Cuomo’s 35 questions, answered

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo’s 35 questions, answered

Oh, those were rhetorical?
April 23, 2019

This Passover season, Jews across the Empire State will be asking the Four Questions. Ever competitive, Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked 35 questions in The Washington Post, a newspaper that’s becoming notorious for publishing New York politicians’ mumbo-jumbo.

Never one to let burning questions go unanswered, City & State took a stab at Cuomo’s “provocative” questions on “today’s political reality.”

1. Which came first, President Trump or the degradation of our political system: Which was the cause, and which was the effect?

The political system. Did you forget about running against Carl Paladino in 2010?

2. When did political debate become reduced to 280 characters on Twitter?

Twitter launched on March 21, 2006. Political debate actually increased to 280 characters on Nov. 7, 2017, when Twitter doubled its character count.

3. When did the number of Twitter followers become the measure of political viability?

If it were, Nomiki Konst would be New York City’s public advocate.

4. How did an Instagram post come to command more respect and attention than a substantive policy presentation?

Odd for you, of all people, to disparage the power of imagery!

 

5. How did “successful journalism” come to be defined by the number of clicks?

Since the internet undermined the print advertising revenue model, forcing outlets to rely more on digital advertising revenue, which is determined by pageviews. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been great reporting on the nitty-gritty of your infrastructure spending, the tension between you and the subways chief and the federal corruption trial of your former top aide.

6. When did we stop believing what we read in the press?

Since the end of the Fairness Doctrine and the subsequent rise of right-wing talk radio, accelerated by the advent of Fox News, partisan polarization and the siloing of online media into right- and left-leaning echo chambers. Do you really not know this?

7. When did cable news turn into the World Wrestling Federation, with each contender playing to its own cheering section?

The former WWF changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002 – so apparently before that.

Not to mention:

 

8. Why are the least informed, most unrealistic and most unreasonable political voices the loudest?

Why are the least informed op-eds given space in The Washington Post?

9. When did the labor movement become viewed by some as the enemy of the middle class?

Perhaps following your 2010 campaign for governor, when, according to The New York Times, you planned to“mount a presidential-style permanent political campaign to counter the well-financed labor unions he believes have bullied previous governors and lawmakers into making bad decisions” and to “transform the state’s weak business lobby into a more formidable ally, believing that corporate leaders in New York have virtually surrendered the field to big labor.”

10. When did this country, which once built the tallest buildings and longest bridges, forget how to build and allow itself to lose its global competitive advantage?

You try pushing a 164-floor tower through ULURP. And still, seven of New York City’s 10 tallest buildings opened in the past decade.

11. When did we lose our confidence?

Let’s not pretend that you have ever suffered from a lack of confidence.

12. Why is it that teachers, doctors, lawyers, hairstylists and plumbers need a license to do their jobs — but the job of president requires no qualifications or experience?

Blame the U.S. Constitution on this one. You just have to be a 35-year-old natural born U.S. citizen who’s lived in the country for 14 years.

13. Is campaign finance reform an oxymoron as long as rich corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals can still make unlimited “dark money” contributions?

You could lead by example, instead of accepting $20 million in campaign donations through the LLC loophole since 2010.

14. What happened to ideas that are good and sound rather than ideas that sound good but are unrealistic and infeasible?

If history if our guide, you’ll eventually succumb to public pressure and support ideas you previously ignored or thought ill-considered, like legalization of recreational marijuana, congestion pricing and parolee voting.

15. Does anyone remember the old saying about political candidates: “Before they tell you what they are going to do, ask them what they’ve actually done.”

Maybe someone does, but you’re the first one to ever use that phrase on the internet.

16. When did the greatest threat to America become other Americans, and when did diversity become our weakness rather than our strength?

Terrorism is no joke, but fellow Americans have always been our biggest threat. Over the past decade, Americans were more likely to be killed by a toddler with a gun than a foreign-born terrorist.

