17 March 2013

Ronald Reagan: DAMN Proud to Be Irish!

As House Speaker for 6/8 of the Reagan years, bombastic spendaholic Tip O'Neill was one of the fiercest opponents of the Gipper's entire agenda, fighting it tooth-and-nail to the end.
He even called Reagan a 'cheerleader for selfishness' and 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 the blobular O'Neill and the then-trendy Pac-Man video game, as
'a round thing that gobbles up money'.

Yet despite the professional animosity, Reagan often said the two were 'friends after 6pm'... and both plenty proud of their shared Celtic Irish heritage. In fact, the Saint Patrick's Day Speaker's Luncheon -apparently cancelled this year- has been a tradition initially established by Reagan and O'Neill back in '83-

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