Chris Matthews has written an article for the Boston Globe titled “When Politics Was Friendly.” Although President Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neill had their political differences, he says, they were actually pals.
O’Neill repeatedly attacked Reagan at a very personal level. “The evil is in the White House at the present time,” he said in July 1984. “And that evil is a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and the future generations of America, and who likes to ride a horse. He’s cold. He’s mean. He’s got ice water for blood.”
In her memoir, Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan quoted Chief of Staff Don Regan: “Sometimes they’d have a meeting and Tip would be there and they’re laughing and getting along and it’s very warm. And then,’ Reagan made a fist and punched it into his palm, ‘Tip would leave, go up to the Hill and turn on him just like a snake! It was treachery!’”
— John J. Pitney Jr. is Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College.