"Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees -- wagon train after wagon train -- to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans -- all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America."
I heard this excerpt of a speech on WNYC radio a couple of months ago. The segment was about Andrew Cuomo. He had just declared that he was running for Governor of NYS. I was kind of half-listening until the excerpt came on. I thought that it was pretty awful. Pity, I thought. Whereas Mario, his father, had a reputation for being quite a rousing speaker, young Andrew, it seemed, was not. And then I learned it was an old recording, that the speaker was indeed Mario, and at his shining moment, the 1984 Democratic Party convention. I was so shocked.
How awkward is this? The wagon train? Pulling native Americans up into the wagon train? Is that for real the image he chose? Ouch! Painful! That could well be the most insensitive thing I have ever heard in my life — from someone who I take seriously, that is.
Or maybe the WNYC radio just took an awkward part of the speech? What do you think? Was the great speech of Mario Cuomo in fact as good as its epic status in Democratic party folklore?