Let me not mince words. I am five feet five inches tall. I used to be taller but at some point, you start to shrink. Instead of going up, you go down. I’ve always believed that some people die and that some people shrink to the point where they are never seen again. But, I digress. Buffalo, New York recently had a snow storm that left over seven feet of snow in some places. This is a good argument for not living in Buffalo or maybe just not living there in the winter. Now, seven feet of snow is a foot and a half over my head. This is not a laughing matter — a lot of people died in that storm and with the extreme meteorological events that we have been experiencing of late, storms of this magnitude will become increasingly common.
Most people know little or nothing about state politics. They simply don’t care, nor do they believe they have the power to make a difference. They do, however, care about the weather. Just ask the news director at any television or radio station. Alas, like in politics, they know that they don’t have any real ability to change the weather, but unlike in politics, they know that they can prepare to some extent for what’s coming. If it’s going to rain, bring your umbrella. If it’s going to snow, get out the snow blower and the shovel. Put on your snow tires and have an emergency kit in the car. Check in with your cardiologist to make sure that you are up to shoveling snow. I used to have a colleague during my many years doing political commentary on television. Every time it snowed he would yell out, “Snow Tips!”
Enter into this Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo seems obsessed about Buffalo and its environs. It seems that every time we see the guy, he is either in Buffalo, on his way to Buffalo or returning from Buffalo. Somewhere in his political calculations, he has decided that Buffalo is central to his political aspirations and the people of Buffalo know and appreciate his attention. I know a banker in Buffalo who says that the governor has promised to invest a billion dollars of the state’s money in Buffalo and he is meeting his pledge.
Nothing, however, has been so inspiring — and I really mean this — as Cuomo during the recent seven foot Buffalo snowstorm. It wasn’t the World Trade Center, but to Cuomo’s credit, he got to Buffalo. The Thruway was closed and no one was getting in or out, but there he was. He made the national news and all the state news. He made the international news. He was doing exactly what a leader should be doing. He was warning people to stay in their homes. He brought in the National Guard. He found every piece of snow removal equipment that was to be had. He got other states to send their equipment. He looked heroic.
Every politician knows that you don’t want to mess up during a snowstorm. Mayor John V. Lindsay messed up the snow removal in Queens, New York and that was the end of his career.
When I write my book, “How to Win and Stay in Office,” there will be a whole section on weather. In addition to chapters about money spent on pollsters and paying back political contributors, one major part of the book will be dedicated to the hiring of meteorologists and emergency preparedness folks who will examine every potential scenario. There on page 346 will be a full page picture of Governor Cuomo, snow shovel in hand, and a tribute to the way he handled the great Buffalo snow storm. Hey, I’ve never been short on criticism of the guy when he screws up, but this time, he comes out a hero.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 11/25/14