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"Man of the House" A Must-Read for Political Discussion Addicts

  1. GA Anderson profile image84
    GA Andersonposted 4 months ago

    I am about half-way through "Man Of The House," an autobiography by Tip, (Tom), O'Neil and William Novak, and I have been thinking about my fellow Politics and Social Issues forum dwellers since the very first chapter.

    Tip O'Neil started his political career in Massachusetts in 1936, and was Speaker for the United States House of Representatives for 10 years, (1977-1987).

    All the political issues we discuss were there; patronage, political maneuverings, backroom deals, straw candidates to split voting blocks, and yes, there were some tales of actual corruption. And for the icing on the cake, there is a lot of discussion about the Kennedys. From senior Joe's efforts to promote his sons, to JFK's political track to the presidency. (you are going to love reading about Boston politics and the Kennedys)

    But... I know it sounds crazy, but most of the stuff from his time wasn't contrary to public interest. For instance, the patronage issues, (mostly from his time in the Massachusetts legislature  in the WWII era),  were mostly everyday citizens going to their representatives for help getting jobs - not as a return of favors, but just asking their rep for help. (not unlike our citizens of today going to their Reps. for Academy recommendations) It seems that every year there were a limited number of temp jobs helping the post office, they paid $100 p/week, for a couple weeks, and as O'Neil describes it - those temp jobs could make the deference between an OK Christmas and a crap Christmas. My point being that the patronage described wasn't the kind that put a political contributor into a high-paying cushy job, but the kind that helped average constituents.

    I think I recall that patronage for local government posts, (like post office or administrator jobs), were/are a big part of British politics too.

    That was just an example. The one recurring point was that politics is one thing, but friendship and a man's word were another. Even Pres. Reagan spoke of him, (in his own autobiography),  as a   fiercest political foe - but one that you could sit down and have a drink and discussion with at the end of the day.

    This book should be a must-read for political discussion addicts.

    GA

    1. ahorseback profile image40
      ahorsebackposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      Interesting ,   I remember well the Reagan --O'neil  games ,    I have often wondered , What ever happened to the civility of opposition ideologies !

      Gentleman Politics .

      1. GA Anderson profile image84
        GA Andersonposted 4 months agoin reply to this

        Yes ahorseback, Pres. Reagan did have some tough fights with O'Neil leading partisan attacks on his policy efforts, but, as you mentioned, it was truly ideological differences, not personal rancor.

        In reading O'Neil's description of political episodes from around 1940 to the 1980s, the one thing that seemed to be missing, then, is today's personal character assassinations.

        But I don't want to paint too innocent a picture of Mr. Tip O'Neil. Consider this related anecdote;

        In one of his Massachusetts' races he was having a tough campaign, and one of his political associates, a former disgraced mayor asked if he could raise some cash for O'Neil. O'Neil said yes, and the following week the fellow told O'Neil he had raised $500 for him and handed him an envelope of cash. Later, when O'Neil counted the cash it was only $450! The following week the fellow said he raised a $1000 for him, and handed him another envelope of cash. But it only contained $900. O'Neil's helper was taking a 10% commission - and O'Neil was OK with that.  When O'Neil asked for the contributor's names so he could thank them, the mayor said they had already been thanked - and O'Neil was Ok with that too.

        But the kicker is that a few years later, an incident with one of the contributors that gave the former mayor money for O'Neil, caused O'Neil to realize that he was the one getting the short end of the stick - by a lot more than just 10%. And that was the political atmosphere that Tip O'Neil's political talents grew in.

        GA

    2. promisem profile image94
      promisemposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      The Tip O'Neil and Ronald Reagan relationship was a classic. It's a shame that we don't have more of them in DC today.

      I suspect they made the typical public announcements that appealed to their respective parties and then got things done together behind the scenes.

      1. Credence2 profile image83
        Credence2posted 4 months agoin reply to this

        Truly nostalgic, both Tip ONeal and President Reagan, although ideological opposites, were appreciative of the art of compromise. Compared to the madness today, the 80s had to be considered "the good old days" in comparison.

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 4 months agoin reply to this

          It has indeed gone downhill, hasn't it?  Sad.

