Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cuomo Voices Humane Tradition

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cuomo Voices Humane Tradition

Article excerpt

Isn't America searching for something?" Mario Cuomo asked. "Despite all the wealth and grandness that is so apparent, insinuating itself is a feeling that something's missing.

"There's no hero, no heroine, no great cause, no soaring ideology. We are riddled with political answers that seem too shallow, too shortsighted, too explosive, too harsh.

"We need something real to believe in, to hold onto. Something deeper, stronger, grander that can help us deal with our problems by making us better than we are - instead of meaner. That can lift our aspirations instead of lowering them." Cuomo was addressing what looked like a tough audience, the American College of Trial Lawyers. It is a learned and tradition-minded organization of eminent figures in the litigating bar. But when he finished, the audience rose to give him a standing ovation. He had touched a chord. Those highly successful men and women evidently understood what he meant by the sense of something missing in our national life. Watching, I thought the something was political leadership. He was calling for a turn away from the narrowly conceived self-interest that has dominated our politics for years, toward a more humane tradition in American history - toward concern, as he said, for an interconnected society. Looking at it another way, the speech aroused a longing for . . . Mario Cuomo. Here was the man who brought a subdued Democratic convention to life in 1984 with his rhetoric. Still today, no one in either party can touch him as a speech-maker. Of course, that only brings us back to the Cuomo mystery. Why didn't he get on that plane waiting to fly him to New Hampshire to file for the 1992 primary? Why did he leave the presidential race to Bill Clinton and the rest? Now he's a former governor, joking about his reduced status. "I was elected a private citizen by the voters of New York," he told the lawyers. He went on to describe waiting alone to board a plane at Kennedy Airport and having a woman saying to him, "You're Sonny Bono, right?" But here he sounded readier than any other visible Democrat to challenge President Clinton on the traditional liberal values of civil liberties and help for the poor. …

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