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Mario Cuomo


In office
January 1, 1983 – December 31, 1994
Lieutenant Alfred DelBello (1983–1985)
Warren Anderson (1985–1986)
Stan Lundine (1987–1994)
Preceded by Hugh L. Carey
Succeeded by George E. Pataki

In office
January 1, 1979 – December 31, 1982
Preceded by Mary Anne Krupsak
Succeeded by Alfred DelBello

In office
January 1, 1975 – December 31, 1978
Preceded by John J. Ghezzi
Succeeded by Basil Paterson

Born June 15, 1932 (1932-06-15) (age 77)
Queens, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Matilda Cuomo
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic
Signature

Mario Matthew Cuomo (pronounced /ˈkwoʊmoʊ/; born June 15, 1932) served as the 52nd Governor of the state of New York from 1983 to 1994. Cuomo became nationally known for his keynote speech[1] at the 1984 Democratic National Convention and the subsequent speculation over the next decade that he might run for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States.

Contents

Early life

He was born in the New York City borough of Queens to a family of Italian origin. His father, Andrea Cuomo, was from Nocera Inferiore, Italy, and his mother Immacolata was from Tramonti. The family owned a store in South Jamaica, Queens in New York City. Cuomo attended P.S. 50 and later earned his bachelor's degree in 1953 and law degree in 1956 from St. John's University, graduating first in his class[2]. When he and the salutatorian (the late St. John's Law Dean Patrick Rohan) were summoned to the dean's office (Reverend Joseph T. Tinnelly) at the end of the year, he was asked what field he plans on going into after graduation.[citation needed] Cuomo responded that he would like to be a trial lawyer. Consequently, he was sent to clerk for the Honorable Judge Adrian P. Burke of the New York Court of Appeals[3]. Additionally, he was signed and played baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system until he was injured when a ball hit his head, and subsequently became a scout for the team.

Political career

He first became a household name in and around New York City in the late 1960s when he represented residents of Queens' Forest Hills section when they opposed the construction of a public-housing development in that neighborhood, which has a high per-capita income and is famous for being the site of the Forest Hills Tennis Center.

Governor Cuomo speaking at a rally in 1991

In 1974, he was the Democratic Party designee for Lieutenant Governor of New York but was defeated in the primary election by Mary Anne Krupsak. He was appointed Secretary of State of New York by Governor Hugh Carey in January 1975. He also favored the prison industrial complex, building 18 private prisons in upstate New York.

Cuomo was defeated by Ed Koch in the 1977 Democratic primary for the New York City mayoral election after being nominated by the Liberal Party. Cuomo was also defeated by Koch in the general election.

Cuomo was elected Lieutenant Governor with Governor Carey in 1978. He was elected Governor in 1982, defeating Koch in the 1982 Democratic primary and Republican businessman Lewis Lehrman in the general election. Cuomo was re-elected in 1986 and 1990 .

Cuomo gave the keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, and media reports speculated during several presidential election campaigns that he might run for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States, but Cuomo always declined to run. Perhaps the closest he came to running was in 1992, when he kept an airplane waiting on the tarmac as he decided whether to fly to New Hampshire to enter that state's primary.[4] He was also spoken of as a candidate for nomination to the United States Supreme Court, but when President Bill Clinton was considering nominees during his first term to replace the retiring Byron White, Cuomo stated he was not interested in the office.[5] Because of Cuomo's refusal to take up the party's banner for national office despite his popularity within the liberal wing of the Democratic party during the 1980s and 1990s, his name has in some circles become a metaphor for a reluctant political leader, the "Hamlet on the Hudson".[6]

Mario Cuomo after a lecture at Baldwin-Wallace College, September 10, 2007

In 1994, Cuomo ran for a fourth term. In this election, Republicans attacked him for his opposition to the death penalty by highlighting the case of Arthur Shawcross (a multiple murderer convicted of manslaughter who was paroled from New York in 1987 and on release became a serial killer). Republicans were able to associate Shawcross with Cuomo much like Willie Horton with Michael Dukakis six years earlier.

Cuomo was defeated by George Pataki in the 1994 Republican landslide that also unseated Texas Governor Ann Richards, and brought a Republican majority to the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. Cuomo and Richards appeared in a series of humorous television commercial for the snack food Doritos shortly afterward, in which they discussed the "sweeping changes" occurring. The changes they are discussing turn out to be the new Doritos packaging.[7]

Political views

Cuomo is notable for his liberal political views, particularly his steadfast opposition to the death penalty, an opinion that was unpopular in New York during the high crime era of the 1980s and early '90s. While governor, he vetoed several bills that would have re-established capital punishment in New York State (the death penalty was in fact reinstated by Pataki the year after he defeated Cuomo in the 1994 election, although it was never put into effect and its statute declared unconstitutional by the New York Court of Appeals in 2004).

