MSNBC host Chris Matthews’ most recent non-fiction book, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked has struggled to keep pace with some of its conservative competition on the New York Times best sellers list. A new review in this weekend’s Times Book Review isn’t likely to help the situation.
Reviewer David Greenberg describes Matthews as a cable news “snarling head” who fundamentally gets his history wrong when describing the relationship between President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr., for whom he worked as an aide. “For those familiar with his brand of confidently asserted overgeneralization,” Greenberg writes of Matthews, “the book is about what you would expect.”
Greenberg goes on to debunk the notion that Reagan and O’Neill “put politics aside at 6 o’clock” to make compromise deals that would help both Democrats and Republicans. “It’s a nice idea for a book,” he writes, “if only it were true.” He questions the “false symmetry” Matthews sets up between the two men, who he says were not on the same level in terms of political influence. Mocking Matthews’ emphasis on Reagan’s “Irishness,” Greenberg concludes, “He has a fine appreciation of blarney.”
Overall, its a highly damning review that wholly discounts the first-hand nature of Matthews’ account.
Read the full review at NYTimes.com.
[photo via Wikimedia Commons]
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