Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review - Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked by Chris Matthews

Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked by Chris Matthews
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 1, 2013)

Hardball host Chris Matthews tells the story of how Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill and President Ronald Reagan, two political opponents, were able to work together for the good of America.  Matthews worked for the speaker at the time before he switched to a career in journalism.  Having worked for O'Neill, Matthews is qualified to tell the history of the two leaders.

One can look to the 1980s leadership of O'Neill and Reagan as a model for effective partisanship, something that clearly lacks between Barack Obama and the current Republican leadership.  When it came to moving the government forward, they proved that convictions were a strength and not a burden.

During the 1980s, these two waged a principled war of political ideals.  They debated the big issues of the day but they were also able to compromise with each other, showing that political opposites can get along together.

In serving as speaker, O'Neill was the visible leader of the Democratic Party in the post-Jimmy Carter years.  This also meant he was the respected challenger to Reagan's agenda.  O'Neill had yet to master the medium of public speaking on television but he learned how to fight Reagan on key issues, relied on legislative craftiness, strong rhetoric, and even guerrilla theater.

This is about the kind of heroism that we lack today.

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