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And He Pulled Himself Up By His Bootstraps Anyway!


Andrew Cuomo, a true Horatio Alger story:

You also write that there are ultimately more negatives than positives to being a famous politician’s son. Why? I wouldn’t trade my father or our experiences for anything. But politically, it’s a negative, because you get all your father’s enemies — and not all his friends.

Right. Being the governor’s son is a net negative. It’s amazing how many public officials in this land have managed to get beyond this handicap anyway.

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  • FMguru

    Reminds me of an interview I once heard with Jason Reitman where he explained that no if anything his dad’s name made it harder for him to succeed in Hollywood, because he had to overcome the impression he was just a talentless nepotist. This was right after he told a story about meeting George Clooney and having him read the script to Up In The Air. He sounded sincere; I wanted to punch a hole in the wall.

    • Ann Outhouse

      Most of the Hollywood nepots I can think of off the top of my head — Clooney being one — are actually very talented.

      There are exceptions, of course (e.g. Jaden Smith), but otherwise Hollywood seems to do a pretty good job of not employing actors just because they are well-connected. I suspect it’s because of the high cost of making even a “small” motion picture.

      The dynamic is different in politics, where fundraising ability is the main job qualification. We get stuck with dynasties in part because the kid has access to dad’s fundraisers and aggregators. It’a another argument for public campaign financing.

      • I think there was a NYT op-ed by some famous entertainment person’s kid ten or more years ago, about how nepotism wasn’t all that great, and how all her/his name really did was get a foot in the door. No mention of the fact that getting your foot in the door is 90% of just about everything.

        • FMguru

          Ding ding ding.

          Just knowing what doors to knock on, along with a last name that keeps the doors from getting slammed immediately in your face, gives you a leg up on 98% of the strivers out there. It certainly isn’t an additional burden to be overcome like he thinks it is.

          Now, just having a famous name and getting in the door doesn’t guarantee you anything – you still have to put in the work and prove yourself. But you still start from a position of tremendous privilege compared to everyone else.

          • witlesschum

            Yup, exactly. Joss Whedon is a third-generation TV writer who probably doesn’t get his first job if not for his name and his dad’s connections. But, if he sucked he’d have written for Roseanne for a season and then never been heard from again.

            • Jackov

              or become a associate producer

              The production side is where you stash all your untalented kids.

              • MAJeff

                Sort of like associate deans in academia.

          • TopsyJane

            Now, just having a famous name and getting in the door doesn’t guarantee you anything – you still have to put in the work and prove yourself.

            Yeah. Like George W. Bush. In the worlds of show business and politics particularly, getting your foot inside the door is truly 90% of the battle, movie acting and politics not being professions known for their excessive rigor. Mediocrities with helpful surnames can generally do pretty well even if they don’t scale the heights, examples being members of the Huston family not named Walter or John.

        • commie_atheist
          • Maybe? But it wasn’t that article, even ten years ago I don’t think I was ever bored enough to read that many words by Adam Bellow.

          • Wow. The article is titled “In Praise of Nepotism.” It contains this paragraph:

            No sooner had Bush taken office (thanks partly to the decision of a Supreme Court dominated by Reagan-Bush appointees) than he began doling out appointments to relatives of other leading Republicans. Michael Powell, the son of Secretary of State Colin Powell, became chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Elaine Chao, the wife of Senator Mitch McConnell, became Secretary of Labor. Chao’s chief labor attorney, Eugene Scalia, is the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and Justice William Rehnquist’s daughter went to Health and Human Services. Elizabeth Cheney, the Vice President’s daughter, became a deputy assistant secretary of state, and her husband became chief counsel for the Office of Management and Budget. In a crowning act of nepotistic chutzpah, Bush acceded to Senator Strom Thurmond’s request that he appoint the twenty-eight-year-old Strom Thurmond Jr. U.S. attorney for South Carolina.

            I didn’t bother to read the whole thing, but this seems like an amazing collection of evidence against the virtues of nepotism.

        • Manju

          Sounds like someone born with a silver foot in his mouth

          • RobNYNY1957

            A silver spoon hoop his ass is how we phased out in college.

        • RobNYNY1957

          Or getting your phone calls returned.

  • wca

    But politically, it’s a negative, because you get all your father’s enemies — and not all his friends.

    The power, the money, and all his father’s connections? The name recognition? Worthless. If he had none of these, then he’d surely be President right now.

    And that George W. Bush guy? If he hadn’t had a famous well-connected dad, he’d have been king of the friggin’ WORLD by now.

    • ericblair

      You know, those gold Patek Philippe watches are really, really heavy and give you elbow problems. It’s hard out there for a trustafarian.

    • Nobdy

      Lucky duck Barack Obama was born to a teenage mother and abandoned by his father. Plus he’s black. No wonder he waltzed into the White House with no accomplishments. He didn’t have to overcome the disadvantages of Dubya.

      • mds

        Sure, you may think you’re being satirical, but Roger L. Simon went there just recently at PJ Media (No link, because fuck them, is why):

        Barack Obama is a man unaccustomed to losing. Life has been exceptionally kind to him, sailing, as he did, through balmy Oahu sunsets, college, law school and career on into the presidency with scarcely a bump…

        Indeed, scrappy disadvantaged folk such as Mitt Romney could only dream of such a life.

        • NonyNony

          Poe’s Law is a harsh mistress.

          • John Revolta

            Harvard Law, on the other hand, is something you can just sail right through.

