After he was elected governor in 1982, Mario Cuomo remarked: “You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose.”
Cuomo had extraordinary oratorical skills and his rhetoric was somewhat poetic. Everyone over 55 remembers his stirring, mesmerizing speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention.
Cuomo’s poetry, however, did not have a lasting effect. The American people preferred President Reagan’s governing prose and he was re-elected carrying 49 of the 50 states.
Similarly, Cuomo’s New York poetry did not convert into successful prose.
Norman Adler, a former Cuomo consultant, put it this way: “He will be remembered more for himself than for what he left behind. Really fine public rhetoric done of aspiration not achievement. Mario Cuomo could never match his words. It wasn’t possible.”
Which brings me to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s poetry and prose.
During the 2022 campaign Hochul’s oratorical poetry did not come close to matching Mario Cuomo’s verse. For that matter she didn’t even match Andrew Cuomo, who defines oratory as shouting at the top of one’s lungs.
Hochul will be remembered for two ridiculous comments she made last fall.
The first was her message to those who disagreed with her extremist pro-abortion position: “Just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong, OK? Get out of town. Because you don’t represent our values.”
The other clunky statement concerned crime. In her debate with Republican opponent Lee Zeldin, Hochul dismissed his tough law-and-order stand saying, “I don’t know why [crime] is so important to you.”
Hochul made that statement to a man who was assaulted and whose family experienced a gang shooting outside their Long Island home.
Hochul’s governing prose is as awful as her campaign poetry.
There was not one memorable line in her Jan. 1, 2023, inaugural address.
Hochul’s State of the State address, delivered to the combined houses of the Legislature on Jan. 10, 2023, was not much better.
She did throw a bone to the 47% of the electorate who voted against her by conceding that the “bail reform law as written now leaves room for improvement.”
Yet the governor’s declaration, that she “will work with the Legislature to make thoughtful changes in bail law … consistent with the spirit behind its original passage in order to restore the confidence in our criminal justice system” is merely hollow rhetoric.
Let’s face it, Hochul is a weak chief executive. She does not have the mettle to take on the “defund the police” Democratic-controlled Legislature, which has made clear it will not roll back any of its failed criminal justice reforms and, for the first time in the state’s history, rejected a governor’s nominee for chief judge of the Court of Appeals.
A significant portion of Hochul’s address was devoted to housing.
The governor made it clear that if suburban counties (i.e., Nassau) fail to liberalize zoning laws—particularly around railroad stations—to permit more multifamily housing, the state will intervene and override local codes and impose on municipalities targets to increase the housing stock.
Fortunately, New York’s congressional Republicans have been blowing the whistle on this plan.
Arguing that the Hochul approach will “eliminate home-rule altogether,” Congressman Nick Langworthy (R-Olean) said, “Our local governments are already drowning under the unfunded mandates and dictates from the state—the absolute last thing we should be doing is adding to their burden with this wrongheaded and unconstitutional plan.”
In conjunction with her speech, Hochul released a 276-page State of the State book, “Achieving the New York Dream.”
As for the book’s prose, it is an ad nauseum compendium of every leftwing proposal imaginable.
Hochul’s belief that her “Dream” formulas on housing, health care, the environment, public safety, education, et cetera, will make “New York safer [and] make New York more affordable” is ludicrous.
If implemented, I predict even more overtaxed New Yorkers will pack their bags and drive down to Florida.
As for the cost of these pie-in-the-sky programs, they are buried in Hochul’s record-breaking $227 billion proposed budget, which calls for higher taxes.
But more on the prose of Hochul’s State budget in my next column.