Independent’s Eye by Joe Gandelman
Will Andrew Cuomo run for President in 2016? The conventional wisdom is suggesting just that due to the New York Governor’s leadership in achieving his state’s same sex marriage law – an achievement that turned Cuomo into the political Justin Bieber of Democratic Party liberals.
The narrative took on such a frenzied life that the New York Post reported Cuomo ordered his staff not to speculate and not to appear on talk shows because it would distract from his job and he has “seen this dance before” with his father Mario in 1992. But he won’t definitively rule out a run.
The conventional wisdom – that group-think journalistic mechanism that in May insisted Obama’s re-election chances were greatly enhanced by the killing of Osama bin Laden – kicked in hours after the law’s passage.
Time declared the law’s passage “a powerful example of the kind of power a governor can wield when he fully commits himself to a legislative goal.” The New York Times said the vote showed “how a Democratic governor, himself a Catholic, who used the force of his personality and relentlessly strategic mind to persuade conflicted lawmakers to take a historic leap.” The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza noted that “political strategists are forever looking toward the future and the next big thing – and Cuomo made a claim to that title by guiding passage of the same-sex-marriage legislation through the Republican-controlled state Senate.”
Liberal blogs were ecstatic, noting the assertive contrast with you-know-who in the White House. The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd said the nuanced Obama was “letting Cuomo… go down in history as the leader on the front lines of the civil rights issue of our time” and was politically “binary.” Nate Silver conjured up images of LBJ.
Longtime Democratic strategist Bob Shrum noted in “The Week” Obama’s need to “evolve” on gay marriage and wrote: “If you’re old enough, you may find a use for those “Cuomo for President” buttons from the 80s and 90s… It’s true that Cuomo captured this moment, but he also made it.”
This hype isn’t without merit. I’ve long believed Cuomo would a major player. Just as George W. Bush seemed determined not to make the errors he believed his dad made, Andrew Cuomo seems determined not to make his dad’s mistake of dithering forever. Mario Cuomo’s elusive moment came in 1992 when he was a hot political property and agonized so much over running for President that he was called “Hamlet on the Hudson.” Prediction: this Cuomo won’t miss a beat.
Still, New York’s unemployment rate is holding at 7.9 percent and comparing Cuomo to Obama is like comparing Sweden to the U.S. insofar as size and complexity of issues. Cuomo faces various political tar pit issues. Nor is Cuomo a saint: former New York Mayor Ed Koch blamed Andrew Cuomo for the “Vote for Cuomo not the homo” campaign against him when Mario Cuomo ran against Koch for New York Mayor in 1977. Also: 21st century media and political constraints facing Presidents are far greater than Governors face — and more than LBJ faced.
In 2008 Obama was a blank slate upon which many voters visualized what they wanted. Now many feel reality hasn’t matched perceptions. Cuomo’s role clearly defines him in media eyes as a winner and spurs on the present conventional wisdom.
But conventional wisdom can shift quickly. Inoperative conventional wisdom can be discreetly swept under the rug. Just ask Barack Obama.
Copyright 2011 Joe Gandelman
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN’s John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be booked to speak at your event at www.mavenproductions.com.