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Cuomo, Bloomberg flex their muscles

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Westbury in November.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Westbury in November. Credit: Howard Schnapp

New Year Point

Welcome back to The Point! After some time off to enjoy the holidays, we're looking forward to the start of a new decade and a new year of delivering distinctive insider political and governmental news to you, our loyal readers. Without further ado, let's dive back in...

Daily Point

Cuomo to the rescue

It’s a bird ...  It’s a plane … 

It’s Super Governor!

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo may have spent Monday morning acting in one of his favorite parts, Andrew the Builder, as he announced big plans for the remaking of Penn Station.

But he spent his afternoon playing a role he seems to enjoy even more: Super Governor, hero to New York’s stranded motorists. 

After holding court at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in Manhattan, where he told a very friendly audience from the Association for a Better New York of his plans to add eight tracks and a new terminal south of Penn Station, Cuomo left Manhattan, traveling by car on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. He came upon an accident in which a truck was partially overturned, with the driver still inside. Cuomo climbed on to the highway’s median, cut the passenger's seatbelt and helped him out of the wrecked truck. 

A video and photo of Cuomo’s handiwork, shot by his staff, quickly made the social media rounds. 

But when Cuomo finishes all of his public transit improvements to encourage New Yorkers to abandon their cars, will he start taking the train instead? Then, who will you call for roadside assistance?

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

In his own words

Beyond his billions of dollars and the encouragement from his moneyed peers, why does Michael Bloomberg think he can be president? 

One answer becomes quickly clear in the updated 2019 version of his two-decade-old book, “Bloomberg by Bloomberg”: deep-seated swagger. 

Since leaving City Hall and receding into his Bloomberg empire and philanthropic life, the businessman has tried to cut a relatively sober wise-man profile. What that papers over is his career as a master of the universe building a technological and media empire, from the Bloomberg “terminal” to Bloomberg News. 

The book is full of muscular boasts about his toughness and business acumen. He says he was too “macho” to show sadness after being pushed out of Wall Street firm Salomon Brothers, en route to starting his own gig. As a bachelor, he says he had a “girlfriend in every city.” He wants the best, bragging about the size of his offices’ reception-area flower budgets and his “big salt-water fish tanks.” 

The book gives an author credit to Bloomberg’s media business chief Matthew Winkler, but the business titan tone is consistent throughout. It matches that of another book from a similar era from a New Yorker who also wanted to brag about his business and his excess: “The Art of the Deal.” 

Bloomberg is careful to drop hints that he knows how far he’s come. He talks about helping with installations for his early merchandise and repeats the old story about how he goes without a private business office. But then he also writes about helicopter skiing and recounts that “Every weekend and vacation I spent with our daughters on the competitive horse show circuit or at our country house.”

It remains to be seen whether Bloomberg the 2020 candidate can summon the old appealing arrogance of a guy who didn’t even open his Harvard University Business School acceptance (the envelope was big enough so he knew it was a yes), or whether he’s just a retired guy playing with horses.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

All about the Benjamins

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Quick Points

  • As wildfires ravage Australia, prime minister Scott Morrison defended his leadership in the crisis and his record on climate change. In baseball parlance, that’s called going 0-for-2.
  • Asked about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding on to the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to try to force the Senate to call witnesses during the trial, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Republicans should change Senate rules and begin the trial without the articles, saying, “We’re not going to let Nancy Pelosi use the rules of the Senate to her advantage.” Nope, only one side gets to do that.
  • If you bet on “war with Iran” as a major topic at next week’s Democratic presidential debate, prepare to collect your winnings, thanks to the killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.
  • If you bet on “war with Iran” as the top political topic for Golden Globes winners’ speeches, prepare to pay up, thanks to the Australian wildfires.
  • The drone attack on Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani killed the man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops — and the man responsible for much of the progress made by the U.S.-led coalition in fighting the Islamic State. Now that’s the strangest of strange bedfellows.
  • Asked on Sunday morning news programs about the legality of bombing Iranian culture sites as President Donald Trump has threatened, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeatedly dodged an answer. Which, of course, made the answer crystal clear.
  • Former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro has endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 race. There’s a 1% Warren will be happy to accept.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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