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Monday, November 18, 2013

READ THIS: TIP AND THE GIPPER: When Politics Worked By Chris Matthews “Hello, Tip, is it after six o’clock?” A PERSONAL HISTORY OF HOW TWO GREAT POLITICAL OPPONENTS WORKED TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY Our Coverage Sponsored by Maine Woolens

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When we first learned of this book, we felt like it was written for Peachy Deegan. Does it get any better than President Reagan-we LOVE him-see our review of his autobiography here we loved it so much we even did the audiobook and we rarely do those- and a Boston College Graduate, namely Tip O'Neill? You cannot beat Irishmen and their gift of the gab (except maybe with an IrishWOMAN), and their understanding of compromise ("you can get me to crap a pineapple, but you cannot get me to crap a cactus" - see who says that on page 203). Chris Matthews has executed an absolute masterpiece between these two book covers and we are very jealous to have been born too late to have experienced his work with these two great men firsthand.  But the next best thing is to read about we did!  Chris was an admin for O'Neill...and so continues the Boston College Holy Cross Informal Irish Catholic Friendly Mafia. (This also includes many other Jesuit/Catholic institutions-see our book review on Regis of Notre Dame).

We cannot emphasize enough how strongly we believe this should be required reading for everyone in the Executive Branch of our Washington DC government (and then they should have a required test they must pass after to make sure they read it), and it would not hurt for all members of the Senate and the House to read it as well.  We are greatly saddened by how the children of America today are growing up with those in our government so at odds with each other and so disinterested in getting along, compromising, and accomplishing work that they should be honored to do for our great nation.  So, these children too one day should read this so they see how government should be done.   

As a child of the 80's we know this to be how government is meant to work and it inspired Peachy to secure her very first job ever for her Congresswoman from Connecticut on Capitol Hill.   Go Cannon House Office Building! Reagan and O'Neill both knew that this was their last act, and it's better than any Broadway show you'll ever see: it's real life, it's sincere, it's civil, it's loyally patriotic and no one except someone that was there like Chris could chronicle it better.   Reagan is our first memory of what a President should be, and like every other kid Peachy read Shoe, and later did study at O'Neill library (though she was more inspired at Conte Forum where she did actually study when it was empty.)

First off, on the first page of the Preface we must commend Matthews for using whom properly.  We like the pictures at the start of each chapter including those of young Chris and Tip O'Neill's campaign posters.  We like Chris's work ethic and attitude as he started as a Capitol policeman and eight years later he was writing speeches for a President (Carter).  

We didn't know O'Neill ran for Cambridge City Council while still a Boston College senior and that he was on the show Cheers-this book is full of fantastic tidbits that you'll learn.  He also won federal money for Boston College and other universities and also for the Big Dig in Boston.  We would have learned more on Reagan but we knew most of Reagan's history already.  We like the bellowing loudest story quite a lot (p. 198).

We love that Reagan and O'Neill are men of their word and so loved the story on page 52:
"When Reagan's top lobbyist asked his support in getting the debt ceiling raised, the Massachusetts Democrat made a simple request.  He wanted Max Friedersdorf to relay back to his boss precisely what the deal would be, which was that he, Tip O'Neill, wanted a personal note from the president to each and every Democratic member of the House asking for his or her support in the matter of raising the debt ceiling.  Friedersdorf agreed on the spot and carried the message back to Reagan.  The asked-for letters arrived the next day-all 243 of them."

We have been telling you since January 2009 when Whom You Know began that getting things done is all about relationships.  When Reagan was shot and in the hospital the first person from Washington politics permitted to see him was O'Neill and when Tip arrived he said the 23rd Psalm on his knees.   Later on, Reagan tells Tip if he had a ticket to heaven and Tip didn't have one, Reagan would give his away and go to hell with Tip.  Can you imagine anyone in Washington behaving like this today?  More importantly, these men meant what they said and did and their genuine spirit of brotherhood warms our heart in remembering them.  Also, they gave credit when credit was due and publicly thanked each other.  This book reminded us of President Kennedy's great book Profiles in Courage and today almost no one reminds us of someone courageous in government-perhaps Chris Christie.

You'll learn exercises in spin (p. 176) and admitting you have a problem and coming clean is terribly necessary.  Do not miss Chris's best explanations for the behavior (at its best) of our two friends starting on page 366...
All politics is local, respect and communication are essential, and goodness gracious, is it 6 o'clock yet?  It probably is in heaven, all the time, and we know they'll love this book up there.

Tip and the Gipper is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know.  Read one for the Gipper, & the Tipper!


In an age when government is mired in partisan gridlock, and intransigent politicians refuse to consider compromise, the relationship between President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill in the 1980s is often cited as a model of a more effective partisanship. As MSNBC host Chris Matthews shows in TIP AND THE GIPPER: When Politics Worked (October 1, 2013/$29.95 hardcover), these two men, the liberal and the conservative, proved that convictions are a strength not a burden in moving the government forward. 

TIP AND THE GIPPER is a magnificent personal history of a time when two great political opponents served together for the benefit of the country. Matthews was an eyewitness to this story as a top aide to Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, who waged a principled war of political ideals with President Reagan from 1980 to 1986. Together, the two men debated the big issues, but also forged compromises that shaped America’s future and became one of history’s most celebrated political pairings—the epitome of how ideological opposites can get things done. 

When Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency in a landslide victory over Jimmy Carter (for whom Matthews had worked as a speechwriter), Speaker O’Neill realized Americans had voted for a change. For the first time in his career, O’Neill also found himself thrust into the national spotlight as the highest-ranking leader of the Democratic Party—the most visible and respected challenger to President Reagan’s agenda. 

At first, O’Neill doubted his ability to compete on the public stage with the charming Hollywood actor, whose polished speeches played well on TV, a medium O’Neill had never mastered. Over time, the burly Irishman learned how to fight the popular president on his key issues, relying on legislative craftiness, strong rhetoric, and even guerrilla theater. “An old dog can learn new tricks,” Tip told his staff. Of O’Neill, one of his colleagues said, “If Martians came into the House chamber, they’d know instantly who the leader was.” 

Meanwhile, President Reagan proved to be a much more effective and savvy leader than his rivals had ever expected, achieving major legislative victories on taxes and the federal budget. Reagan and his allies knew how to work the levers of power in Washington. After showing remarkable personal fortitude in the wake of the assassination attempt against him, Reagan never let his political differences with Democrats become personal. He was fond of the veteran Speaker’s motto that political battles ended at 6 p.m. So when he would phone O’Neill, he would say, “Hello, Tip, is it after six o’clock?” 

Together, the two leaders fought over the major issues of the day—welfare, taxes, covert military operations, and Social Security—but found their way to agreements that reformed taxes, saved Social Security, and achieved their common cause of bringing peace to Northern Ireland. O’Neill’s quiet behind-the-scenes support helped Reagan forge his historic Cold War–ending bond with Mikhail Gor­bachev. They each won some and lost some, and through it all they maintained respect for each other’s positions and worked to advance the country rather than obstruct progress. 

As Matthews notes, “There is more than one sort of heroic behavior, and they don’t all look the same.” TIP AND THE GIPPER is the story of the kind of heroism we need today. 

About the author 

Chris Matthews is the host of MSNBC’s “Hardball.” His most recent bestseller is Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, which spent three months on the New York Times bestseller list. He is also the author of Hardball; Kennedy and Nixon; Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think; and American: Beyond Our Grandest Notion. 

About the book 

Title: TIP AND THE GIPPER: When Politics Worked 

Author: Chris Matthews 

Publication Date: October 1, 2013 

Pages: 448 

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