Cuomo is pro-choice on abortion. In a speech at Notre Dame on Sept. 13, 1984, he used the statements of the American Catholic hierarchy to argue "that what is ideally desirable isn't always feasible, that there can be different political approaches to abortion besides unyielding adherence to an absolute prohibition."[8]

He has also been outspoken on what he perceives to be the unfair stereotyping of Italian-Americans. Cuomo also opposed the move of the National Football League's New York Giants and New York Jets to the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, choosing instead to attend the home games of the Buffalo Bills while serving as governor, referring to the Bills as "New York State's only team." Cuomo is a strong proponent of social welfare. He has acted as lawyer for progressive filmmaker Michael Moore.[citation needed]

Family and personal life

Cuomo's elder son, Andrew Cuomo, was married to Kerry Kennedy (divorced in 2003), a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel. He served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton from 1997–2001. In an attempt to succeed his father, he ran as Democratic candidate for New York Governor in 2002 but withdrew before the primary after criticizing Republican incumbent George Pataki's leadership after the terrorist attacks on the city on 9/11 the previous year. He remained on the ballot as Liberal Party candidate but did not campaign, instead endorsing Democratic nominee Carl McCall in the general election, and received only a very small percentage of the vote as Pataki was re-elected. In November 2006, Andrew Cuomo was elected New York State Attorney General, replacing Eliot Spitzer, who was elected Governor of New York.

Cuomo's younger son, Chris Cuomo, is a journalist on the ABC Network newsmagazine Primetime and anchors news segments and serves as co-host on Good Morning America. He was picked as one of People Magazine's 50 Sexiest People in 1997.

Cuomo's daughter, Maria Cuomo Cole, is married to Kenneth Cole, the famous New York fashion designer.

Cuomo is an avid player of fantasy baseball. He always has an Italian player on his team, regardless of how many Italian players are available or how well they are doing.[9]

Cuomo is the author of Why Lincoln Matters (2004) and sits on the Advisory Council of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

In 1996, he wrote Reason to Believe. He also wrote a narrative essay entitled "Achieving the American Dream" about his parents struggles coming to America and how they prospered.

At its 1983 commencement ceremonies, Barnard College awarded Cuomo its highest honor, the Barnard Medal of Distinction.

Cuomo is currently of counsel at the New York law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ Audio recording and transcription of 1984 DNC speech
  2. ^ Heard from Prof. Patrick Rohan; April 23, 2009
  3. ^ ibid.
  4. ^ Gitell, Sam. "New Hampshire Factor." New York Sun, 26 September 2006. Joe Klein's roman à clef Primary Colors depicts a fictionalized Cuomo's uncertainty on whether to run.
  5. ^ Sack, Kevin. "CUOMO ANNOUNCES HE IS NOT SEEKING SEAT ON HIGH COURT." The New York Times, April 8, 1993. George Stephanopoulos wrote in 1999 that Clinton came within 15 minutes of nominating Cuomo before the latter preemptively rejected the post.[1]
  6. ^ The Economist. "Mario Cuomo, Hamlet on the Hudson"
  7. ^ Doritos Advert. "[2]"
  8. ^ Mario Cuomo, "Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective: Remarks delivered at the University of Notre Dame"
  9. ^ Walker, Sam: "Fantasyland: A Season on Baseball's Lunatic Fringe" Viking, 2006
  10. ^ http://www.willkie.com/MarioCuomo

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
John J. Ghezzi
Secretary of State of New York
1975 - 1978
Succeeded by
Basil Paterson
Preceded by
Mary Anne Krupsak
Lieutenant Governor of New York
1979 - 1982
Succeeded by
Alfred DelBello
Preceded by
Hugh L. Carey
Governor of New York
1983 - 1994
Succeeded by
George Pataki
Party political offices
Preceded by
Albert Blumenthal
Liberal Nominee for Mayor of New York City
(lost)

1977
Succeeded by
Mary Codd
Preceded by
Mo Udall
Keynote Speaker at the Democratic National Convention
1984
Succeeded by
Ann Richards
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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship, to the reality, the hard substance of things.