        • Hogan

          If you’re black, it’s never that you just make it look easy. You must be preternaturally gifted, and therefore don’t have to work as hard.

          • Aimai

            That’s sports, Hogan. Oahu Sunsets and Harvard Law Review were affirmative action welfare gifts.

        • sibusisodan

          Indeed, scrappy disadvantaged folk such as Mitt Romney could only dream of such a life.

          You’d never catch Mitt saying something so crass like how he would have better shot of winning this thing if he’d been born in Mexico…

          • Aimai

            Christ, why did you have to remind me of that? Even though it ended well–in tearsf or Mitt, I mean–still that entire election should pass into night and fog.

            • Malaclypse

              Disagree. They went for naked class warfare. Democrats should remind voters of that every chance we get.

              Mittens’ tears are just the icing on the shadenfreude pie.

              • MAJeff

                He hasn’t suffered enough yet.

        • RobNYNY1957

          The most repulsive moment of the 2012 campaign was when Ann Romney explained that she new hardship: When her husband was going to Harvard Law School, they had only his trust fund to live on. Other misguided people might view going to Harvard on a trust fund as extraordinary privilege.

      • IM

        You forget the perfect all american name Hussein.

        • Manju

          IIRC there’s an academic paper out there demonstrating that in ’08 Barack Obama suffered more from anti-Muslim bias than anti-black. i’d have to dig it up if ur curious.

    • calling all toasters

      This is why we usually have a couple hundred million presidents at any given time– only the children of presidents are excluded.

  • The Dark Avenger

    After reading about him a few years ago in Esquire, and given his recent political hijinks, he’s lucky that any of his fathers’ friends like him, given that he’s just another DINO.

    • Warren Terra

      Yeah, this. If he had any ability to reflect, he might consider asking himself why his father’s friends despise him.

      On the other hand, if he had any ability to reflect he wouldn’t be the undead bloodsucker he so clearly is.

      • Aimai

        Oh, I think he knows why his dad’s friends despise him. He’s not stupid. He’s just mean. And I do think this must be a sincere source of grievance for the kind of person who wants the fame and power they saw their father have but who don’t have the morality or intellect or humanity that gained their father his place in the world. That has to feel galling to both compete with the old man and his legacy and depend on it for your foothold in the world.

        • That’s what he’s complaining about, isn’t it? “All those old hippies hate me because I’m smarter than my father.”

        • Warren Terra

          (the inability to reflect / undead bloodsucker thing was an attempt at a joke, not an assertion about his intelligence)

  • I believe it’s a negative for him in one sense: people keep comparing him to his father and concluding he’s the grossly inferior Cuomo.

    • Lee Rudolph

      Who it’s really a negative for, is his father.

      • Aimai

        Like poor Mike Wallace. How sharper than a serpent’s tooth. Etc..etc..etc..

    • Pat

      I mean, he’d have had a lot more advantages if he’d had born a Daley in Chicago, right?

  • gtomkins

    Born on third base, so he had all sorts of scrutiny from the catcher that other players didn’t have to face.

    • NonyNony

      I’d argue that Cuomo (like his fellow legacy W) was born pretty much on home plate after their fathers had hit a grand slam homerun.

      He’s not upset that the umpire or the catcher is giving him extra scrutiny – because they aren’t – he’s upset that the plebs in the stands don’t understand how awesome he is

      • burritoboy

        In the case of W, I’m not so sure you should point to his dad as much as his grandfather Prescott or his great-grandfather, Samuel P. The only reason Samuel P. didn’t hold an elective office is he didn’t want to – he was very tight with the Rockefellers, Harrimans and Tafts and was a major, major macher in the Republican party, especially in Ohio.

  • RPorrofatto

    if anything his dad’s name made it harder for him to succeed in Hollywood…
    They have to believe this, after all, it’s a meritocracy, idnit? Are they going to admit that they really aren’t amazing all on their own? Although I’d love for some actor’ or politician’s spawn one day to just be honest about it:
    “Look, I grew up going to parties, and like, hanging around with famous rich people, and like, playing in my band and being told I was brilliant, and oh yeah, spending obscene amounts of my parent’s money. Of course I’m cashing in on the name. I love this lifestyle! What, you think I’m gonna choose to be a marine biologist or something? Fuck that.”

    ETA: Crap. This was meant to reply to FMGuru’s first comment. If my name were Tori or Paris I would have had someone competent post it for me.

    • Rob in CT

      That would be nice. But I’ll settle for guys like Cuomo just having a nice hot cup of shut the fuck up about it. Spare me the bullshit justifications. Just do your thing.

    • Pat

      For a politician’s kids, you also have the constant training of listening to your dad talk about how to win elections and how to manage your enemies while growing up. Truly born on home base.

  • Murc

    Christ on a bike.

    I will never vote for this man for anything, I don’t care who he is running against, and every single Democrat in New York who cast a ballot for him instead of Zephyr Teachout should be deeply and permanently ashamed.

  • UserGoogol

    I’m willing to believe it’s true that being a famous person’s child gives you more enemies than friends. But the thing is, which is probably quite genuinely difficult to realize from the inside, you don’t need actual friends to succeed, you just need “connections.” Someone in power who doesn’t particularly like you but is still going to listen to you and not immediately cause you harm is still a useful thing to have.

    And for that matter, these connections don’t just mean unqualified people get in, per se. If I had the opportunity to be a close aide to a governor, I’d probably pick up some valuable skills for a future political career. But since my dad isn’t the governor, I’d have to work quite hard just to get into that position.

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