Cuomo makes Trump great again
Donald’s Trump notorious slogan “Make America Great Again” may go down in political history — for a strange reason. Not only did it help him win the presidency in 2016, it could prevent a savvy Democrat from beating him in 2020. That latter person would be New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s cruising to his third term this year and rumored to be a presidential candidate two years from now.
Cuomo severely undermined whatever chance he had to be the Democratic nominee — or vice-presidential candidate — with a bizarre statement last week: “We’re not going to make America great again — it was never that great. We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged.”
Thud. It landed like a sack of wet cement on a muddy field. Cuomo was quickly forced to recant the strange claim by saying he had been “inartful,” as if he had told a joke and forgotten the punchline.
“I want to be very clear,” he said later. “Of course America is great and of course America has always been great.”
It was about all he could do, but it didn’t seem very convincing. After all, he had said in plain English about America, “it was never that great.” Cuomo will probably join that sad list of politicians who said one dumb thing that will forever haunt them, like Sen. John Kerry quipping in 2008 about a spending bill, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”
Whatever the nuance Kerry intended got lost in the larger message to average voters. It seemed like a perfect (or horrible) example of politicians who don’t really have any principles and will say or do anything to get elected.
The irony in Cuomo’s blunder is that if he were on the Democratic ticket in 2020, he’d be opposing a candidate who has said countless absurd or insulting things too — the Trumpster himself. Yet Trump is unique in modern politics in that not only can he get away with saying or tweeting nonsense, it’s one of the things that endears him to his followers. They see a rule-breaker who scorns political correctness, even if they wouldn’t personally insult a war hero like Sen. John McCain. They like the outlines of Trumpism and don’t care about the details.
In fact, in two years voters could see a replay of the last presidential election — a choice between two candidates they dislike, with victory going to the one determined to be slightly less annoying. Right now, the Democratic front-runners are candidates like Cuomo, or Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, each with their own trainload of baggage.
The eventual winner will presumably make America great, and you can fill in your own word after that.
Thomas Taschinger, TTaschinger@BeaumontEnterprise.com, is the editorial page editor of The Beaumont Enterprise. Follow him on Twitter at @PoliticalTom