Mario Cuomo Had the Most Divided Mind in Politics

tags: Mario Cuomo

Mario Cuomo, former three-term governer of New York, died Thursday at the age of 82. Journalist Sidney Blumenthal profiled the Democratic politician in 1991 as he was contemplating a presidential run, concluding that "the only institution in American politics more raucous and divided than the Democratic Party is Mario Cuomo's mind."

The political landscape is barren and windswept. A mournful silence reigns in the Democratic redoubts. If the Democratic primary were held in New Hampshire today, according to a recent poll, the winner would be George Bush. Up the Hudson River, in a soot-covered industrial town, within a neo-Gothic pile of five-foot-thick gray mason stones and red tile spires, is a chamber of dark, polished wood—the hallowed spot once occupied by Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the chair of the governor of New York sits a man with deep lines in his face.

Mario Cuomo is besieged. The recession, which has brought about a steep decline in state revenues, stretches unendingly before him. He must slash $6 billion to balance his budget. His embrace of austerity and his opposition to a progressive tax increase he thinks would only accelerate an exodus of business from his state have put him in painful conflict with his own famous principles. His popularity, along with all the other numbers, is falling fast, bottoming below 50 percent.

To be sure, the picture of a man alone, facing nothing but rising difficulties, is not without its consolations. It fits his self-image as the lonely avatar of virtue. What would be an impassable barrier to normal politicians might be, to him, an invitation.

But to those who tell him to run for president, Cuomo says routinely that he has no plans to make plans.

"Don't run," I say.

"Why?" replies Cuomo. "Why would you tell me don't run?" ...

Read entire article at The New Republic

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