New York is the real capital of the country
So how is Kathy Hochul doing as governor of New York? Turns out that she is doing okay. She did make a false step or two by rewarding her friends and in doing so, punishing her enemies which is not atypical for a new governor. But Hochul has avoided the sort of Cuomo machismo mistakes. She doesn’t beat her chest and proclaim her superiority. She appears to be a nice person and that sits well with her constituents. If she continues down that path, she will be successful in the traditional won or lost columns by which politicians are judged. The truth is, politicians are judged in the same way that we mere mortals judge each other. Do we like someone because they appear “nice?” Hochul wins in that category. I think that when politicians tick people off, it is often because they are perceived as pushing “too hard.” Maybe because Hochul is a woman, she has been able to avoid the usual accusations of doing that.
We often compare our politicians with those who came before them. Papa Cuomo was a nice man who tried his best to make people like and respect him. Junior Cuomo, not so much. For Andrew, personal success was about being “Tough Guy Andrew.” Mario, who I knew quite well, was a throwback to the old days when politicians were judged on their ability to deliver. They were considered successful if they could vanquish their political enemies. Andrew was actually pretty successful at that. His greatest failure was in recruiting people who could get him into trouble. It is my impression that he is trying to get back into the game and, if you will, into the winner’s circle. Right now, though, I don’t think he’s getting anywhere.
If you are governor of New York, the next logical step is to run for president of the country. There was a time when governors of New York were expected to take that next step and run for the top job. That certainly was the expectation for the Cuomos. Mario probably failed at that for bad reasons. Number one on that list was completely ridiculous — the fact that he was Italian was held against him by too many people and while he should have been a top presidential candidate, he never made it to that list. Both Mario and Andrew proved that they could be excellent governors and administrators but they didn’t turn that success around and make it work for them as possible presidential candidates.
New Yorkers elected both men but the problem is the rest of the country. Part of that was the fact that a lot of the country simply doesn’t like New York. Maybe the rest of the country is just plain jealous. It really doesn’t take much to ferret that out when you speak with non-New Yorkers about the Empire State. It is jealousy and competitiveness that makes the rest of the country so testy about New York.
That is fairly easy to understand. New York is the real capital of the country. Just turn your TV on and you’ll have immediate proof of that. In fact, the only real competition New York has in the power sweepstakes is California and Washington. The television shows that we watch prove it. Take a look at which politicians are the most powerful. Senator Schumer is the top dog in the United States Senate. He is he “go to” guy among Democrats in this country and to a large degree he is the one who is calling the shots.
You will recall when I told you that the macho Cuomos were super powerful in the political class. I know for sure that Andrew is trying to get back into the game. It seems futile for him to try but he will keep on trying.
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].