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Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked
     

Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked

4.0 31
by Chris Matthews
 

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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.

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. Chris Matthews was an eyewitness to this story as a top

Overview

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.

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. Chris 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 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 of shrinking the government and lowering taxes.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/30/2013
MSNBC host Matthews (Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero) draws from his personal journals, President Reagan's diary, and Speaker O'Neill's press conference transcripts to bring 1980s politics back to life. Matthews begins with the vastly different backgrounds of the two men. He contrasts their styles and politics before moving through the Reagan years in a highly-detailed narrative. Matthews's' thesis is that the government's functionality at the time is largely attributed to the relationship of Reagan and 'O'Neill, who both used the check-and-balance design of their positions to "propel the republic forward—even when the will of the people was different from his own." Readers relive the attempted assassination, the air traffic control strike, and the Iran-Contra affair, all presented in Matthews's easy, conversational style. Matthews offers little direct commentary on today's contrasting "government by tantrum," allowing the events and personalities to speak for themselves; an acceptable omission, given the numerous examples of cooperation he cites concerning Social Security, the budget and taxes, and foreign policy. Part history, part Washington inside story, part career memoir, this inspiring story of two remarkable men is recommended for political junkies and insiders alike. (Oct.)
New York Daily News - Stanley Crouch
“A superb tribute to the neglected art of compromise.”
author of Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century - John Farrell
"Matthews gives us an engaging, inside perspective (with creditable modesty about his own important role) of the mighty struggle between Ronald Reagan and Speaker Tip O'Neill, and how they bent, when they had to, to the national interest. There are many books written by Reagan's White House staffers, but this is the only account (aside from O'Neill's charming memoir) from inside the Speaker's office, and a valuable addition to American political history."
Mother Jones - David Corn
"[A] gripping, behind-the-scenes, first-person account. . . . Though he was a front-row participant in the story, he admirably adopts an even-handed approach (not shying away from pointing out O'Neill's missteps) to serve up his big point: political combat is necessary and important for the nation, but it need not be self-destructive and nuclear. . . . Matthews is providing a public service by recounting an era when even the most ardent partisan gladiators could bend toward pragmatism."
Politico.com - Mike Allen
"Chris Matthews draws on his 30-year-old journals for [a] rich new book on Ronald Reagan, Tip O'Neill"
Washington Post - Howell Raines
“A fortuitous pairing of subject and author. . . Matthews’s account is pleasant reading, both useful and entertaining. . . The book succeeds in making Boehner’s, or the tea party’s, House look like a confederacy of dunces, addicted to 'government by tantrum.' Praise for Reagan’s skill at reaching across party lines also contrasts with President Obama’s stand-offish image. Their clashes looked feverish at the time, but this book is an invitation to join Tip and the Gipper in tall tales about how grand it was in the old country."
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
An amiable but tough-minded political ramble with TV pundit Matthews (Jack Kennedy, 2011, etc.), who records a political mood clearly in need of revival. "Don't get caught obstructing the political process. Give Reagan his chance." So said an aide to Thomas O'Neill, Speaker of the House during the Reagan presidency. O'Neill, as anyone who remembers him will recall, was a blustering, tough Bostonian who came up through the ranks of Congress, a consummate political insider; Reagan, by contrast, liked to portray himself as an outsider somehow innocent of the machine. Yet Reagan also knew a number of things that kept his popularity reasonably high during his terms--for one, that Americans like to feel good about themselves, which he played to the hilt. His politics are still being played out today in the suspicion of all government programs and the conviction that all taxes are bad, which led to what now seems a curious accommodation between O'Neill and Reagan. In trying to push through one set of proposals that involved an increase on some taxpayers, Reagan faced a revolt in his own party and required O'Neill's help in enlisting sufficient Democratic votes to "sell the public a budget with so large a deficit." Though it was not all beer and skittles ("Tip refused to let me speak to the House," Reagan recorded in his diary. "I'm going to rub his nose in this one"), that accommodation spoke to what Matthews regards as a bygone bipartisan spirit that, as he notes, was like gladiatorial combat in that it made each opponent seem stronger and better in the contest simply for each to be up against the other--especially two opponents who liked to out-Irish each other. The idea of compromise and reconciliation being anathema these days, it's no wonder nothing happens on the Hill. Matthews' solid book points to a way out for "people who care about our republic."
From the Publisher

