Cuomo’s no Thomas More; Dowd’s Still Dowd

I really want to stop writing about her but Maureen Dowd’s extended adolescence just attracts my morbid curiosity, and next thing I know, I have an urge to fisk. Writing on NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, she’s just so irresistibly herself:

“It’s troubling for me as a Catholic to be at odds with the church,” he began, before dissolving into a wry laugh. “Having said that, it seems that my entire political life, the tension with the church has come up again and again.”

Yes, that’s some laughing matter, being at odds with the church. I suspect Cuomo is an all-together more serious person than Dowd, and I doubt he “dissolved” into a wry laugh about it. Wryness, itself, implies a sardonic bark, and sardonic barks usually preclude dissolution in order to get on to the matter at-hand

Just as his father seized a social issue and established himself in opposition to the church with his Notre Dame speech on abortion, now the son has seized a social issue and established himself in opposition to the church with gay marriage.

It was precisely the corkscrew reasoning of his father, in that Notre Dame speech, that has helped Catholic Democrats perpetuate one of the most dishonest, politically expedient and life-destroying, bumper-stickeresque examples-of-non-thinking ever: “while I am personally opposed to abortion, I cannot “impose my views on others.” It’s the line Nancy Pelosi uses when discussing abortion, but drops when she’s trying to pass a ruinous Obamacare bill by touting scripture and St. Joseph. It’s the line that “works” for some on abortion, but never could (and never should) “work” on an issue like, slavery. Would a Cuomo, a Pelosi or a Kennedy have told the founders, “I am personally opposed to slavery, but cannot impose my views on others…” Of course not, because it would be a stupid argument. But I digress…

“I have a portrait of Saint Thomas More in my office,” the governor said . . It is a picture Mario Cuomo once kept in his office. He gave it to Andrew as a present when he graduated from Albany Law School, and the younger Cuomo has kept it with him for 30 years as he moved from job to job and city to city. “It’s not the first time there is a tension between the teachings of the church and the administration of the law, for my father and for myself.” Dryly, he adds: “I haven’t lost my head yet.”

It’s unlikely that he would, since he runs counter to the church, not the king. While I have my doubts about Dowd, I do credit Cuomo with knowing that St. Thomas More lost his head because he was “the King’s good servant, but God’s first,” which makes me wonder why either Cuomo carries the martyr’s portrait around, unless — in their untouchable brilliance — they see themselves as spoon-reflections, martyred by the church for their enlightenment. Which, if that’s how they feel, would be a conceit, not reality. But I have no idea, really; the logic does not compute.

Far from it . . . He has managed to stay on good terms with New York’s pugnacious archbishop, Timothy Dolan, who waged a relatively muted battle against gay marriage that Cuomo calls “reasonable.”

Only Maureen Dowd (who last week referred to the transparently joyful Timothy Dolan as the “starchbishop”) would call Dolan “pugnacious.” Maybe she thinks it means “cute as a Pug.” Last week, she portrayed Dolan as a knife-between-teeth-take-no-prisoners-inquisitor carrying stake, lighter fluid and matches. This week, she describes his opposition to the gay marriage legislation as “relatively muted.” The Relatively Muted Pugnacious Starchbishop. It sounds like an SNL cartoon! I often get the sense that the world flips through Dowd’s awareness like brightly colored panels and balloon dialogue. It all makes sense, now.

When I asked if the archbishop would preside over the ceremony if the governor decides to tie the knot with the Food Network glamour girl Sandra Lee, Cuomo says it couldn’t happen “because I’m divorced.”

Which, of course, Dowd would know; it’s a question she need not have asked, except that it gives this inveterate needlewoman a chance to needle Cuomo and the Archbishop, and the church, and it also lets her make fun of Cuomo’s “Food Network glamour girl” (which she does later in the piece, too) because at heart Maureen Dowd is perpetually in high-school, and forever the mean girl lingering at the farthest end of the Prom Queen’s retinue — compelled to make fun of anyone she possibly can, in order to prove that she belongs at the “cool kids” part of the lunchroom.

“I have never been in anything like that in my life, period. . . Just the difference we made in people’s lives, how we touched people and made them feel good about society. It was really magic. “A father, maybe 60 years old, came up to me and said, ‘You know, I have a gay son, and I never really accepted him and I shouldn’t have needed you to tell me that it was O.K. to accept my own boy. But I did.’ ”

It’s very sad that a father could not accept his son
without a government sanction, but to the rest of it: “Sentimentalism is the force of feel-goodism, the means by which we may cast off the conventions of faith and casually dismiss those institutions that refuse to submit to the trending times and morals. The Sentimentalist trusts his feelings over hallowed authority or the urgings of his reason, frequently answering hard religious questions with some noble-sounding phrase like “The God I believe in wouldn’t…” (fill in the blank). What fits in that blank is typically some tenet of traditional faith that isn’t currently fashionable, some moral demand that pop culture considers impossible—and hence, not worth even trying. Thus the Sentimentalist, while believing he follows the inviolate voice of his conscience, is really sniffing after trends, forming his heart according to the sensus fidelium of middlebrow magazines and public radio. — me, here.

[Cuomo and his father] talk at least once a day, and he says he values his father’s advice on any issue the “always rational” Mario chooses to weigh in on.

It is a stark contrast to the Bush 43, who was still afraid of his dad’s shadow as president and avoided talking issues with 41.

Oh, you dishonest, hate-obsessed, sniping harpy, you know damn well that if Bush 43 had talked to his father every day, you’d have crucified him for it with a gem on the order of: “The boy-pwince needs to tawk to Poppy evewy day, or he can’t find the Owal Owwice!”

I ask him if it bothers him that he lives with a Food Network star but often keeps a 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. schedule at work that causes him to miss out on his girlfriend’s famous “semi-homemade” meals at home. (His mom’s criticism of her lasagna is another thing you don’t kid about.)

The parting needle, of course. What a nasty, passive-aggressive snot.

I disagree with Andrew Cuomo on many things
, but do think he is smart, and that he was grown from his own “pugnacious” beginnings into a person who — having endured a few tumbles — tries to be reasonable and respectful. That he politely endured what had to be an interminable phone call with this sniggering perpetual 14-year-old speaks well of his mannerliness and his patience.

And of that, perhaps, St. Thomas More would be proud.

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