Mario Matthew Cuomo (born June 15, 1932) is an American lawyer and New York State Democratic Party politician. He was the 52nd Governor of New York (1983-1995).

Contents

Sourced

We believe in a government strong enough to use words like "love" and "compassion" and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities.
  • It was anticipating self-defense.
    • On why he once hit a catcher in the face mask while playing minor league baseball, CBS TV (December 30, 1984)
  • You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.
  • The mugger who is arrested is back on the street before the police officer, but the person mugged may not be back on the street for a long time, if ever.
    • Calling for hiring of more police
    • The New Republic (April 4, 1985)
  • When you’ve parked the second car in the garage, and installed the hot tub, and skied in Colorado, and wind-surfed in the Caribbean, when you’ve had your first love affair and your second and your third, the question will remain, where does the dream end for me?
    • Commencement address at Syracuse University, quoted in New York Times (May 12, 1986)
  • I’d say, “That’s it, Charlie, you’re going to be by yourself for a hundred years.”
  • I talk and talk and talk, and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week.
  • If you can manipulate news, a judge can manipulate the law. A smart lawyer can keep a killer out of jail, a smart accountant can keep a thief from paying taxes, a smart reporter could ruin your reputation — unfairly.
  • I told them that my grandfather had died in the Great Crash of 1929 — a stockbroker jumped out of a window and crushed him and his pushcart down below.
  • Lincoln isn’t a man with ingrown toenails, he’s an idea.
    • On reading a biography of Lincoln that “showed me the warts”
    • New York Times (September 14, 1986)
  • Every time I've done something that doesn't feel right, it's ended up not being right.
    • As quoted in In God's Care : Daily Meditations on Spirituality in Recovery (1991) by James Jennings and Karen Casey
  • People expect Byzantine, Machiavellian logic from politicians. But the truth is simple. Trial lawyers learn a good rule: 'Don't decide what you don't have to decide.' That's not evasion, it's wisdom.
    • As quoted in The Quotable Politician (2003) by William B. Whitman, p. 25
  • There are few things more amusing in the world of politics than watching moderate Republicans charging to the right in pursuit of greater glory.
    • As quoted in The Nastiest Things Ever Said about Republicans (2006) by Martin Higgins, p. 131

Address at Iona College (1984)

Commencement Address at Iona College (3 June 1984), as quoted in Lend Me Your Ears Great Speeches in History (1992) by William Safire, p. 932-936
  • Most of us have achieved levels of affluence and comfort unthought of two generations ago.
    We've never had it so good, most of us.
    Nor have we ever complained so bitterly about our problems.

    The closed circle of materialism is clear to us now — aspirations become wants, wants become needs, and self-gratification becomes a bottomless pit.
    All around us we have seen success in the world's terms become ultimate and desperate failure.
  • Entertainers and sports figures achieve fame and wealth but find the world empty and dull without the solace and stimulation of drugs.
  • Tell me, ladies and gentlemen, are we the ones to tell them what their instructors have tried to teach them for years? That the philosophers were right.
    That Saint Francis, Buddha, Muhammad, Maimonides — all spoke the truth when they said the only way to serve yourself is to serve others; and that Aristotle was right, before them, when he said the only way to assure yourself happiness is to learn to give happiness.
  • How simple it seems now. We thought the Sermon on the Mount was a nice allegory and nothing more. What we didn't understand until we got to be a little older was that it was the whole answer, the whole truth. That the way — the only way — to succeed and to be happy is to learn those rules so basic that a shepherd's son could teach them to an ignorant flock without notes or formulae.
  • Do we have the right now to tell them that when Saint Francis begged the Lord to teach him to want to console instead of seeking to be consoled — to teach him to want to love instead of desiring to be loved — that he was really being selfish? Because he knew the only way to be fulfilled and pleased and happy was to give instead of trying to get.
  • How do we tell them that one not be discouraged by the imperfection of the world and the inevitability of death and diminishment. How do we tell them when they lose a child, or are crippled, or know that they will themselves die too soon — that God permits pain and sickness and unfairness and evil to exist, only in order to permit us to test our mettle and to earn a fulfillment that would otherwise not be possible?
  • How can we tell our children that — when we have ourselves so often cried out in bitter despair at what we regarded to be the injustice of life — and when we have so often surrendered?
  • Do you blame me, ladies and gentlemen, for being reluctant to deliver to them the message that is traditional on commencement day?
  • I've been taking a closer look at these graduates. They are actually taller, stronger, smarter than we were, smart enough maybe to take our mistakes as their messages, to make our weaknesses their lessons, and to make our example — good and not so good — part of their education.
  • Indeed, as I think about it, I have to conclude that these young people before me today are the best reason for hope that this world knows.
  • I would like to tell them, the graduates, all of this, and I know that if we thought they would not be embarrassed by hearing it, we would all be telling them about how proud we are of them and how much we believe in them and their future. But again maybe we don't have to tell them; maybe they know. Maybe they can tell just by seeing the love in our eyes today.

