Dutch Treat Club Annual Dinner
Presentation of The Gold Medal
for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts
Governor MARIO M. CUOMO
The Harvard Club
New York City
May 5, 2014
Fellow Dutch Treaters. I have never felt less worthy in my life.
We all make our living with words … that’s certainly true for the brilliant Mark Russell and for a legendary lyricist like Sheldon Harnick.
And words are equally essential to the brilliance of Mark Nadler and Anita Gillette and Alan Schmuckler.
As for me, I’m afraid they usually emerge inartfully, awkwardly and imprecisely.
So I feel most inadequate indeed to the task of presuming merely to thank you for your marvelous gesture in bestowing your prestigious Gold Medal on MARIO MATTHEW CUOMO … from whom words cascade with such grace and beauty and precision and power on all the great issues of the day.
The Governor … who has graced our influential podium to kick off several seasons … deeply and dearly wishes he could join you. And recently in a voice laden with emotion and regret, asked me to assure you of that.
He loves the Dutch Treat Club and he loves especially the “give and take” of the Question and Answer sessions which always followed his formal presentations. Every time he appeared I would get a call: “Can’t we just do Q and A … they’re so damn bright!” But Donnelly and Fox always insisted he pay for his lunch with a major address!
And speaking of which … I hope you’ll allow me just a personal observation while we’re on the subject: I don’t think we’ve encountered – any of us – two nicer individuals than our two leaders: John Donnelly and Ray Fox!
Dutch Treat has a lot of luminous and vivid characters … many here assembled tonight … like our spectacular Peggy Burton, a class act in every season, on whom I’ve had an unrequited crush for 20 years!
Now I won’t intrude for very long on your evening. You’ve struck your Gold Medal for the Governor with the lovely – and accurate – phrase “Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.”
I’ll tell you who would have loved this night: Kitty Carlisle Hart, who for many of her 96 years, headed the New York State Council on the Arts. Mrs. Hart loved Mario Cuomo. For one thing, he never failed to reappoint her … or denied a request for funding! Maybe that’s why she called him “Governor Darling!”
Come to think of it … I think she called Nelson Rockefeller … and Hugh Carey … the same thing. But Mario was her favorite!
When he heard of your generosity and the Arts Gold Medal … the Governor dispatched an immediate email touched with his marvelous wit: “I don’t dance … I don’t sing … what do you want of me, O’Shaughnessy?”
I’ve thought about this … and what we “want” … from him even in his 82nd year. Especially in his 82nd year.
We want him only to continue to be Mario Cuomo … to instruct us … to enrich the public discourse about us … to enlighten us … to inspire us.
And … to use his own favorite word: to make our world “sweeter” than it is.
You have chosen well. He’s a great man. And, like I said at the beginning … I’m not worthy to loose the strap of his sandal …
He is surely one of the very greatest of our time … who has had a lot written and said about him … as when the Boston Globe called him “the great philosopher statesman of the American nation.”
So … a lot of recognition in his already long life … a lot of encomiums for this extraordinary man.
And now, by your generous hand: One more:
He now has a Dutch Treat Gold Medal … thanks to you.
William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington. He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America. He operates two of the last independent stations in the New York area: WVOX and WVIP.
He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files” was released in January, 2011. He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include these remarks about Mario Cuomo and the Dutch Treat Club.