Forcing History Versus Making History
ICYMI from today’s morning memo:
For the second time in the nation’s history, a black man will be sworn in as president of the United States.
He’s doing it on a day fraught with history. It’s the day the nation pauses to observe a slain civil rights leader and when President Obama takes the oath for his final four-year term, he’ll be doing it with his hand on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible.
That Obama takes the oath in a very different day and age is an understatement.
As Mario Cuomo might say, he’s learned that campaigning is poetry and governing is very much prose.
Obama will have to take on new challenges this term, including a push for gun control, as well as continuing issues, ranging from foreign affairs to the ongoing sequestration talks with Republicans in Congress that never will seem to be resolved.
If anything, Obama has only a few months before his political capital is spent and he begins to plan his presidential library.
Second terms, as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower all realized, never really go as planned.
It remains to be seen what Obama learned about presidential power in his first term and how he plans to adjust to the advantages and limitations of the office.
That brings us back to New York and our own student of power, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The governor, who spoke at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network’s annual rally on Saturday, gave an impassioned defense of his gun control law, which he signed last week after a flurry of legislative activity.
Cuomo probably doesn’t necessarily feel the need to defend the legislation. The measure is sweeping in its scope when it comes to updating the state’s assault weapons ban and limitations on magazine rounds. All of the broad provisions in the law have the support of New York voters, including 60 percent of upstate residents.
The law has come under criticism for how it was passed, with little debate on the specifics and the messages of necessity.
No matter, Cuomo seems to indicate. Getting things done, getting government to work. It doesn’t just happen. Things have to be willed into place.
“This is an activist struggle,” he told the mostly black audience. “Justice doesn’t happen. You have to make it happen.”
In a way, though, he’s not being entirely accurate when it comes to hardcore politicking.
Activism is always pushing for more. Activism wanted it done yesterday and questions why elected leaders are moving so slowly.
Executives who are good at legislating wait for their moment and then nudge things into place through carrots and sticks.
Cuomo shared the same sentiment when he was honored by the Empire State Pride Agenda for pushing his same-sex marriage law through the Legislature.
Again, the governor doesn’t feel these things are historic inevitabilities — that the universe naturally falls into place this way. The planets aren’t aligning on their own.
I don’t know if Cuomo has seen “Lincoln” yet — but Steven Speilberg’s movie is unabashed in praising the often unseemly side of politics and it’s backroom deals that outside observers like to deplore.
Cuomo governs in prose and something tells me he’d like to see Obama do the same.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 21, 2013 at 11:13 am, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|