17 March 2011

Ronald Reagan: PROUD to be Irish!

As House Speaker for most of Ronald Reagan's two presidential terms, bombastic liberal spendaholic Tip O'Neill was one of the fiercest opponents of the entire Reagan agenda, fighting it tooth-and-nail for six years. He called Reagan a "cheerleader for selfishness" and even went so far as to personally attack him as "most ignorant man that has ever inhabited the White House".

Not one to be easily outwitted -but showing considerably more class and good humor- Reagan observed parallels between Yeltsin-esque Speaker O'Neill and the Pac-Man video game, as  "a round thing that gobbles up money".

Yet despite the professional animosity, Ronald Reagan often said the two were "friends after 6pm"... and both plenty proud of their Celtic Irish heritage. In fact, today's Saint Patrick's Day Speaker's Luncheon is a tradition initially established by Reagan and O'Neill back in 1983...

Despite being fierce opponents during the day, the two grew to be friends.

One story goes how President Reagan would call Speaker O’Neill and say, “Hey Tip, is it 6 o’clock yet?” in which Speaker O’Neill would reply, “Why yes it is Mr. President.” 

After the work day had ended, the two were known to have gone and shared a few drinks together at local DC establishments.

On March 17, 1983, Speaker Tip O’Neill, President Ronald Reagan and Minority Leader Bob Michel celebrated the first Speaker’s St. Patty’s Day luncheon after Reagan and O’Neill had suggested doing a luncheon together to celebrate their Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day

Originally held in H-209 of the Capitol building, then the Speaker’s office, the event has since moved to the Rayburn Room in the House side of the Capitol.

By Reagan's last Saint Patrick's Day in office -1988- Tip O'Neill had retired from the House of Representatives, so he headed over to Alexandria for a surprise visit to Pat Troy's Irish Pub...  

And the Gipper was in fine form: after a cold brew and some corned-beef-and-cabbage, he takes the mike at 4:00... besides the jokes, be sure to note the allegedly "ignorant" Reagan's extensive knowledge of Irish history and culture:

"I'm very leery of ethnic jokes in my position- 
the only ones I can tell are Irish!"    

So may the road rise to meet ya...

A happy and blessed Saint Pat's 
to all you lasses and laddies from the 
half-Irish, all-Catholic Reaganite Republican

Adrienne's Corner has 
St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer