John Ford’s classic, “The Last Hurrah”, celebrated its 60th anniversary last year. It was still very timely and I frequently used a clip from the film during my working years until it was suggested I was riding a dead horse. Considering how things worked out, maybe even more timely than I imagined possible.
I didn’t agree then and don’t agree now.
In the movie, Spencer Tracy, aka Frank Skeffington — in reality, the Honorable James Michael Curley — explains how politics has become a media show — the number one spectator sport in the land.
I knew many of the real life characters from the movie based on the popular novel about Boston politics. “Tip” O’Neill, the late, legendary Speaker of the House, was my friend, confidante, and muse. O’Neill frequently explained how he cut bi-partisan deals while orchestrating “good cop-bad cop” scenarios so no one looked bad on “the hill.”
O’Neill said he used an end-game big picture hand to win big political pots. He knew how to bluff the bully boys who didn’t know when to walk away from the game.
Today, there is chaos on the hill. Madness from the White House. Insanity in the country. Who has the best hand? Some have already folded, walked away, or been pushed out entirely. If we are lucky, more will come. The cards are grimy and I’m pretty sure they need a new deck.
Tip O’Neill urged me to always look and listen beyond the sound and fury. He smiled in recollection of the deals brokered while end-of-days threats filled Congress. Sadly, there are no Tip O’Neills today, but his advice about not yielding remains valid and relevant. I wonder what he would do today?
When the rhetoric abated, it was our job to vote with intelligence and not fold our hand. Doesn’t look to me like we got it right. What do you think?