For 10 years starting in the late 70s and running through the late 80s Speaker Tip O’Neill an Irish-Catholic from the streets of Cambridge, MA dominated the U.S. House of Representatives. He became extremely powerful because he was able to break (or cause gridlock) in the House. However, his ability to work with anyone and get legislation passed was what helped build his legacy.
Nancy Pelosi has earned her place as Speaker and she certainly is fluent in partisan-speak (as was Tip). However, she has yet to learn the nuanced voice of restraint and bi-partisan dialog, that made men like the former Speaker O’Neill giants in Washington, D.C.
With healthcare reform and the President seemingly under seige, it makes me yearn for the deft political ear and approach this political giant brought to bear while working with three Presidents (two of them Republicans).
Tip O’Neill happened to live and serve in a state transfixed by the Kennedy aura (I am one of them), but he deserves his own place in history as one of the longest serving Speakers (1977-1987), an effective legislator and a champion of social causes and justice.