by Reid Fitzsimons
On election night 1982 I was in my 1974 Datsun pick-up truck pulled over to the side of the road outside of Lake Placid, NY, listening to the returns. I was just about to start my first job as a Physician Assistant (PA) at a nearby Federal Prison. Being frugal by nature and not excessively wealthy, my hotel that night was the back of the pick-up. The big race was for the Governor of NY, pitting the Lieutenant Governor Mario Cuomo against zillionaire Lewis Lehrman. Cuomo shared the biography of many, if not most, politicians: college, law school, law practice, politics. Lehrman was born rich but his life has been (he’s still around) multifaceted, interesting, and reasonably accomplished, plus he’s not a lawyer (Cuomo’s parents were “penniless” immigrants from Italy but it seems had reasonable success with a grocery store in Queens). Cuomo won in a pretty close contest and thus began his long run as Governor of NY (and my mostly continuous 25-year run as a resident of the NY and the Adirondack Mountains).
Cuomo became a darling of the left (A “Liberal Beacon” proclaimed the NY Times in his 2015 obituary), but like many spineless politicians he tried to be two things at once- specifically a Catholic in good standing and ardent pro-abortionist. And he generally succeeded, at least politically (doubtful in regards to Christian salvation, going to Heaven and all that), but NY voters lead the way in hearing only what they want to hear. The basic spiel is this: “I’m personally opposed to abortion (usually abortion but it can be other topics as well) but I can’t force my beliefs on others.” This reasoning has always sounded vacuous and cowardly to me, but seems to be a mainstay of modern US politics. At times I’ve yearned to hear a candidate say something like, “I am personally opposed to abortion and the voters should know that about me, and I’d be glad to discuss the basis of my belief.” In other words, a credible person stands up for his or her beliefs, whereas Mario Cuomo demonstrated his cowardice as he ejaculated from both sides of his mouth: “I’m personally opposed to abortion but (essentially) will do everything in my power to facilitate and promote abortion.”
At least two ironies can be said of Mario Cuomo. First, he was personally opposed to the death penalty and as Governor he did force his belief on others by vetoing capital a punishment bill, but that wasn’t terribly difficult politically. Second, based upon statements by his son, current Governor of NY Andrew, the elder Cuomo would no longer be welcome in NY because any opposition to abortion, even pretend, is not to be tolerated in his progressive utopia.
So why does Mario Cuomo rate my time writing this, or the time of anyone who might read this? The answer is found in person of Tim Kaine, the white bread politician recently named as Hillary Clinton’s pick for Vice President. He is the latest incarnation of Mario Cuomo- a “devout” Catholic personally opposed to abortion but somehow he receives two thumbs up from the largest provider of abortions in America, Planned Parenthood. Like Cuomo, his biography is the same old- college, law school, law practice, politics. To his credit, 35 years ago he did stand out from this nothingness in that, while in his early 20s, he spent nine months volunteering at a (Catholic operated) school in Honduras. As I have quite a bit invested in do-gooding in Honduras I can appreciate this. It doesn’t qualify him to be President, but it’s better than no meaningful life accomplishment, as epitomized by the senior candidate, Hillary Clinton. If Tim Kaine left politics right now and went to volunteer in Honduras for a couple of years, living with few modern comforts, I would be impressed.
It is probably accurate to say we have, in 2016, the sorriest candidates for President in US history. But we are a selfish, greedy, materialistic, and stupid electorate. Character and integrity take too much work and effort in our own lives so why should we expect it in our elected leaders? Tim Kaine, as the Vice-Presidential candidate on the Democrat ticket, continues the tradition of spinelessness we have come to expect, and even demand.