Governor Cuomo: Machiavellian, Presidential, or Both?

The rumors began only a few weeks before the Democratic National Convention, New York State Governor Cuomo’s national popularity numbers were off the chart. Cuomo consistently maintained he had no interest in any other office; however, every one of his press conference was a mixture of science and FDR like fireside chats. New York State has continued to “flatten the curve,” and far beyond. Businesses were opening, within strict guidelines, the state economy recovering, the governor appointed an Emergency Financial Control Board in New York City, effectively replacing the mayor and the council. Cuomo has met with Trump more than any other governor his daily press conferences paint a pathway to a national recovery, a trillion dollar infrastructure plan.

 With Cuomo polling number soaring Trump tweeted, “If I wasn’t running I’d vote for my friend Governor Cuomo.”

 While the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the Bernie and Warren supporters oppose Cuomo Republican voters see him as a middle of the road candidate. Cuomo’s statement, “We are neither blue nor red, neither Republican nor Democrat, we are all Americans,” has become the cry of a vast majority of voters across the nation

 The Convention selected Governor Cuomo as the Democratic candidate for the presidency by acclimation.

 I don’t think my little vignette will come to pass …. however …

Politics in New York State has always been rough and tumble. In 1866, a Surrogate wrote: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”

The originally part time legislature met in Albany for a few days a week from January to June, most legislators had other jobs. The legislature was dominated by the “three men in a room,” the governor and the leaders of both houses. Slowly the legislature became a full time job, although until recently the salary ($79,500 per year) did not attract many possible candidates (The salary was increased a few years ago to $120,000)

One of the three men was Sheldon Silver, the leader of the Assembly, the others the Governor and the Senate leader were Republicans. Silver was masterful in extracting concessions from Republicans and ruled his members with an iron fist. Read one of my blogs comparing Silver to Cardinal Richelieu.

If you give me six lines written by the most honest man I will find something in them to hang him.

Cardinal Richelieu

Silver’s power to threaten, intimidate and coerce ended with his conviction in federal court.

There is now one man in a room: Governor Cuomo.

I suspect on Governor’s Cuomo night table you might find a copy of Machiavelli’s “The Prince.”

The word Machiavellian has unsavory overtones, cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics; I disagree.

Machiavelli was a 16th philosopher/political scientist who wrote a guidebook intended for his patron, Lorenzo d’Medici

Spend a few minutes watching a superb u-tube explaining the impact of Machiavelli on today’s politics and business.

A few quotes from “The Prince,”

“The vulgar crowd is always taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.”

  “If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”

 “A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it.”

Philip Bobbitt, a constitutional scholar, sees Machiavelli as a clear-sighted prophet of a new constitutional order with its basis in the union of strategy and law”.

This new kind of state could,… be regarded as entirely separate from the people who temporarily acted as its custodians. And the preservation of the state might require its custodians to act in ways that conflict with traditional ethical principles. … Machiavelli had a sense of the state as a constitutional entity which must be preserved at all costs. The imperative to preserve the state, and with it the public good, could justify many deeds traditionally regarded as immoral, 

And Cuomo, might see himself as “preserving the state, with it the public good,” following the guidebook of his ancestor.

Cuomo’s treatment of de Blasio was certainly Machiavellian.

In 2013 de Blasio was the first democrat elected as mayor of New York City in twenty years, and, under his leadership the city thrived.

The Cuomo v deBlasio battle has been epic, at every opportunity Cuomo undercut, belittled, embarrassed de Blasio, after all, there is only one throne.

A few days ago de Blasio floated the city borrowing to reduce the looming deficit – an action requiring state approval, Cuomo immediately demurred, the bill has passed both houses of the legislature and requires the governor’s approval.

If the mayor and the council cannot agree on a balanced budget by July 1 the city’s finances will default to a gubernatorial-appointed Emergency Financial Control Board /,

The governor’s press conference today (Watch here) filled with data, and, presidential comments condemning the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis as well as racial inequality in America.

Watch the Biden statement here.

Am I being too cynical?

Am I too harsh in my assessment of Governor Cuomo?

Cuomo has emerged from the shadows of Albany and is leading the state; he is a model for other governors.

The Democratic National Convention is August 17th.

Let’s end with Pete Seeger, “Which Side Are You On?”

3 responses to “Governor Cuomo: Machiavellian, Presidential, or Both?

  1. Eric Nadelstern

    No chance this time around.


  2. We will have to wait for the Democratic convention, virtual or masked and face-to-face, to discover what Cuomo will or will not do. If Biden does not have the number of delegates to confirm him as the candidate that will confront Trump up to the November election, then anything goes.


  3. Franklin Schargel

    As typical, clearly thought out and brilliantly written.


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