17. When did some people begin thinking anti-Semitism is tolerable?

Remind us, governor, have Jews learned to dance yet?

18. When did white supremacists become so emboldened that when they rally in our streets they no longer feel the need to cover their faces with hoods?

The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, happened Aug. 12, 2017, but white supremacists have marched with their faces uncovered at least since 1927, when Fred Trump was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in Queens in which many participants were photographed with their hoods not covering their faces.

19. When did Puerto Rico become a foreign country?

Your aid after the storm was appreciated, but many Puerto Ricans – and a recent United Nations special committee – would prefer that Puerto Rico be an independent nation, or at least a state, rather than its current status as a “territorial colony.” Unlike your 2018 opponent Marc Molinaro, who endorsed statehood, you’ve apparently been silent on the issue.

20. When did the Democratic Party stop being a big-tent party?

Asks the man who is eager to court Republican support, yet disparages the “activists and socialists” with tattoos, earrings and beards.

21. When did the political left become an enemy of the political left and the Democratic Party become a circular firing squad?

“If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed for Gov. Andrew Cuomo throughout his many years in state government, it’s this,” we wrote earlier this month. “There is always a fight to be had with fellow Democrats.”

22. When did we decide compromise was a bad word?

Some other bad words come to mind after realizing we still have 13 questions left.

23. When did our people stop believing our government can function as a force for good?

In New York, it could’ve been in April 2017, when you – the most powerful political player in the state – threw up your hands and said there wasn’t any “political will” to pass ethics reforms in Albany.

24. When did people start running for office just so they could sell a book or to boost their business?

You’ve made a decent economic case for it, earning some $783,000 on your memoir, “All Things Possible” by 2017. It sold just 3,200 copies – netting you $245 per book.

25. When did we lose respect for our history and choose not to learn from it?

Not all of us had the benefit of our fathers being governor. Except for Malcolm Wilson’s kid, and you took her dad’s name off a bridge!

26. When did we decide progressive posturing is more important than progress?

If there’s one guy who knows about posturing, it’s you. Whether you’re posturing in the snow, on the train tracks, under a bridge…

27. When did Democrats get so caught up in hating the rich that they forgot about helping the poor?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in addressing a potential budget gap, said across-the-board cuts of $550 million to Medicaid funds were needed in his budget proposal,” Crain’s New York Business reported in February. (The funding was restored in the final budget.)

28. When did the struggling middle class begin believing that the Democratic Party had abandoned them and put its trust in the Republican Party?

Middle-class voters are actually pretty well split, so presumably you mean white middle class voters – because people of color are solidly with the Dems.

29. When did it become acceptable that high-ranking government officials lie all the time?

Politicians have lied since time immemorial, and critics would say you’re part of that storied tradition.

 

30. If so many people are so frustrated, then why don’t more people vote?

New York’s voting laws that split federal and state primaries and generally made casting a ballot an arduous process didn’t help. Now that you’ve changed them, eight years into your tenure, the voting rate may go up.

31. What happened to political courage?

You couldn’t have possibly thought his op-ed would go over well. And yet, you still published. That’s courage.

32. When did we lose our sense of humor?

Yes, your focus on your mortality has a certain gallows-humor charm, but there’s nothing humorless about not enjoying tasteless, unfunny jokes like your “I’ll bring you all up on charges under the Me Too movement” gaffe.

33. When did we get so angry?

You’ve been famous for being “quick to anger” since the 1980s, and you still get angry. Like when Amazon pulled out of the Long Island City deal in February. “Cuomo was just genuinely angry and was lashing out,” we reported at the time. “‘This is a governor who feels he has been wronged, and that the state has been wronged,’” a source said.

34. Where is the emergency exit for this theater of the absurd?

Just one more question, and you can exit this absurd op-ed.

35. Is it time that all Americans look ourselves in the mirror and ask if each of us is doing all we can to make a positive difference in our future?

This is a question begging to be a statement – but the 35 questions format was pretty good clickbait!

City & State
20191119