That repetitive clicking you hear from Albany is the sound of our governor ticking off boxes on the list of absolute requirements for a presidential candidacy in 2016.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Any governor who does a creditable job of governing our often ungovernable state deserves to be considered a legitimate candidate for president. And, if ambition for future office can help motivate performance in the current job, who can complain?
So far, in sharp contrast to his recent predecessors, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has miraculously managed to get everyone in the cacophonous Albany choir singing from the same song book. Along the way, he has reaped a thesaurus-busting string of accolades, as he compiled a list of accomplishments that will appeal to both fiscally conservative and socially liberal national constituencies.
Got tough on public sector unions? Check.
Delivered an on-time budget? Check.
Cut spending? Check.
Pushed through a 2 percent property tax cap? Check.
Got a marriage-equality law enacted? Check.
Created a statewide economic development plan? Check.
Unveiled a vision for Middle East peace? Well, actually, no.
But, as this week's bloody events in Afghanistan illustrate -- not to mention the ominous war talk about Iran and the debt crisis in Europe -- a president's job spans the globe, not just New York's 62 counties.
Our governor can prove his executive ability right here in New York, and so far, he's shown a lot. He can demonstrate an aptitude for working with both parties right here in New York, and he has. True, the jury is still out on key Cuomo initiatives, such as pension reform and a constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling in New York. Still, he has already checked off a lot of domestic boxes for 2016.
But how does he check off the international boxes? How does he get ready to go toe-to-toe with a crazed foreign leader? In a week like this, how does Cuomo resist wondering what he'd do if he were in President Barack Obama's shoes, coping with a crisis in Afghanistan and tamping down bomb-Iran talk, here and in Israel?
Of course, there's no way he will admit to presidential aspirations yet. Nor should he. So he can't start flitting around the planet, visiting China on a trade mission one week, for example, and Tehran the next. That would be a dead giveaway.
But he can take on a former State Department heavy, like Jamie Rubin, as an "international competitiveness" adviser. Oh, right, he's done that. Check. And he can read. So, some ideas:
Read everything by Andrew Bacevich, a West Point graduate, Vietnam vet and professor at Boston University. He writes with magisterial authority on the perils -- and the costs -- of our American empire. So did the late Chalmers Johnson, another veteran with a jaundiced view of the hundreds of American bases around the world.
Also: "Open Veins of Latin America," by Eduardo Galeano, on the 500-year history of our neighbors to the south, and our role in that drama. And: "What Every Person Should Know About War," by Chris Hedges.
If that brief list seems a tad anti-war and skeptical of our nation's foreign adventures, not to worry: Candidate Cuomo would get plenty of reading advice from military adventurists.
The point is this: He can be sure that others -- like Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who already appears on 2016 presidential lists -- will be working hard to acquire foreign policy chops. So, as he labors to tame the nonlethal warfare of Albany, Cuomo would be wise to think seriously about how he'd deal with the state of our empire in the more dangerous, far bloodier world beyond the Empire State.
Bob Keeler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.