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  • Reverend James Squire

What Tip O’Neill and Joe Biden Know



President Biden’s style couldn’t be more different from Donald Trump’s tweets, character assassinations, and bullying. Tip O’Neill’s style has been a base for a lot of my relationships with others. Tip tells the story on himself. When he was a young person, he shoveled a woman’s sidewalk who lived across the street from him during every snow storm for free. When he was running for some low-level office, he learned that the woman whose walk he shoveled did not vote for him in that election. He was angry, crossed the street to her house, and asked her why. Her response was a classic, “Tip, everybody likes to be asked. You took my vote for granted.” From that comment, Tip developed his attitude to others. He said, “All politics is local!” which put him on the road to be Speaker of the House.


I would add, “Treat everybody as though your life depended on it! Someday it just might.” I mean that in a figurative sense, but later in life I found myself dealing with a heart issue and was in the hospital. My doctor was a former student, and my life literally depended on him.” He had a heavy patient load as a resident. I would have to encourage him to spend less time with me and more time with others. The point is people remember.


Biden operates in the same fashion whether it is a SEPTA train employee, a person who has lost a loved one, or someone just down on their luck! Stories about his responses to those in need are legendary.


There is a story about Biden being angry with arch conservative Jesse Helms who would not support a bill to benefit those with disabilities. He let the Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield know about his anger. Mansfield, in turn, let him know that Jesse Helms had adopted a child with disabilities. Biden felt like a fool, but he learned a very important lesson. Feel free to question another person’s judgement but not their motivations. In essence, you can argue a difference of opinion but never attack the personhood of another.


Always try to find a way to give somebody else the credit or the face time. Most of us in a high- profile position get enough recognition. Look around for someone who doesn’t. Honor people.

When it was thought that Senator Manchin wouldn’t support the Covid 19 Relief Bill, Biden went to him, sat down, and simply said, “Joe, you have to do what you think is right!” No threats that we have been use to for four years. Manchin, on his own, came on board and the historic bill was passed, and who was there to sign it, Schumer and Pelosi. Biden’s name won’t be on the stimulus checks either.


People were shocked that Kamala Harris was selected by Biden to be his running mate. She really went after him in the debate. Those who know Biden were not. He forgives and doesn’t hold grudges. Forgiveness is a key to leadership and I have found that it is not always easy to do, but for the benefit of all it must be done.


Joe Biden has had plenty of people mad at him, but there is no revenge on his part. One of the Republicans greatest complaints is that it is hard for the public to be angry at Biden. Unlike President Obama, who had many angry with him which I attribute to his race.


Biden’s approach is to make an enemy into a friend. Randy Pausch in his book, The Last Lecture, said that everyone has good in them. It may take some time to find it, but hang in there. I know that it must be there in our Former President, but I still haven’t found it. I will keep looking.


Machiavelli wrote in his book, The Prince, about the nature of leadership that people should fear you first and then you would get respect from them. Tip, Joe Biden, and I couldn’t disagree more. It is respect that can enrich your actions and relationships with others and help you to live the moral life, and to empower people to show their better angels. Nothing else can do that!


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