Thingish Things

The Temptation of Gov. Cuomo

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Nov• 13•12

Who would’ve thought that the Liberal Party candidate for governor in 2002 would be the last line of defense against the public employee unions and catastrophic overspending in New York in 2012?

But that’s exactly what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is today — the last grown-up standing in Albany, if the Republicans in the State Senate fail to cobble together a working majority.
The only thing between New York and out-of-control California is this governor, and the only thing between California and bankruptcy is time. New York’s Medicaid and pension costs, and its brutally high taxes, will take this state down if left unchecked.

You couldn’t hope for a more perfect protagonist in a political drama: People fear Andrew Cuomo. He’s brilliant and ruthless — the type of leader Machiavelli had in mind when he wrote “The Prince.” It is better to be feared than loved, indeed.

But Gov. Cuomo is feared and liked by Democrats and Republicans in New York. His voter approval rating routinely approaches or exceeds 70 percent. That gives him a strong bully pulpit.

But all is not perfect for this showdown. The governor’s supposed presidential ambitions could be his kryptonite.

Who can forget that airplane idling latently on the Albany tarmac in December 1991? Andrew Cuomo certainly cannot.

It was to be the plane ride to New Hampshire, the launch of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo‘s presidential campaign. And then the engines stopped.

One can only wonder what effect the silencing of those turbines had on Mario Cuomo‘s son and trusted political adviser. Long-shot philanderer Bill Clinton was instead elected president that year, at the fortuitous advent of one of the nation’s biggest economic booms. Mario Cuomo, the scholarly son of Italian immigrants, the deserving one, came that close to the golden ring of politics, only to let it slip away.

And now, two decades later, that political adviser — today’s Gov. Cuomo — is one of the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. It’s almost Shakespearean.

Standing between him and the nomination, though, are public employee union leaders who can make or break Democratic presidential aspirants — the same union bosses who have been trying to stall the governor’s Albany reform agenda for the past two years.

The rest of this column is available at Newsday.  Thanks for reading!

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