          1. Credence2 profile image83
            Credence2posted 4 months agoin reply to this

            Yes, indeed, and I don't know what is will take to bring either side away from the brink.

            Since the GOP is in charge of White House and Congress, the ball is now in their court to demonstrate that they are willing to compromise with the other side.

        2. GA Anderson profile image84
          GA Andersonposted 4 months agoin reply to this

          I think you are right about that Credence2, and I did think of you when reading this book. I know I have prodded you on a couple other books, but I think you would really enjoy this one. It is less than 400 pages, well written, (Novak is excellent. He has co-authored several other great political figure's books), and it's only a couple dollars on Half,com.

          I even have an extra hardcover copy I will mail to you, free, if you are comfortable giving me your address in a private message. (I picked up a copy at the flea market only to find I already had one at home that I hadn't read yet) I promise not to "stalk" you for your PROGRESSIVE! attitudes, and you really would enjoy the book - O'Neil was a Progressive Democrat too.

          So give my offer some thought.

          GA

          1. Credence2 profile image83
            Credence2posted 4 months agoin reply to this

            Thanks, for the offer, having the book in hand is an incentive in itself to read it through. My house is littered with great books that I have meant to read but never found the time. Not like in the eighties as a single man who while working spent the much of his time in recreational reading. Eye strain is a factor for me,too as since I have glasses and don't take as much pleasure in reading volumous books the way I us to,(Jakes, Michener)

            Ironic, being married and retired, I seem to have less time than I did when I was single even though engaged in work.

            I will get back with you on the particulars of the arrangement through e-mail.

            1. GA Anderson profile image84
              GA Andersonposted 4 months agoin reply to this

              I know what you mean about finding the time bud. (I have a stack a couple feet high that I am trying to whittle down), so I turned to multitasking. I always have a book in the car for whenever I have to wait for something, a book on my night-table for as much as my tired eyes can stay open for, a current "main" read, (like this one), that lays on my computer desk, and another in one other place I won't mention because my wife says so.

              I don't recall ever reading any Michener, but as you will remember - I am a huge John Jakes fan.

              To get back to O'Neil, So far I am just where he becomes a freshman House Representative, but even though I disagree with many of his ideas, and even though he was a political animal that wasn't afraid to play hardball... so far I have not perceived any but the best intentions of his efforts to help his constituents and his party. (it's the "party" part I do have trouble with)

              I am beginning to understand why even his political opponents, (and enemies), respected him. But he was a man of his times. Now-a-days his antics would probably play-out in public like Pres. Trump's efforts do now.

              GA

              1. Credence2 profile image83
                Credence2posted 4 months agoin reply to this

                Michener is one hell of a saga writer. I have only read one his books, Centennial. The story was about the Colorado territory beginning with early 19th century fur trappers and explorers to what was to become the State of Colorado and it sprawling 'front range'. Since the period the book was written, a City by the name Centennial, Colorado was incorporated.

                I was fully engaged during the Eighties, concerned about Reagan and the remote fears of his dismantling the New Deal in favor of 'Supply Side Economic" courtesy of David Stockman. Disagreements did not bring the government operations to a halt. Opposing poles from either party stayed within the parameters of compromise.

                I may have told you before, compared with the players today, Reagan was a prince. His optimism was infectious and you really wanted to give his Polly Anna ideas for America a chance, because he truly believed them.

                He had the balls to personally address the Denver Urban League in 1981,with the message that there was anew sheriff in town and that the current direction of the American economy was going to change starkly and we were certain to disapprove of the changes.

                Ive got a soft spot for men with courage, I actually lost my bearings and wanted to give him a chance. I couldn't help butto admire the way he handled the attempted assassination. Passionate and authentic Trumps amoral,expedient and cowardly every time

                1. GA Anderson profile image84
                  GA Andersonposted 4 months agoin reply to this

                  Holy Cow! Talk about a "senior moment!" I have read that book! I loved it. I was especially impressed by the way the author wove the actual history of the territory into his story. Do you recall the particular Indian tribe, and chief, that he chronicled? And the actual dinosaur fossil pit finds that he incorporated?

