Pho to by Alan Pog u e Henry B. Gonzalez, 1980 of the wide world” and the work of the country is to extend the American dream “to every American . . . the outsider, the immigrant, the oppressed.” Cuomo had sat through the preliminaries quietly and gravely. He did not smile when most of the other officeholders were smiling; he seemed entirely contained within himself, composed. The eloquence that rose from him now rose naturally as light rising in a still and somber place. Gonzalez, he said, had built his career “on the belief that the fundamental purpose of government is to improve people’s lives,” and as “a champion of the politics of inclusion” he did what he did “for principles, not public opinion polls.” In phrases and cadences his own, Cuomo continued: “I don’t think the view of America from South Jamaica in Queens is much different from San Antonio’s West Side. There was the same aching to belong in both places . . . the knowledge that we would have to work very hard because our people were not born to this place. . . . “I think I know how hard that must have been for him at first, as a boy going to school where the language was not the language of his home, where the words sounded hardedged and tight compared to the rolling, rounded rhythms of his mother and father’s tongue. I think I know because the words sounded so different for me, from the world of the Italian blocks of South Jamaica, where passion and pride and powerlessness all lived together and people talked with their hands and their hearts. . . . “How lucky these two boys have been, how far they’ve come to meet here tonight. An amazing place, America, an amazing place.” In “this place of miracles,” Cuomo said, Gonzalez had decided “to dedicate his opportunity to sharing,” and this is what Democrats do. In what was not a definition, but a description of his ideal for his party, Cuomo said that when they turn around and pull the ladder up behind them, but when a Democrat makes it, “he turns around and reaches down for the person behind him.” Cuomo had returned to the theme of his memorable speech to the 1984 convention. The politics of inclusion, he said, is “the only politics worth practicing,” contrasting as it does concern for others and selfishness, optimism and cynicism. The things Franklin D. Roosevelt taught us “are the vital part of our party still,” he said. “We believe that all who can work should work but we are not afraid to be called compassionate.” Success is not begrudged, nor profits, but “we don’t make it unless we all make it.” Gonzalez spoke for 42 minutes, thanking Cuomo, naming and thanking many of his supporters through the years, and telling stories. One of the best of these concerned Cong. Jake Pickle of Austin, a member of the House Ways and Means committee, who was sitting at the head table. Gonzalez said Pickle and a colleague came up to him on the floor of the House and asked him to support a tax bill. “Wait a minute, boys,” Gonzalez said he replied, “I’m not a taxer, I’m a spender.” “We believe that all who can work should work but we are not afraid to be called compassionate . . . we don’t make it unless we all make it.” Governor Mario Cuomo Gonzalez appeared to compliment Cisneros, but the mayor knew something had happened to him when the congressman started talking about the weeks during 1984 when Walter Mondale was considering vice-presidential running mates, including Henry C. Gonzales said he told Cisneros, before he went to Minnesota to talk to Mondale, that he didn’t know why Cisneros “wanted to be vice president.” Why, Gonzalez said, he wouldn’t take that job under any circumstances, and he just could not understand Cisneros “wanting to be vice president.” Cuomo sat a few feet away, his eyes down and hooded, his face still and expressionless. Nor was Cuomo’s demeanor being observed only by those few people in the audience who were sitting close enough to him to see him clearly and who were aware enough of what was happening to study him. Mayor Cisneros was watching him, too. Since the mayor was seated on the other side of Gonzalez from Cuomo, how did he manage to do this? He was cutting his head and his eyes to the side and casting his vision behind Gonzalez to study, from behind his own mask, the mask upon. the face of the visiting governor. Thus, as we have seen, fore and aft it was politics as usual at Henry B.’s 25th anniversary party; but at the center of the evening there remained the fact of Mario Cuomo’s special strength and moral power. “Such a thrill,” said Mary Jane Bode an evening or two later, “to hear a man speak beautifully saying meaningful things, when we spend so much time listening to nothing.” R.D. 6 FEBRUARY 7, 1986
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