The American people lost a lion today with the passing of Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York. Though I've learned a lot about him over the last 20 years, my personal memories of Mario Cuomo are slim. Primarily, I remember Cuomo as the baggy-eyed, sour-puss who left two planes waiting on the runway on the last day to register for the 1992 Democratic primary. Rather then flying to New Hampshire to file papers, he announced that he would stay in New York to settle a budget inbroglio.
“It seems to me I cannot turn my attention to New Hampshire while this threat hangs over the head of the New Yorkers that I’ve sworn to put first,” he said in a news conference clip that I remember seeing on the evening news.
After Cuomo balked, my father speculated that there were skeletons in his closet. Perhaps a woman, or a gambling problem. I think he was just frightened. Mario Cuomo always saw himself as an ethnic from Queens with a funny last name. (In fact, watching old clips of him now, he seems like someone the Law and Order producers would hire to play the part of an ethnic NY governor.) Despite finishing first in his law school class he was not hired by a white shoe firm, and four years earlier another ethnic Democrat with a funny last name from the Northeast had gotten his butt whipped in a presidential election. Mario skipped the race because he didn't want to lose.
Anyway, on his death day rather then rehashing Mario Cuomo's lowest political moment, let's enjoy the man at his finest. I'm too young to remember seeing this on television, but I've read about it many times, and a few years ago I finally went searching for the video. It's Mario Cuomo delivering the keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention and quite frankly, kicking St. Ronald Reagan's ass.
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