(Providence, Rhode Island) – Top o' the mornin' to all of my readers. As many of you know, I am mostly Irish. My full name is Mark Corrigan Curtis, and yes I am told I am distant cousin of famed pilot Douglas "Wrong-way" Corrigan. I even have a son, Patrick Corrigan. So this is a fun day for my family. No serious political stuff today, just a look at some famous Irish politicians.
"Everybody's Wearing Green!" – Of the 43 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's the only Irish Catholic President, too). Even President Obama has Irish some lineage on his mother's side. I think just for one day he should change the spelling to Barack O'Bama!
"Friends After 6 p.m." – Two of my favorite Irish American politicians were House Speaker Tip O'Neill and President Ronald Reagan. The two 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, maybe. Actually the two wrote fondly of each other in their memoirs, reflecting on nights at the White House playing cards, sipping whiskey and smoking cigars, all the while being "friends after 6 p.m." The two had a record of compromise on key issues and actually got a lot done.
"The Dynasties" – Some of America's biggest political dynasties are Irish – in whole; or in part. A red-headed 32 year-old named Joseph Kennedy III was just elected to Congress, extending that family's place in American politics into a fourth consecutive generation. Three generations of the Bush family have held elective office in the U.S. The Bush's 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 bother William was also U.S. Secretary of Commerce and White House Chief of Staff, and is thinking about running for Governor of Illinois next year.
"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 of which were as President of the State Senate. He then went on to be President of the University of Massachusetts for 7 years. Billy's career ended when he admitted 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 will be tried on 19 counts of murder later this year.
"Luck o' the Irish!" – Even today, the American political landscape is dotted with those of Irish ancestry. Vice President Joe Biden is mostly of Irish heritage. House Speaker John Boehner has Irish ancestry; and U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy is Irish. Congressman Paul Ryan, who was the Republican Vice Presidential nominee last year – is very Irish - and remains Chairman of the House Budget Committee.
"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 3/4ths 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 (i.e. the beverage as an antidote).