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Jul 23 2004

Mario Cuomo is a Dirty Lying Dog

So, I'm on my way to work on the morning of July 20th and I was having a problem with the AM band on my radio and so I switched over to FM and...*shudder*...NPR (National Public Radio). I figured I could stand a few minutes of opposition research without becoming sick to my stomach or my temper boiling over...I was wrong.

The show was Morning Edition hosted by Steve Inskeep featuring Mario Cuomo, the former New York governor and very liberal democrat, discussing his new book, Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever, which examines the writing and speeches of Abraham Lincoln. Since, Cuomo claims to have written a book on President Lincoln's speeches, grossly inaccurate statements about Lincoln and one of Lincoln's most famous speeches cannot properly be called mere errors as much as a flat out disgusting lies made for the worst possible motive for someone writing a historical text, that of revising history to fit their own current day political agenda.

Cuomo stated, "[Lincoln] doesn't talk about God. He [only] talks about creator." I thought this was odd since, while I was never a history major, I have read many of Lincoln's speeches and I could have sworn Lincoln had specifically discussed God and not in the sense of just some generic creator. So I pop open the internet and instantly, Cuomo's assertion is objectively refuted by Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (quoted in full at the end of this tirade) wherein, by my count, in just the last 10 sentences of his address, Lincoln made 6 references to "God," 6 references to God using "He/His/Him," one reference to the "Almighty," one reference to "Lord," and quoted Psalm 19:9 along with two references to the New Testament, Matthew 7:1 and 18:7. It sure sounds to me like Lincoln specifically talked about "God"!

Cuomo tried to down play Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address admitting Lincoln mentions God, "but he never makes an argument for God." This is absurd. In this post I've mentioned Cuomo about as often as Lincoln mentioned God in his Second Inaugural Address. How can anyone say with a straight face that I don't think Cuomo exists? Or, that Lincoln doesn't think God exists? The fact that I don't additionally make an argument in favor of Cuomo's existence does not in any manner support the notion that I don't think Cuomo exists. Please just read the Address at the end and decide for yourself if Lincoln fervently believed in God or not.

Cuomo concluded the interview with this final nugget of putridness: "Would a politician stoop so low as to use religion to get close to voters? Yeah. I hope I didn't do it too much, because when I drop dead and I find out there is a God and indeed, he has a big book with everything noted--yeah, of course, politicians do it. Did Lincoln do it for that reason? All I know is Lincoln was a master politician."

Isn't that all wonderfully smarmy. Cuomo avoids actually stating his obvious opinion that Lincoln stooped so low as to use religion to get close to voters, but that is exactly what Cuomo wants the listener, and no doubt the reader of his book, to believe since after all "Lincoln was a master politician" and "politicians do it." Disgusting revisionist lies. The particular nature of Lincoln's religion has long been the subject of much historical debate, however, until Cuomo's remarks, I did not think knowledgeable persons debated whether he was religious at all.

Most certainly everyone (in America) has the absolute right to believe or not believe in the God of their choosing, but no one should be allowed to get away with revising history and recharacterizing a man of faith as a cynical manipulator of a gullible public. Shame on you NPR. Shame on you Steve Inskeep. And, shame on you Mario Cuomo. Finally, Mr. Cuomo, without discussing the likelihood of such a scenario, if we both get past the pearly gates, I would very much like to be there when you meet up with President Abraham Lincoln. Do they allow ass-kickings in heaven?


[The following is a partial transcript of the July 20, 2004, Morning Edition program:]

