Mario Cuomo and that speech

If you're under a certain age -- we'll let you draw that line wherever you want -- it might be a little hard to get a feel for the place Mario Cuomo occupied in American politics, and why his passing has been such a noted event. Sure, there are the facts -- three-term governor, almost presidential candidate, Andrew's dad, and so on. But a person's place in history -- on a national level, or even in a neighborhood -- is more than just the sum of their facts.

Mario's Cuomo's famous speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention helps fill that out. It was a jab at then-president Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party, and a declaration of what Cuomo believed the Democratic Party should represent. A video clip is embedded above. Here's the full text. And here's some background on the speech, which involved both Andrew Cuomo and Tim Russert. [NYDN]

Over at Medium, Doug Garr wrote about what it was like to work for Mario Cuomo as a speechwriter between 1992 and 1994:

On Sunday night, one of his speechwriting aides called me. My current draft, in short, was woefully inadequate. (Looking back, I knew he was not at his happiest when he had to address a group where maybe only 10 people had voted for him. Bankers certainly weren't his base.) I was read the marginal comments, none of them good. Then he laughed and said, do you want to hear what he wrote on the last page? Yes, shoot. "This isn't an ending. This is a collapse." I didn't laugh until he told me that he took the brunt of the Governor's wrath that afternoon, when Cuomo threw the pages up in the air and exclaimed, "Can't anybody write a simple, declarative sentence any more? Get me a fucking nun." This referred to his Catholic grammar education and the how he learned to write in parochial school. From then on, we called this the "get me a fucking nun" speech.

Comments

This speech is soaring and inspirational. Sadly, the same words are even more relevant in 2015. Also sadly, the apple sometimes does fall far from the tree.

KM@ -- unfortunately I think Andrew has the faults of his father in magnified form (arrogance, spite) without Mario's exemplary traits (compassion, intellectual acumen).

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