EDITORIAL Reprinted From This Week’s
Hometown Oneonta, Freeman’s Journal
He’s Ready For White House;
Americans Ready For Him
Already, he seems presidential, never more than this past Monday in announcing his collaboration with five other Northeast governors in a multi-state council “to restore the economy and get people back to work.”
Let’s do it.
In the five weeks of New York State’s fight against the coronavirus invasion, the governor’s shown all the qualities of leadership. He’s told the truth, good and bad. He’s had a plan. He declared a State of Emergency and implemented its most Draconian measures, unstintingly. He’s been decisive. He’s been human, and at times actually humorous.
He’s got the resumé: a life in politics, a cabinet position (HUD) by age 39, a decade as governor of the nation’s fourth largest state, containing its largest city.
But Andrew Cuomo has been part of New Yorkers’ lives for a long time, at least since managing his father’s first gubernatorial campaign in 1983, when he was still at Fordham (not Yale, thank goodness). There’s a lot to unpack.
Of course, anyone in public life that long has a mixed record.
He began as a vigorous advocate of Upstate’s renewal, but his Buffalo Billion initiative to bring the Jobs of Tomorrow here floundered amid corruption trials that sent some of his closest aides and top appointees to jail.
On the very plus side, he created 10 regional economic development councils, competing against each other for state funding – may the best ideas win! The $10 million special DRI grant to Oneonta is making much possible that wouldn’t have been.
But he failed to allow Otsego County to meet its energy needs, blocking the Constitution pipeline, allowing NYSEG to not live up to it’s responsibilities to maintain the grid we need for a wind and solar future. West Laurens’ solar-mega farm? All the power will be spirited downstate via Marcy South.
Still, the Cuomo Administration has recognized Cooperstown as the regional economic engine,
and generously funded the Baseball Hall of Fame’s futuristic initiatives, and The Fenimore
and Farmers’ museums promotional efforts.
Sure, these concerns may be parochial, but are the other 61 counties’ assessments any less mixed? Plus, he hasn’t been in Otsego County for a public event since 2014 – and he was late, missing President Obama’s visit to the Hall.
Fuss as we might, Cuomo’s playing on a bigger field.
It’s instructive to revisit Jeffrey Toobin’s 2015 profile in the New Yorker, tellingly titled, “How
Andrew Cuomo Gets His Way.” (To read it, Google “cuomo”, “toobin” and “new yorker”.)
Toobin quotes an aide: “He is fixated on accomplishments and results. He’d always walk around the office saying he wanted to hear ‘-ed’ words from his staff – ‘completed,’ ‘filed,’ ‘accomplished’ – not ‘-ing’ words – ‘trying,’ ‘working,’ ‘hoping.’ ” That’s the Andrew Cuomo of the past month; gotta love it.
Cuomo’s a tough guy; always was, as the Toobin profile makes clear. As governor, enabled by authority granted in a 1927 Constitutional Convention that had atrophied, he re-seized control of the state-budget mechanism and bent the Senate and Assembly to his will.
Since, as we saw last year, the idea of rolling controversial measures into the single budget vote – take it or leave it – has become something of a scandal, pushing through such unpopular measures as the “Green Light” law and bail reform that prevents dangerous people from being held in custody, and crimping prosecutions.
And, if Cuomo were to run, the birth and death of the Moreland Commission, created to clean
up Albany’s ethics, and then disappearing as completely as Jimmy Hoffa, would certainly be resurrected.
This seems like a lot of negatives but – as did discredited back-bencher Winston Churchill as The Blitz began – Cuomo has emerged as the Man of the Hour. Besides, our best presidents – Jefferson, Jackson, FDR, LBJ – were no angels. Politics is not the seminary.
Under the administration of Donald John Trump, Americans have gotten used to decisiveness – in putting China on the defensive, renegotiating NAFTA, tightening the borders, pushing back on social issues.
Given Mark Andrew Cuomo’s steady leadership as COVID-19 savaged New York City and
Westchester and Nassau counties, it’s convincing: He can provide the decisiveness of the Trump
Era, without the fits and starts and provocations.
It’s hard to imagine Trump pushing Cuomo around on the campaign trail, the way he’s already mopping the floor with “Sleepy Joe” Biden.
If we agree that Trump can be improved upon, is Biden really what the nation needs? Reading his plan to retreat from sheltering in place and revive the economy published in the New York Times the other day – convene a panel of scientists and experts, etc., etc. – it just wasn’t up to the challenge.
Is there a path to nomination for Cuomo? If some primaries aren’t held, perhaps Biden will go to the Milwaukee convention without a majority. Perhaps Biden would agree to step aside. Perhaps – not wishing this, but being realistic – he will have to. Let the Democrats figure it out – it’s their party.
Adding to Cuomo’s electability:
The state’s Progressives have always rejected him, running primary challengers in 2014 and 2018, and sinking the Amazon deal – 25,000 high-end jobs in New York City, which would have been the jewel in his administration’s crown.
A Progressive ticket this fall? Joe Biden/Kamala Harris? That has disaster written all over it, particularly if it won. Let your imagination flow.
Andrew Cuomo, through an often successful, always innovative, energetic career in politics and public life, is ready to be president. He’s proved it since the March 13 State of Emergency. And, given the nation’s response to his leadership in the crisis, Americans are ready for him.