Mario Cuomo was the best President we never had. He died today at the age of 82 and the Tweeter Tube exploded with expressions of regard and affection. I am absolutely convinced that he would have defeated Bill Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 1992 if he had run but he didn’t. It was our loss.
There was always something admirable about Cuomo’s self awareness when it came to a White House run. He knew that he wasn’t willing to crawl naked over broken glass and barbed wire to be elected. And that was, in Richard Ben Cramer’s memorable phrase, “what it takes.” Bill Clinton had that fanatical ambition but Mario was a better man. There, I said it. That’s why Clinton chose Mario to put his name in nomination in 1992. Once again, Clinton was a better politician but Cuomo was the better man.
I’m not the only one who will post Cuomo’s insanely brilliant and passionate 1984 keynote speech. It remains the best political speech of my lifetime as well as the best statement of what it is to be a liberal Democrat and proud of it. Here’s an excerpt from the Tale Of Two Cities speech: