Newstalgia Reference Room with House Leader Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill discussing Vietnam, Watergate, Gerald Ford, Congress and the Press, civility and 1976 during an interview on Washington Straight Talk from April 28, 1975.
February 18, 2011

Gerald Ford, Silvio Conte, Tip O'Neill - laughter and knives all in the same room.

With all the hatred, rancor and vitriol flowing out of the halls of Congress of late, you wonder if it's always been this way. Has there always been this much division and sheer disgust for opposing schools of political and philosophical thought in Washington politics since the time of Washington?

The answer is no. If anything, it's been a recent phenomenon, no doubt fueled by the Media and its "Age Of Springer" mentality. By interest groups, and by malcontents.

I ran across this interview with then-House Majority Leader Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neil, given on the Washington Straight Talk Program of April 28, 1975. Among the subjects discussed, was the relationship O'Neill had with members of the opposing party. In talking about President Ford, he said this:

Thomas P “Tip” O’Neill: “Well of course the economy has gone bad and I don’t agree with his (Pres. Ford's) theory as far as the Vietnamese War is concerned. There’s one thing about Gerry Ford, interestingly enough, we’re social friends and we play Golf together I was in the House with him for 23 years. One of the great factors for America is, it’s different from other nations of the world that I can differ in my philosophy in government and yet I can still be friendly with the man. Other countries of the world don’t do that. I remember when Gerry Ford was elected . . .was sworn in as President of the United States, he made a telephone call to me one day concerning Mister Nixon. And he told me what he was going to and I told him I thought he was wrong at that particular time, and we talked about our Golf game and we talked about how his wife was feeling and how my Millie was and I said ‘Gerry, isn’t . .Mister President, isn’t it great that you and I can talk like this and yet, I said come sometime after the Summer and you’ll be a candidate for re-election possibly and I’ll be goin’ around the country I said, tearin’ you to ribbons, you and your philosophy and your policies and that you think of the days of the high-button shoe and that your satisfied with the status quo. But that’s America. He’s got a tough job. His philosophy is not my philosophy and I . . . .

Paul Duke (Interviewer): “Does he come to you for advice?”

O’Neill: “I wouldn’t say that he . . .well, to this degree – when we have leadership meetings there is indeed a dialog. Something that never happened under Mister Nixon.

Those days are long gone, but sheer attrition may make them return.

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