The Nation: Two Who Will Run the House

Thomas Philip ("Tip") O'Neill Jr., who turned 64 last week, is the quintessential Boston Irish pol. Grandson of an immigrant bricklayer, he was a campaign worker for Alfred E. Smith at 15 and a candidate for the Cambridge city council at 22. He wound up 150 votes behind in the only election he has ever lost. A year later he was elected to the Massachusetts legislature, and was 36 when he became the first Democratic speaker of the house.

By coincidence, the powers of that speakership were comparable with those wielded by the Speaker of the national House until they were...

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