by Charles Lemos, Wed Apr 06, 2011 at 04:23:03 PM EDT
If over the past few months, I've thought about anything it is how the presidential prospects for the Democratic Party post-Obama aren't exactly glimmering with hope. It is pretty evident that in this coming 2012 electoral cycle for progressives in particular and for Democrats generally, there is really no alternative to supporting the President's re-election even if lukewarmly. No doubt, Barack Obama is a huge disappointment to progressives but whom else do we have?
It gets worse when you start thinking about 2016. Look at the Republicans and you'll find a plethora of possible candidates. There's Rep. Paul Ryan with his Path to Perdition and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida who is beginning to raise his profile positioning himself as the Hispanic reincarnation of Ronald Reagan. Also waiting in the wings is the current object of pachyderm affection, New Jersey's Chris Christie. Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty could conceivably run again, so could Newt Gingrich not mention the loony twins Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. On the more moderate side, there's even former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. Even the libertarians can boast Gary Johnson of New Mexico and Rand Paul of Kentucky. But what about the Democrats?
There just aren't that many Democrats with a national profile at the moment or even Democrats in a position to raise their national profile and that should concern us. The New York Times does profile one Democrat today who apparently does harbor national ambitions but if you read the lead in you're not exactly left with a warm glow.
He has clashed with unions, who he believes have helped drive his state into bankruptcy. He has been praised by prominent conservatives like Sarah Palin and Rudolph W. Giuliani. And he has taken thousands of dollars in campaign money from the New York billionaire David H. Koch, who with his family has financed the Tea Party movement.
His name: Andrew M. Cuomo, the governor of New York, a state where Democrats dominate and where his father, Mario M. Cuomo, is still invoked as a paragon of activist government and liberal principle.
In his first months in office, Governor Cuomo is taking a different tack. The man who began public life advocating for homeless people won passage of a budget that makes steep cuts to schools, health care and social services. In a year when Wall Street posted record profits, Mr. Cuomo firmly rejected a politically popular income tax surcharge on the wealthy that was sought by many Democratic lawmakers. And Mr. Cuomo has promised to press for a cap on local property taxes, an idea with its modern roots in the conservative-led California tax revolt of the 1970s.
Mr. Cuomo’s approach to governing has burnished his prospects for higher office — an ambition he neither confirms nor denies — playing against the conventional stereotype of a New York Democrat and drawing praise from the political right (some of it, perhaps, not entirely sincere). Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, has called Mr. Cuomo “my soul mate.” The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has praised Mr. Cuomo’s “ruptures with Democratic orthodoxy.”
But Mr. Cuomo’s choices have also rankled some former allies and stirred suspicions among some fellow Democrats about his motivation.
“Governor Cuomo wants to be president, and he would do anything to be president,” State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr., a Bronx Democrat, said in a speech on the Senate floor as lawmakers debated the budget whose terms were largely dictated by Mr. Cuomo. “He would take away the Medicare from the people,” Mr. Díaz said, “he would take the services from the poor, he would take the money from education.”
We have five years to find an alternative to Andrew Cuomo.