“The Sunday Political Brunch”—March 19, 2017
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Mark Curtis, GoLocalPDX Contributor
Top o’ the mornin', readers. As many of you know, I am mostly Irish. My full name is Mark Corrigan Curtis; and, yes, I am a distant cousin of famed pilot Douglas “Wrong-way” Corrigan. My earliest relatives in the U.S. – Michael Corrigan and family - came during the Irish Potato famine in 1852. My son is Patrick Corrigan Curtis. In an offering of peace, we’ll have no serious political stuff today - just a look at some famous Irish politicians and issues. Some of today’s material is imported and updated from some of my previous St. Patrick’s Day issues. Let’s “Brunch” on some of that “corned beef” this year:
“Taste O’ the Green!” – Of the 44 U.S. Presidents, 22 claim some significant percentage of Irish ancestry. Most are a mix of nationalities, but President John F. Kennedy is the only one listed as 100% Irish. (He was the only Irish Catholic President, too). Even former President Obama has some Irish lineage on his mother’s side. I think just for one day he should change the spelling of his name to "Barack O’Bama." As for President Trump - while many people believe he looks to be of Irish heritage (maybe it’s the hair color) - he is of German and Scottish descent.
“Friends after 6 p.m.” – Two of my favorite Irish-American politicians were House Speaker Tip O’Neill and President Ronald Reagan. They were often bitter political foes. O’Neill once said of Reagan that he was "the most ignorant man who had ever occupied the White House.” Reagan once compared O’Neill to the video game character Pac-Man, saying the House Speaker was "a round thing that gobbles up money." Ouch! In truth, the two wrote fondly of each other in their memoires, reflecting on nights at the White House, playing cards, sipping whiskey, and smoking cigars - all the while being “friends after 6 p.m.,” as Mr. Reagan put it. The two had a record of compromise on key issues and got a lot done together.
“The Dynasties” – Some of America’s biggest political dynasties are Irish – in whole, or in part. A redheaded 32-year-old named Joseph Kennedy III was elected to Congress in 2012, extending that family’s place in American politics into a fourth consecutive generation. Four generations of the Bush family have also held elective office in the U.S. The Bushes are part Irish. Then there is the Daley family of Chicago. Richard J. Daley and his son Richard M. served a combined total of 43 years in the Mayor’s office. Richard M. Daley’s brother William was also U.S. Secretary of Commerce and White House Chief of Staff, and is still often mentioned for higher office.
“Same Family?” – As we all know, some families produce the famous and the infamous, all in the same generation. For 35 years, Billy Bulger served in the Massachusetts Legislature, the last 18 as President of the State Senate. He then went on to be President of the University of Massachusetts for seven years. Billy’s career ended when he admitted to having spoken to his infamous younger brother, James “Whitey” Bulger, a legendary Boston mobster. “Whitey,” who was "America’s Most Wanted" fugitive, was eventually captured and was convicted on murder charges. He’s serving life in prison.
“Luck o’ the Irish!” – Even today, the American political landscape is dotted with those of Irish ancestry. Former Vice President Joe Biden is mostly of Irish heritage. Former House Speaker John Boehner is Irish; and U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy is Irish, too. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was the Republican Vice Presidential nominee in 2012, is Irish. And current U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is – well, with a name like McCarthy, what else could he be?
“Luck O’ the Irish II” – In 2014, I had the good fortune to meet Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny when he came to Rhode Island to meet with then Governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI). This week, Prime Minster Kenny met with President Trump about the plight of Irish immigrants living illegally in the U.S., whom Kenny would like to see reach legal status. Kenny said: “We would like this to be sorted. It would remove a burden of so many people that they can stand out in the light and say, 'Now I am free to contribute to America as I know I can.' And that’s what people want.” To be continued!
“Irish Coffee” – Of course, if politics is not your “cup of tea,” then switch to coffee – Irish coffee. It’s been a favorite beverage of many an Irish politician, especially those who hang out at the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco, where the drink was pioneered. The restaurant recently released the secret recipe: Fill a cup 3/4 full with coffee; stir in two sugar cubes; add 1 and ½ ounces of Irish Whiskey; then spoon about ¼ cup of slightly whipped cream gently on the top so it floats (photo above). This is a great drink if you love Irish politicians, or if you absolutely hate politics with a passion. (In the latter case, the beverage is used as an antidote.)
I hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day weekend! As always, if you want to share your thoughts, click the comment button at http://www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.