cover image Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked

Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked

Chris Matthews. Simon & Schuster, $29.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1451695991

MSNBC host Matthews (Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero) draws from his personal journals, President Reagan's diary, and Speaker O'Neill's press conference transcripts to bring 1980s politics back to life. Matthews begins with the vastly different backgrounds of the two men. He contrasts their styles and politics before moving through the Reagan years in a highly-detailed narrative. Matthews's' thesis is that the government's functionality at the time is largely attributed to the relationship of Reagan and 'O'Neill, who both used the check-and-balance design of their positions to "propel the republic forward%E2%80%94even when the will of the people was different from his own." Readers relive the attempted assassination, the air traffic control strike, and the Iran-Contra affair, all presented in Matthews's easy, conversational style. Matthews offers little direct commentary on today's contrasting "government by tantrum," allowing the events and personalities to speak for themselves; an acceptable omission, given the numerous examples of cooperation he cites concerning Social Security, the budget and taxes, and foreign policy. Part history, part Washington inside story, part career memoir, this inspiring story of two remarkable men is recommended for political junkies and insiders alike. (Oct.)