Democratic National Convention Address (1984)

Democratic National Convention Keynote Address (16 July 1984)
  • We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship, to the reality, the hard substance of things. And we'll do it not so much with speeches that sound good as with speeches that are good and sound; not so much with speeches that will bring people to their feet as with speeches that will bring people to their senses.
  • We believe in only the government we need, but we insist on all the government we need.
    We believe in a government that is characterized by fairness and reasonableness, a reasonableness that goes beyond labels, that doesn't distort or promise to do things that we know we can't do.
    We believe in a government strong enough to use words like "love" and "compassion" and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities.
    We believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher order.
  • We believe as Democrats, that a society as blessed as ours, the most affluent democracy in the world's history, one that can spend trillions on instruments of destruction, ought to be able to help the middle class in its struggle, ought to be able to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute. And we proclaim as loudly as we can the utter insanity of nuclear proliferation and the need for a nuclear freeze, if only to affirm the simple truth that peace is better than war because life is better than death.
  • We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another's pain, sharing one another's blessings — reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation.
  • We believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another, that the problems of a retired school teacher in Duluth are our problems; that the future of the child — that the future of the child in Buffalo is our future; that the struggle of a disabled man in Boston to survive and live decently is our struggle; that the hunger of a woman in Little Rock is our hunger; that the failure anywhere to provide what reasonably we might, to avoid pain, is our failure.
  • I watched a small man with thick calluses on both hands work fifteen and sixteen hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example.
    • About his father

Religious Belief and Public Morality (1984)

"Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor's Perspective", speech, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana (September 9, 1984)
  • I can offer you no final truths, complete and unchallengeable. But it's possible this one effort will provoke other efforts — both in support and contradiction of my position — that will help all of us understand our differences and perhaps even discover some basic agreement.
    In the end, I'm convinced we will all benefit if suspicion is replaced by discussion, innuendo by dialogue; if the emphasis in our debate turns from a search for talismanic criteria and neat but simplistic answers to an honest — more intelligent — attempt at describing the role religion has in our public affairs, and the limits placed on that role.
    And if we do it right — if we're not afraid of the truth even when the truth is complex — this debate, by clarification, can bring relief to untold numbers of confused — even anguished — Catholics, as well as to many others who want only to make our already great democracy even stronger than it is.
  • I protect my right to be a Catholic by preserving your right to believe as a Jew, a Protestant, or non-believer, or as anything else you choose.
    We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might some day force theirs on us.

    This freedom is the fundamental strength of our unique experiment in government. In the complex interplay of forces and considerations that go into the making of our laws and policies, its preservation must be a pervasive and dominant concern.
  • Almost all Americans accept some religious values as a part of our public life. We are a religious people, many of us descended from ancestors who came here expressly to live their religious faith free from coercion or repression. But we are also a people of many religions, with no established church, who hold different beliefs on many matters.
    Our public morality, then — the moral standards we maintain for everyone, not just the ones we insist on in our private lives — depends on a consensus view of right and wrong. The values derived from religious belief will not — and should not — be accepted as part of the public morality unless they are shared by the pluralistic community at large, by consensus.
    That those values happen to be religious values does not deny them acceptability as a part of this consensus. But it does not require their acceptability, either.
  • I think it's already apparent that a good part of this Nation understands — if only instinctively — that anything which seems to suggest that God favors a political party or the establishment of a state church, is wrong and dangerous.
    Way down deep the American people are afraid of an entangling relationship between formal religions — or whole bodies of religious belief — and government. Apart from constitutional law and religious doctrine, there is a sense that tells us it's wrong to presume to speak for God or to claim God's sanction of our particular legislation and His rejection of all other positions. Most of us are offended when we see religion being trivialized by its appearance in political throw-away pamphlets.
    The American people need no course in philosophy or political science or church history to know that God should not be made into a celestial party chairman.

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