Mario Cuomo (R.I.P.) died recently, and the media have gone wild repeating their thirty-year-old mantra that his speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention was “epic,” “historic,” and makes Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death” speech sound elementary schoolish by comparison.
I recall listening to Cuomo’s speech at the time thinking that it was surreal, detached from all reality, and obviously aimed at the below-50-I.Q. welfare parasite crowd. It was one of the worst examples of political B.S. and hot air ever.
Consider the context: By 1984 Keynesianism had imploded with the “stagflation” of the 1970s, so much so that the academic economic establishment had abandoned it. The welfare state was a proven disaster, as Charles Murray documented in his 1984 book Losing Ground. The regulatory state had gotten so out of control that even the Democrat Congress defunded the FTC until it behaved itself, and then deregulated oil, airlines, and trucking. All of that started with Carter, not Reagan. Taxation was so confiscatory that tax evasion created a multi-billion dollar industry for accountants. And the federal budget had been nowhere near balanced since 1970.
So what did Cuomo say in his “epic” speech? Nothing but praise for the welfare state, Keynesianism, the regulatory state, and calls for more taxes, more welfare, more regulation, and more deficits. It was the most imbecilic speech by the most imbecilic liberal of the late twentieth century.3:14 pm on January 2, 2015