INSKEEP: President Lincoln never professed to belong to an organized church...
CUOMO: Absolutely.
INSKEEP: ...of any kind.
CUOMO: Yeah, well, that's absolutely accurate, and if he was anything, he was a rationalist.
INSKEEP: And yet, even though he did not belong to an organized religion, Lincoln often did invoke God in his speeches and used the language of the Bible in his speeches...
CUOMO: Oh, he used the lang...
INSKEEP: ...which is a way that he's like modern politicians, isn't he?
CUOMO: He used the language of the Bible over and over. In his second inaugural, how religious his references are, and that's absolutely true. But he never talks about Jesus as God, and he doesn't talk about God. He talks about creator. He was clearly not a person who accepted any specific religious faith.
INSKEEP: In the second inaugural, there's the line about "as God gives us to see the right." I mean, there are references to God.
CUOMO: Yeah. Well, yes, but he never makes an argument for God.
INSKEEP: I just wonder if it says something about the electorate that politicians were addressing then and now...
CUOMO: Oh, I...
INSKEEP: ...something practical.
Mr. CUOMO: Well, yeah. Let me ask a really grubby political question. I'm better at this than you are. I lived that life for a long time. Would a politician stoop so low as to use religion to get close to voters? Yeah. I hope I didn't do it too much, because when I drop dead and I find out there is a God and indeed, he has a big book with everything noted--yeah, of course, politicians do it. Did Lincoln do it for that reason? All I know is Lincoln was a master politician.


[On March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office for President of the United States for the second time. On that occasion, with the end of the Civil War in sight, he gave one of the most famous speeches in American presidential history, his Second Inaugural Address:]

Fellow-Countrymen:

At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war--seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

[Abraham Lincoln was assassinated just one month and 10 days after he delivered this speech.]

Posted by Don |

8 Comments

  1. #1
    Stentor said on July 24, 2004 | Reply

    "The Bible is not my book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma."
    Abraham Lincoln

  2. #2
    Stentor said on July 24, 2004 | Reply

    When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion.
    Abraham Lincoln

  3. #3
    Stentor said on July 24, 2004 | Reply

    I'd say that makes it pretty clear, wouldn't you? Shame on you Don, for stooping to name calling without properly researching Lincoln's background.

  4. #4
    Don said on July 24, 2004 | Reply

    Thanks for posting and keeping me honest. I wouldn't want it any other way. However, I stand by my comments that Cuomo's statements about Lincoln and his speeches are incorrect and are specifically refuted by Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address which was discussed in Cuomo's interview.

    There is in fact historical debate about the nature of Lincoln's religion; I admitted that in my post. Christianity involves very specific beliefs in Jesus Christ. I never called Lincoln a Christian and it is pretty clear, although there are still advocates, that Lincoln was not a Christian.

    While not a Christian, I do believe Lincoln had a fervent belief in God. You cannot honestly read his Second Inaugural any other way. I invited readers to read it and make their own decision about Lincoln's faith.

  5. #5
    Stentor said on July 25, 2004 | Reply

    Don, what presidents put in their inaugural addresses doesn't have much relevance to what they may personally believe. Lincoln may have felt it necessary to include those references as an acknowledgement of the more pious in his audience.

    I believe Eisenhower also included references to God in his inaugural addresses, was the President most remembered for the insertion of "Under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance, and into most of our currency, but he was also not a religious person. When a fellow classmate from West Point teased him about having to start attending church more often now that he was running for president, Eisenhower replied grimly, "The only way they'll get me back into a church is feet first."

    My point being that a president will always pretend to be more religious in public than he actually is, because one of the last persons to be elected to the office of the POTUS will be someone who isn't religious, and open about it. The Constitution may have included a clause about no litmus test of religious belief for public office, the truth of the matter is that that litmus test is still applied by most voters, and don't think for a minute that most presidential candidates won't play that card.

  6. #6
    Don said on July 26, 2004 | Reply

    "Lincoln may have felt it necessary to include those references..." Maybe...maybe not. I'll stand by "not," as I tend to err on the side of people meaning what they say. Cuomo didn't say that Lincoln talked about "God" but didn't mean it. Cuomo said Lincoln didn't talk about "God" and that was a LIE. Or, did Cuomo also mean something other than what he said?

  7. #7
    Stentor said on July 26, 2004 | Reply

    I'll have to go to the NPR website, look up the interview, and then listen to it. After I do, I'll get back to you, okay?

  8. #8
    Don said on July 26, 2004 | Reply

    Given that you are obviously intelligent and knowledgeable about Mr. Lincoln, I would be interested to know if, at least, you think Cuomo was sloppy in his remarks. Will you give me that much?

    My post contains a link to the audio, it can be found here:
    http://www.npr.org/features/feature.php?wfId=3602029

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