Matt Bai, chief political correspondent for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, celebrated the “grace and gravitas” of former New York State governor and perpetual Democratic presidential hopeful Mario Cuomo, “Papa Doesn’t Preach – Mario Cuomo would be a perfect elder statesman, if only his son’s generation wanted one.”
Bai talked to the elder Cuomo, whose son Andrew is governor of New York, at his office at a Midtown law firm. The profile begins with Cuomo in charmlessly pedantic mode, with a lecture on the precise meaning of the word “proud.” Bai admired him as one of the liberal “titans of the day.”
If you were a kid in the Northeast during the 1980s, as I was, there is something awesome -- in the literal sense -- about sitting across a desk from Mario Cuomo, even if he now misplaces names and occasionally grasps for the point of an anecdote that has fluttered just out of reach. He was, at that time, the anti-Reagan, a powerful and resonant voice of dissent in the age of “Top Gun” and Alex P. Keaton. Cuomo, Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson were the three titans of the day who seemed to possess the defiance needed to rescue liberalism from obsolescence.
In contrast, Bai’s reporting shows hostility toward conservative ideas and people, notably a July 18, 2010 story in which he conjured up a fiction of “hateful 25-year-olds” hurling racial slurs at Tea Party rallies.