Thomas P. O'neill Essay

1781 words - 7 pages

Thomas P. O'NeillTip was a man who was not bashful to call himself 'a man of the house.' Thomas P. O'Neill was a person whose greatest charm was that he seemed 'completely out-of-date as a politician.' (Clift) He was a gruff, drinking, card playing, backroom kind of guy. He had an image that political candidates pay consultants to make over. He knew these qualities gave him his power because they 'made him real.' (Sennot 17) His gigantic figure and weather beaten face symbolizes a political force of five decades, from Roosevelt's new deal to the Reagan retrenchment. He was the last democratic leader of the old school and 'the longest-serving speaker of the house (1977-1986) and easily the most loved.' (Clift)Thomas P. O'Neill (1912-1994) always knew why he was in Washington, and what he stood for. He was a native of Boston and always prided himself on his theory that 'all politics is local.' (O'Neill 1) Tip was a friend of everyone. When ordinary people wanted something of O'Neill he gave it to them. When anyone asked him a favor, he would do it. O'Neill served fifty years in public life and retired with only fifteen thousand dollars to his name. He devoted his life and his money to the people of Boston.Tip came of age in the Great Depression, arrived in congress from Massachusetts in 1952 and 'came to power amid the plenty of the '60s and '70s.' (Woodlief 4) He was a rampant liberal who 'would usually vote yes on any bill that helped people (he once voted to put money into an appropriations bill to study knock knees).' (Gelzinas 6) When Reagan came into office in 1980 big government began to feel the pinch and O'Neill's big hearted liberalism was on the way out. In 1980, O'Neill was a target of a clever Republican ad campaign that pictured him in a limo as a symbol of a bloated out of control congress. The advertisement backfired and it sent O'Neill into folk hero status. Tip even 'made an appearance on 'Cheers' as an effect of the advertisement.' (Time 18)Tip said that he 'only made one vote that he regretted.' (O'Neill 218) It was a yes vote on the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave Lyndon Johnson full control over all military intervention in Vietnam. He did this because it was a time when Congress did what leadership asked, in fact there was not one descending vote in the house on this issue (414-0). Right away he had speculation that the White House might use this as a device to open up full scale war in Vietnam. Tip had many questions about the war in Vietnam, but at first stuck with the saying by Samuel Rayburn, 'When it comes to foreign policy- support the Pres.'His attitude changed. He felt if the U.S. was to fight they should fight to win, and he did not think this was the case. Student kept badgering him with questions of his support of the foreign policy of Dean Rusk, the secretary of state. Finally a student got him with a question. A student at Boston College, Tip's alma matter, said, 'Sen. O'Neill you have told the public...

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