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O'Neill, Tip

(("TIP"), U.S. politician (b. Dec. 19, 1912, Cambridge, Mass.--d. Jan. 5, 1994, Boston, Mass.), was a dyed-in-the-wool liberal Democrat who exerted considerable political clout as a longtime representative (1953-87) from Massachusetts and as the longest-serving (1977-86) speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. O'Neill, whose career spanned the era from New Deal liberalism to Ronald Reagan conservatism, was an old-style, behind-the-scenes politician who insisted that "all politics is local." A white-haired, cigar-chomping, larger-than-life figure, O'Neill was a shrewd manipulator who marshaled support in the back rooms of the Capitol rather than on the House floor. In 1967 he became the first member of the House leadership to oppose Pres. Lyndon Johnson vocally on the Vietnam War. O'Neill served as House majority whip in 1971 and majority leader in 1972 before being elevated to speaker. He earned the respect of his younger colleagues for approving legislative reform, including institution of a new ethics code and a limit on outside income. Even a Republican-sponsored advertisement featuring a O'Neill look-alike who was meant to symbolize a bloated, free-wheeling Congress not only failed to detract from O'Neill's popularity but rather enhanced it. He appeared on television commercials for a credit card company and played a cameo role on the TV comedy "Cheers." A best-selling autobiography, Man of the House, was published in 1987, and publication of a book of his anecdotes and lore, All Politics Is Local, coincided with his death.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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