                  One of the most poignant real-life facts he incorporated was that tribe's tradition of confiscating all the worldly goods, (including the best teepee poles, (which were valuable finds in that territory)) of a dead chief's wife, and banishing her, because without "a man" she could not contribute to the survival of the tribe.

                  Damn! It's like a damn burst. The failure of the town because the turnip plant closed, (not a joke), the loss of crop soil from following erroneous plowing techniques to compensate for such little rainfall, I am drowning in memories of that book. You are right, it was a fantastic read. I just didn't recall it as being by Michener.  Hell, I didn't even remember reading it until your title mention joggled my search algorithm.

                  Double damn! Now I wonder what else I have forgotten. Maybe I am a Bitcoin millionaire and just don't remember what file I stashed them in. ;-)

                  But back to politics. If Pres. Reagan had that effect on you, a Progressive, then you can imagine the effect he had on us like-minded folks. Your description of him is very accurate. Even my reads by his enemies say the same thing about him.

                  ps..you know there is still a valid debate about the effectiveness of his "supply-side" economic policies. It is hard to argue with the historical statistics that show his era was one of our longest stretches of prosperity we have had.  ... just say'n

                  GA

                  1. Credence2 profile image83
                    Credence2posted 4 months agoin reply to this

                    I have forgotten so much about the book as I must read it 35 years ago at a minimum. You can probably get more information from a synopsis of the book on line, as my memory is faulty. Two names stood out, Mc Keeg and Brambaugh.

                    During the heyday of lavish network miniseries, seventies and eighties, right up there with Roots, Eleanor and Franklin, The Winds of War, etc. was Centennial. The dramatic version was excellent and had everyone on their seats to see what would happen next. It might actually on you tube these days, it is a great show.

                    Reagan has been credited for bringing us back from the brink, but with the stagnation of the Carter years all we could do was go up. Do conservatives give Obama credit to staving off the possibility of a depression in the aftermath of Bush's term?

                  2. GA Anderson profile image84
                    GA Andersonposted 4 months agoin reply to this

                    Oops! Correction. I just remembered it was a Sugar Beet factory, not a turnip factory. But anyway, like many small towns today, the factory was the lifeblood of the community that grew-up around it. And when the factory closed - the town died.

                    GA

      2. GA Anderson profile image84
        GA Andersonposted 4 months agoin reply to this

        I understand your thought promisem, but readings from a several different sources - including Reagan and O'Neil's autobiographies, show that most of the compromises, (none that I have read ever caused me to think of them as 'backroom deals, they always seemed to be pragmatic understandings), they may have ended up with were on details, never principles or ideologies. Pres. Reagan was particularly frustrated with O'Neil's partisan stubbornness, but always qualified his criticisms by noting it was never personal with O'Neil, and outside the halls of Congress they were almost friends.

        But you are certainly right that it is a shame that we don't seem to  have those types of leadership qualities in too many of our elected representatives today.

        GA

        1. ahorseback profile image40
          ahorsebackposted 4 months agoin reply to this

          It's pretty simple , There used to  even be an order to the conflict in differing political conversations .  manners for one , But  the blacking out of media integrity , accuracy and honesty by the left , wasn't part of the picture then .Now  to the left ,"free speak" has become one speak

          TODAY, this atmosphere is what we get when the ideology of the left declares war on common thought , open media and obstructs  due process in all political conversation and legislative process .

          1. Credence2 profile image83
            Credence2posted 4 months agoin reply to this

            And so the radical right is innocent and pure as wind driven snow? I doubt it.

            1. ahorseback profile image40
              ahorsebackposted 4 months agoin reply to this

              The diff ?  The radical right is miniscule , The radical left IS the left .

              1. Credence2 profile image83
                Credence2posted 4 months agoin reply to this

                The Radical Right is the BULK of the GOP today.

          2. GA Anderson profile image84
            GA Andersonposted 4 months agoin reply to this

            Hey ahorseback, you are right that media integrity took a dive - about the time cable started the 24-hour news channels, and is now viewed as a profit center - rather then a bastion of honest efforts. And you are right about the deceitful nature of the PC efforts, but your "left Free speak" and media bias tirades are just the left foot replacing the right foot of the OIbama years.

