Mario Cuomo dies

Mario Cuomo, the three-term governor of New York who inspired liberals with his idealistic oratory and led New York into decline with crushingly high taxes to fund lavish social services, has passed away.  His death came shortly after his oldest son Andrew was inaugurated for his second term as governor.

Liberals are offering up nostalgia so thick you could cut it with a knife.  For them, Mario Cuomo will always be the man who stood up to President Reagan’s conservatism at the 1984 Democratic Convention and articulated the liberal credo, trying to shame the most popular and effective president of his era because there were still poor people in the utopia he demanded.  That the poor have increased in number under President Obama and decreased in number under President Reagan meant nothing.  It’s always all about the emotions and auto-gratification of claiming the moral high ground.

The favorite word to describe him seems to be “lion,” a word last applied to Ted Kennedy, as in “lion of the Senate.”  As best I can understand, that seems to mean someone whose oratory makes people all tingly, but whose actual life and works do not stand up to close scrutiny.  Nobody every accused Mario Cuomo of abusing women, much less abandoning them to die while he saved himself, but like Kennedy, he was a self-professed believing Catholic who flagrantly violated his church’s teaching on abortion, and a tax-and-spend advocate who had abundant compassion for the poor and precious little for the middle class who struggled to pay the taxes he demanded.

The best obituary I have yet seen was written by the New York Post’s Frederick Dicker, the dean of the Albany press corps, who has covered Cuomo since he was New York’s secretary of state.  Two excerpts:

Early in Cuomo’s service as lieutenant governor, Robert Morgado, Gov. Hugh Carey’s longtime chief of staff, startled me with the observation that Carey was convinced there was “something odd with Mario” — that he was arrogant, angry and often resentful toward those he worked with in public life.

As the years passed, I heard dozens of others close to Cuomo, including some who worked with him every day, echo Morgado’s words.

Mario Cuomo was one of the nation’s greatest orators, but his sometimes-dazzling speeches — like his keynote to the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco in 1984 — almost always lacked answers to the problems they addressed.

Cuomo insisted he was a believing Roman Catholic, but then he went to war with his church on the theologically crucial issue of abortion.

He was someone who claimed to have foresworn political labels but was actually a quintessential political liberal and, usually, proud of it.

People who knew him well often joked that Mario Cuomo was someone who was ready with a question for every answer.

He was called New York’s “Hamlet on the Hudson’’ because of a painful penchant for delaying — usually in the grips of agonizing indecision — virtually every important decision he had to make, most famously on whether he would run for president in 1988 and in 1992, years when the Democratic nomination could have been his for the seeking.

As for his practical legacy:

Gov. Mario Cuomo raised literally hundreds of state taxes to fund ever-expanding social programs and developed fiscal gimmicks, including the notorious scheme to “sell’’ the Attica Correctional Facility back to the state to pad public revenues so he could spend even more.

Cuomo rejected a chance to end the hugely expensive tolls on the New York State Thruway and he literally destroyed, under pressure from environmental activists, the Long Island Lighting Co. and its $5 billion Shoreham nuclear power plant, saddling Long Island residents to this day with some of the highest utility costs in the nation.

Mario Cuomo presided over the widening loss of upstate jobs, industry and population, of which he was well aware. Either because he didn’t know how to address the problem or because, more likely, a deep streak of fatalism left him believing there was nothing he could do about it, the problem has continued to this day.

His family and friends deserve and have our condolences.  His works live on in New York as that state continues to decline, now falling to the fourth largest population in the country, down from first when I was a child.

Mario Cuomo, the three-term governor of New York who inspired liberals with his idealistic oratory and led New York into decline with crushingly high taxes to fund lavish social services, has passed away.  His death came shortly after his oldest son Andrew was inaugurated for his second term as governor.

Liberals are offering up nostalgia so thick you could cut it with a knife.  For them, Mario Cuomo will always be the man who stood up to President Reagan’s conservatism at the 1984 Democratic Convention and articulated the liberal credo, trying to shame the most popular and effective president of his era because there were still poor people in the utopia he demanded.  That the poor have increased in number under President Obama and decreased in number under President Reagan meant nothing.  It’s always all about the emotions and auto-gratification of claiming the moral high ground.

The favorite word to describe him seems to be “lion,” a word last applied to Ted Kennedy, as in “lion of the Senate.”  As best I can understand, that seems to mean someone whose oratory makes people all tingly, but whose actual life and works do not stand up to close scrutiny.  Nobody every accused Mario Cuomo of abusing women, much less abandoning them to die while he saved himself, but like Kennedy, he was a self-professed believing Catholic who flagrantly violated his church’s teaching on abortion, and a tax-and-spend advocate who had abundant compassion for the poor and precious little for the middle class who struggled to pay the taxes he demanded.

The best obituary I have yet seen was written by the New York Post’s Frederick Dicker, the dean of the Albany press corps, who has covered Cuomo since he was New York’s secretary of state.  Two excerpts:

Early in Cuomo’s service as lieutenant governor, Robert Morgado, Gov. Hugh Carey’s longtime chief of staff, startled me with the observation that Carey was convinced there was “something odd with Mario” — that he was arrogant, angry and often resentful toward those he worked with in public life.

As the years passed, I heard dozens of others close to Cuomo, including some who worked with him every day, echo Morgado’s words.

Mario Cuomo was one of the nation’s greatest orators, but his sometimes-dazzling speeches — like his keynote to the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco in 1984 — almost always lacked answers to the problems they addressed.

Cuomo insisted he was a believing Roman Catholic, but then he went to war with his church on the theologically crucial issue of abortion.

He was someone who claimed to have foresworn political labels but was actually a quintessential political liberal and, usually, proud of it.

People who knew him well often joked that Mario Cuomo was someone who was ready with a question for every answer.

He was called New York’s “Hamlet on the Hudson’’ because of a painful penchant for delaying — usually in the grips of agonizing indecision — virtually every important decision he had to make, most famously on whether he would run for president in 1988 and in 1992, years when the Democratic nomination could have been his for the seeking.

As for his practical legacy:

Gov. Mario Cuomo raised literally hundreds of state taxes to fund ever-expanding social programs and developed fiscal gimmicks, including the notorious scheme to “sell’’ the Attica Correctional Facility back to the state to pad public revenues so he could spend even more.

Cuomo rejected a chance to end the hugely expensive tolls on the New York State Thruway and he literally destroyed, under pressure from environmental activists, the Long Island Lighting Co. and its $5 billion Shoreham nuclear power plant, saddling Long Island residents to this day with some of the highest utility costs in the nation.

Mario Cuomo presided over the widening loss of upstate jobs, industry and population, of which he was well aware. Either because he didn’t know how to address the problem or because, more likely, a deep streak of fatalism left him believing there was nothing he could do about it, the problem has continued to this day.

His family and friends deserve and have our condolences.  His works live on in New York as that state continues to decline, now falling to the fourth largest population in the country, down from first when I was a child.