’s orders, they were coerced to comply or face brutal defunding, and somewhere along the lines of 10,000 seniors died as a result.
Certainly, any fair-minded critic will acknowledge that Cuomo did not set out to kill 10,000 seniors purposefully. He lacked mens rea, the Latin term we attorneys and law professors use to connote the evil intent in a killer’s state of mind to commit murder. Cuomo did not murder; he only killed.
This gent once mocked Orthodox Jews for celebrating the holy week of Sukkot in “F- – – ing treehouses.” There is something wickedly perverse in that, as seniors in nursing homes under his control became sycamore and more from the COVID plague to which he fatally condemned so many thousands of them, Cuomo never was taken down by killing 10,000 New York seniors. For that, CNN and his brother and the rest of the Left media were prepared to shield him. Instead, like the former senator from Minnesota who fell in the “Decade of Al Franken,” Cuomo was taken down by another of the scams employed by the Left to attack American democracy and fair play, but that often consume their own instead. Remember #MeToo — that fraudulent “movement” created to destroy the Hon. Brett M. Kavanaugh, an incredibly honorable, dignified, decent, and G-d-fearing Catholic family man? I would never wish on anyone the nightmare that he and his wife and daughters had to endure as Democrat hypocrites manipulated the most evil of lies and perjuries to audition themselves before a national television audience for the role of Vice President. But Kavanaugh won, while #MeToo ultimately took down Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA), Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D-NY), Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Rep. Rubén Jesús Kihuen Bernal (D-NV), State Sen. Antonio Mendoza (D-CA), liberal movie mogul and Democrat mega donor Harvey Weinstein, Woke actor Kevin Spacey, perverted Woke comedians Andy Dick and Louis C.K., liberal TV network icons Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer, CBS president, chairman, and CEO Leslie Moonves, Tavis Smiley, and so many others of that ilk. Republicans, too, have been swept up in the worthy effort to protect against harassment, as have several prominent females in political office and in enterprise. But #MeToo was supposed to take down Judge — now Justice — Kavanaugh and President Trump, not to eviscerate whole swaths of the Democrat party and the Woke entertainment and media industry.
That’s how it is now for Cuomo. Irony: the Nursing Home Killer, the Emmy-winning master of data, himself now is relegated to being but one more statistic: here today, gone tomorrow. Or as the cashier shouts at a Bronx grocery after ringing up a customer: Next!!!
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