            These Left-speak and whining Leftist media rants are just a different version of the Right's pre-Trump whining and rants, and don't have a thing to do with the history of Tip O'Neil's political life.

            GA

            1. ahorseback profile image40
              ahorsebackposted 4 months agoin reply to this

              We'll have to agree to disagree on media bias , how much , how long or how often it occurs and   Just how balanced even the opposing bias' are  is between office incumbent  Ideologies .   Have been around longer than probably most forum writers  , I can say that liberal media bias has for decades been a thorn in my side. And , more than likely that the mainstream news is more liberally biased , It simply has to be  given it's origins  and birth in academia ..  Let's face it , accuracy , integrity and ideological balance is a thing of the past.

              Today --- It is not just left , it is pretty far left in it's obstructionism, instructionalism of our younger more impressionable minds . That cannot be  debated or denied .

              By the way ,please  show me the  Tip O'niel of today

              1. GA Anderson profile image84
                GA Andersonposted 4 months agoin reply to this

                Speaker O'Neil died in 1994, so it would be hard to show the O'Neil of today.

                But in reference to what I think you are referring to - that some of his political efforts of his time, that were not seen as particularly evil or corrupt, but would be viewed so today; here is a passage dealing with the Kennedy years and his brother Teddy's first political campaign:

                (plagiarized, and condensed, from the book)

                The set-up:
                President Kennedy had a good rapport with the Speaker of the House John McCormack.
                - McCormack's nephew was going to run against Teddy, and was projected to lose badly.
                - The President didn't want the Speaker to think he was advocating for Teddy, or hold his nephew's  looming humiliating defeat against him and hurt their political relationship.
                - He asked Tip O'neil to act as an intermediary to find a way out both sides could agree on.


                Can you imagine how that would have played out in today's political arena?

                GA

    3. PrettyPanther profile image85
      PrettyPantherposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      Alas, it is not yet available on Kindle. I'll keep an eye out for it. I can barely read most books anymore unless they are on my Kindle where I can use a larger font.

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 4 months agoin reply to this

        Sorry to hear that, PP.  I went through the same thing before my cataract surgery - went from a book a week (or more) to one per year before I found electronic books.  Hoping there is something that can be done for you, too.

        1. PrettyPanther profile image85
          PrettyPantherposted 4 months agoin reply to this

          My problem is different. I have retinal histoplasmosis from a fungal infection I apparently contracted  when I was a toddler. My retina has tiny "dents" that, over time, can start to bleed. I get injections to stop the bleeds but I end up with scarring on my retina that results in gaps in my vision. I was recently fitted with a new type of contact lens that has restored my vision to 20-50 for driving. Doesn't help with reading, though.

          My 58-year-old eyes are more like an 88-year old. The upside is when I go to the eye specialist and observe the clientele in the waiting room, I feel very, very young. ;-)

      2. GA Anderson profile image84
        GA Andersonposted 4 months agoin reply to this

        Sorry to hear that PrettyPanther. I doubt it will make it to Kindle. Googlebooks says there is no eBook version available.

        Get a page magnifier! This book is worth the effort for us political discussion addicts, (at least us addicts that like to know the history of what we are talking about).

        Here is a link to a brief review, with a couple anecdotal examples  that just might wet your appetite enough to consider the effort.

        GA

        1. PrettyPanther profile image85
          PrettyPantherposted 4 months agoin reply to this

          I have one but I confess I find it cumbersome and annoying. I've been meaning to take the time to research and find a better one, so here's my motivation.

  2. ahorseback profile image40
    ahorsebackposted 4 months ago

    My point in asking "Who is the Tip Oneal  of today ?"     Meant , is N. Pelosi, H  Reid , maybe Barbara Boxer  or  Diane Feinstein ?     True political talent is best fondly remembered  ,  it is sorely lacking today , on both sides .

    1. Perspycacious profile image76
      Perspycaciousposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      Sad it is that "Americans first, and politicians second" seems so out of the comprehension of today's political leadership.  It seems to be more "My vision of America first, and how blind can YOU be?"

 
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