"Kirkus Reviews

2013-09-15

An amiable but tough-minded political ramble with TV pundit Matthews (Jack Kennedy, 2011, etc.), who records a political mood clearly in need of revival. ""Don't get caught obstructing the political process. Give Reagan his chance."" So said an aide to Thomas O'Neill, Speaker of the House during the Reagan presidency. O'Neill, as anyone who remembers him will recall, was a blustering, tough Bostonian who came up through the ranks of Congress, a consummate political insider; Reagan, by contrast, liked to portray himself as an outsider somehow innocent of the machine. Yet Reagan also knew a number of things that kept his popularity reasonably high during his terms--for one, that Americans like to feel good about themselves, which he played to the hilt. His politics are still being played out today in the suspicion of all government programs and the conviction that all taxes are bad, which led to what now seems a curious accommodation between O'Neill and Reagan. In trying to push through one set of proposals that involved an increase on some taxpayers, Reagan faced a revolt in his own party and required O'Neill's help in enlisting sufficient Democratic votes to ""sell the public a budget with so large a deficit."" Though it was not all beer and skittles (""Tip refused to let me speak to the House,"" Reagan recorded in his diary. ""I'm going to rub his nose in this one""), that accommodation spoke to what Matthews regards as a bygone bipartisan spirit that, as he notes, was like gladiatorial combat in that it made each opponent seem stronger and better in the contest simply for each to be up against the other--especially two opponents who liked to out-Irish each other. The idea of compromise and reconciliation being anathema these days, it's no wonder nothing happens on the Hill. Matthews' solid book points to a way out for ""people who care about our republic.""

"

Publishers Weekly

09/30/2013

MSNBC host Matthews (Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero) draws from his personal journals, President Reagan's diary, and Speaker O'Neill's press conference transcripts to bring 1980s politics back to life. Matthews begins with the vastly different backgrounds of the two men. He contrasts their styles and politics before moving through the Reagan years in a highly-detailed narrative. Matthews's' thesis is that the government's functionality at the time is largely attributed to the relationship of Reagan and 'O'Neill, who both used the check-and-balance design of their positions to ""propel the republic forward--even when the will of the people was different from his own."" Readers relive the attempted assassination, the air traffic control strike, and the Iran-Contra affair, all presented in Matthews's easy, conversational style. Matthews offers little direct commentary on today's contrasting ""government by tantrum,"" allowing the events and personalities to speak for themselves; an acceptable omission, given the numerous examples of cooperation he cites concerning Social Security, the budget and taxes, and foreign policy. Part history, part Washington inside story, part career memoir, this inspiring story of two remarkable men is recommended for political junkies and insiders alike. (Oct.)

"Mother Jones - David Corn

""[A] gripping, behind-the-scenes, first-person account. . . . Though he was a front-row participant in the story, he admirably adopts an even-handed approach (not shying away from pointing out O'Neill's missteps) to serve up his big point: political combat is necessary and important for the nation, but it need not be self-destructive and nuclear. . . . Matthews is providing a public service by recounting an era when even the most ardent partisan gladiators could bend toward pragmatism.""

"

Library Journal
The subtitle is certainly telling. Matthews, Tip O'Neill's former chief of staff for six years and now seen on the NBC-syndicated The Chris Matthews Show, portrays a civilized friendship between O'Neill and President Reagan even though their politics could not have been more different.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451695991
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.80(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Tip and the Gipper

  • “Jody’s a soldier.”

    Chief speechwriter Rick Hertzberg’s final salute to Jimmy Carter’s finest warrior. When all was lost, we still had to face the dawn.

