When I spoke before a gathering of the Northeast Yonkers Republican Club last week I wore a Nixon-Agnew button on my jacket lapel as a little joke.
“If and when the Democrats ever invite me to speak,” I told the group, “I’ll have to wear another button like this one.” With that, I held up a blue and white Andrew Cuomo button that was distributed during his successful race for New York attorney general.
One or two people laughed at my attempt at humor. After all the son of the former governor, who was once a member of the Clinton administration and was even married for a time to a Kennedy, could be thought of as the ultimate Democrat.
That’s why I hooted yesterday while watching John McCain’s interview on “60 Minutes.”
McCain had been widely quoted for saying that once he took office as president he would fire Christopher Cox, the chairman of the Security Exchange Commission, for his alleged negligence leading up to the mother of all financial crises. The candidate admitted he wouldn’t have the power to cashier Cox, but would force his resignation. Then he said he would replace him with Andrew Cuomo.
My guess was that McCain was trying to demonstrate his bipartisanship by throwing out the name of a northeastern liberal as an answer to the country’s economic woes. It seems McCain has been expending a great deal of effort to distance himself from his own party and certainly from the policies of George W. Bush.
But Cuomo? It’s not that there aren’t plenty of people from both parties to point a finger at for the current mess…but Cuomo’s role as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development has certainly come under major scrutiny. And it’s a wonder that McCain didn’t know that before he blurted out his name during his interview with “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley.
I was reminded of Cuomo’s HUD performance by Wayen Barrett, who wrote a long piece, titled “Andrew Cuomo and Fannie and Freddie,” about the attorney general’s tenure under President Bill Clinton. The article appeared in The Village Voice last month.
“Andrew Cuomo, the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history, made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country’s current crisis. He took actions thatâ€”in combination with many other factorsâ€”helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments. He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded “kickbacks” to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why. ”
Barrett goes on at length about how Cuomo has tried to paint himself as a white knight in the subprime meltdown, but then, try to find anyone who’s pure.
McCain, who is nearly every day surprising us with his views of the nation’s financial troubles, said Cuomo would restore “credibility” to the marketplace.