In another entry for the “strange but true” chronicles, liberal MSNBC host Chris Matthews will give a lecture and sign books at none other than the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
Matthews’ book, “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked,” is scheduled to be published Oct. 1. The library describes the book on its website this way:
In “Tip and the Gipper”, Chris Matthews, Tip O’Neill’s former Chief-of-Staff, shares the one-of-a-kind story of the friendship between President Reagan and the Speaker of the House. Drawing not only on his own remarkable knowledge from working with Speaker O’Neill for six years but on extensive interviews with those closest to his subjects, Matthews brings this unlikely friendship to life, rendering a lively and novelistic read and a timely object lesson in how bipartisan cooperation can work.
The Oct. 9 event is drawing ire from Reagan aficionados, one of whom voiced her displeasure on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program Friday.
“To me it’s like Satan writing a book about the pope and having a signing at the Vatican,” the caller, identified as Judy of Valencia, Calif., said. “I just can’t even imagine the Reagan library doing this and it’s very upsetting. I’ve gone to many book signings there and this is just outrageous.”
Having not heard of the event, Limbaugh wouldn’t speculate on why the library would host it, but he liked her analogy and responded this way:
“I imagine… There’s a myth out there, and that is that Reagan and Tip O’Neill were good buddies ’cause they had their Irish heritage in common — and they mighta gone at each other all day, every day, but then at the end of the day they’d sit down for a beer. I can tell you, that didn’t happen. Tip O’Neill didn’t go to the residence quarters for beer, and Reagan didn’t cross the street to the Old Ebbitt Grill and meet Tip O’Neill there for a beer or a Jamison after work.
“That’s just liberal mythology, and it’s recent. It’s a distortion. I’ll bet you Matthews builds on it, or relies on it. It’s part of a distortion to show, “Even back in those days, there was bipartisanship, and people worked together, even with Reagan and O’Neill,” as a means of attacking Republicans today as being uncooperative, strictly partisan. All I can tell you is that it’s a myth, that Tip O’Neill and Reagan were good buddies and they put aside all their differences at the end of the day. Tip O’Neill, at the end of the day, had just as much rotten stuff to say about Reagan as he did during the day.”
Limbaugh said Matthews’ book was written on a flawed premise for the purpose of making money, and following a break, he read several quotes O’Neill made about Reagan:
“The evil is in the White House at the present time. 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.”
“He only works three to three-and-a-half hours a day. He doesn’t do his homework. He doesn’t read his briefing papers. It’s sinful that this man is president of the United States. He lacks the knowledge that he should have, on every sphere, whether it’s the domestic or whether it’s the international sphere.” In his own memoir, O’Neill wrote, “I’ve known every president since Harry Truman, and there’s no question in my mind that Reagan was the worst.”
Limbaugh concluded by saying Matthews is making an effort to get under Republicans’ skin.
“It’s an attack on Republicans,” Limbaugh said.
All books signed must be purchased at the Reagan Library Museum store.