  • Meet the Author

    Chris Matthews is anchor of MSNBC’s Hardball. He is author of Tip and the Gipper; Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero; Kennedy and Nixon; Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think; American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions; and Hardball: How Politics Is Played by One Who Knows The Game.

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    Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
    PaulH More than 1 year ago
    Tip and the Gipper is a great book. It details a time when politics worked – when Democrats and Republicans compromised for the betterment of the whole country. Author Chris Matthews did an excellent job researching this book and it is very educational.
    KellyKupchnik More than 1 year ago
    Tip and The Gipper is a great book. Very informative. Great perspective in the usually volatile world of politics. Five stars.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Chris Matthews has captured a time, I remember well, in an interesting & engaging way. The respect for the office & officer holder, Mr. Matthews distributed, is something we need desperately in today's Congress. If you have an interest in politics this is a book for you.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Appropriate to the times! Matthews examines the "ping and pong", as he phrases it, between President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neill. The two men had opposing views on many issues including tax cuts, Social Security, and foreign affairs, but the author sees both as men of principle with the sincere best interests of the country at heart. Can the same be said of the players in Washington today? Regardless of one's politics, this is worth reading if only to see how it's done.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I am old enough to remember this period and was fascinated by Mr. Matthews book..easy to read, informative and very accurate portrayal of what happened during those years.
    lib2012 More than 1 year ago
    I just started reading this book. It is really good. I wished politics worked like this relationship did.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    POTUS, Senate Majority Leader, and Speaker Of The House all should read this. And all members of congress should read the preface.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Quite a detailed account of how these two worked in a time when politics as usual was changing and the new President Ronald Reagan challenged the traditional way the Speaker of the House did his business. A transformational period in US political history that looking back was even more profound than when we were living it. While Chris was there to see it happen, he cleverly writes the book much more focussed on the two men in the Top seats and not so much how he was involved. I lived and worked in politics during that time and found it quite interesting.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Very insightful in describing the relationship between the Executive and Legislative branches of government and the critical role of the President and Speaker of the House in maintaining a balance of power to ensure that the interests of th American people are not corrupted by partisan politics. President Reagan and Speaker O'Neill demonstrated how responsible government officials can work together even when confronted with enormous budget and economic challenges. Much can be learned by our current dysfunctional Congress from "tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked".
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Where did our good politicians go...?
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Send a copy to our current Speaker, and show him how it's done!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The book was interesting. However, Chris Matthews sentimentalized Reagan and O'Neil. Reagan was a California guy who hated the liberal agenda. Tip O'Neil was not a Ted Kennedy or the other strong liberals in Congress at that period of time. Matthews made Reagan sound like he was this likeable guy. When in reality he was a conservative who hated the poor in the country and loved the rich. Reagan was a conservative and only used his Irish heritage as a prop when he needed it. It was an interesting read but not reality based. Sorry Mr. Matthews but you over glorified Reagan and O' Neil. Would still recommend the book. Just as a read for people to understand the workings of politics.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Tip and the Gipper is a great read. Not sure who these negative critics are with the 1 stars. They obviously have "not" read the book. Whether you're a "Hardball" viewer or not, this book paints a portrait of these two 1980 political titans that will attract both Reagan and O'Neill admirers. It couldn't come out at a better time! When partisanship was still a factor, both men found a way to communicate and compromise. Matthews does an admirable job at providing insight into the men as told by someone who was there! He gives a perspective that is not judgemental and unlike so many other authors, Matthews actually does his own research, let alone writes his own books. Can't recommend this enough!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Shows how two sides can work together and compromise to get things done. None of the hate as happens on a daily basis. At the end of the day they work together for the betterment of the country.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Always fun to read the inside story..."Hardball" is a winner when you have a real longball hitter!
    BobbyboyNJ More than 1 year ago
    I laughed, I cried, I winced and I absolutely loved Chris Matthew's approach and skills in this book. Chris was there! It is not some author writing from afar. He lived it and obviously loved. What made this book even better is Chris's relationships with everyone. I think this book will stand the test of time. Chris has been honest in his assessments. I can attest for many of them as a student of political science and the child of a politician.
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