I LOVED MARIO
I was recently approached about the possibility of writing a biographical study, detailing the fall of Andrew Cuomo.
If you’ve never written a biography, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t easy. It is much easier to write a book about a person you like and, to put it mildly, I do not love Andrew Cuomo although I will admit that I do feel sorry for the guy.
I loved writing about Mario Cuomo because I loved Mario Cuomo. We only had one major difference of opinion and that was about Mario’s son, Andrew. Mario Cuomo was a people person. He was unique in that he was funny, engaging and he liked people. Most of all, he was very, very smart. Trying to keep up with him was damned near impossible. I can’t tell you the number of people who have told me that they would schedule their trips home from their weekend houses to New York City to hear the Capitol Connection and its star, Mario.
People liked him, too. They cheered for him and many New Yorkers would have liked to have seen him become president. The one question I was asked more than any other was why Mario didn’t run for president. After he gave that sterling address at the Democratic Convention and Walter Cronkite said that he would run for president, it seemed clear that he would one day be number one.
We’ll never really know why it didn’t happen. Some people suggested that there were suspect family connections, both on Mario’s side and Matilda Raffa Cuomo’s side. But there has never been a scintilla of evidence that Mario had any such mob connections. One day when I used the M word (as in Mafia) we were all treated to a lecture about how there was no such thing. The Daily News ran a headline that pointed out, “Yes, Mario, there is a Mafia.”
So it was fun to listen back to the hundreds of conversations I’d had with “the guv” and pick out the good parts. The book pretty much wrote itself.
Of course, I have done quite a few programs with Andrew. The material is there for a psychological treatment of the guy. The New York Times recently used a quotation from a radio conversation I had had with Andrew. When I asked him whether he was competing with his father’s legacy, he retorted that he didn’t believe the Freudian theory that he was competing with his father was valid. Of course, IF I were to write such a book about Andrew, you could bet that the relationship between the two Governors Cuomo would be a central theme of the book.
As I said, I really do feel badly for Andrew. Look, the guy never treated me well. He still maintains that most of what I wrote or said about him was negative. Since I do not believe in beating dead horses or politicians, I really would prefer not to write about Andrew in this time of his embarrassment and shame.
Andrew’s political opponents, particularly the ambitious Democrats in the state Assembly and Senate, are scared to death of the guy. They proclaim that that they are all for American democracy, but they are so scared of him that they want to proceed with an after the fact impeachment so that he would be prohibited from ever running again. Very democratic! The last thing they want is for Andrew to run again. For those who believe he couldn’t, because of his ill treatment of women, just take a look at the actions of one Donald Trump. Put another way, someone should give me the name of a person who could beat Andrew.
In any case, I don’t think I want to write a book about Andrew. Too sad.
Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].