Washington Remembered: Chris Matthews Looks Back at a Time When Politics Worked

Matthews recalls his time as a top aide to Tip O'Neill during Reagan years in new book.
5:44 | 10/16/13

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Transcript for Washington Remembered: Chris Matthews Looks Back at a Time When Politics Worked
Hello welcome to politics confidential on Jonathan Karl and very excited right now to be joined by Chris Matthews. The author of a true rhetoric new book tip in the gipper when politics work. Chris you were practically born to write this book you were there working for speaker of the house Tip O'Neill. During the Reagan era. Could -- at a time inference you're right it's it's central to what we're in right now. The ability or inability of the two parties in a divided government to work together. And that's what we're going to be -- in the rest of our allies divided government -- -- learn how to do it in the mirror image of today he had a liberal speaker of the house yes that's right and you had Republicans in charge of the senate and a very conservative president. That's exactly the opposite of what it was yeah. And yet you had nominal democratic control the house but really it was pretty close. And Reagan had done very well when he first human with a -- southern conservatives and some others Ronald Reagan do solemnly swear one difference was that Reagan had once it's an overwhelming election. Beating an incumbent president Jimmy Carter. That I think there was a real sense that but certainly -- felt -- that he deserved his honeymoon. He deserved to have -- votes so help me god I don't think there's ever been a honeymoon for a while I think that day was elected it's been vicious. The opposition emphasis you look at their right from the start tonight we're just before the interview looking that your your notes that's about -- -- this is an incredibly valuable doctor you. To -- daily journal of what was going and it it would include. What we should be doing that week with the strategy should be device that should be the strategy is all clean and fun it was. Exciting and two big Irish guys fight left and right you always knew where they stood every cab driver DC new Reagan stood for those things and they were tipster is -- Africa science and letters. On and the governor's. -- some of the old days there's a pattern. You argued in politics you would have an agreement we have a signing ceremony where they -- smiling at each -- and everybody be happy. Now you just sort of accumulate. -- to fight about and he never really get behind us and that's the is that based politics very depressing. President Obama has not had a single signing ceremony. With Republicans has. He doesn't in his own office or something he doesn't try to make it into a sign of agreement and on the other side the Republicans don't want to be seen with -- that's. Different to have never had a problem putting his arm around regular hanging out together saint -- -- party. It's. -- -- -- Reagan actually -- a birthday party for -- -- standard drink -- all afternoon the physical can just palpable connection with each other tangible being together. Was the norm I have a high privilege. That this thing on -- Oprah's stunning view the president of the United States it. They're both Americans are both trying to -- the country. And it in the running it together today you hear a congressman saying I can't tell you how bad I -- had to stand ten feet from. I felt awful the president does not have the warmest of relations with with congress Democrat or Republican. We -- Nancy Pelosi who -- At least as tough as speaker. As a leader as tip -- I heard a few times in the phone scary some people I don't care what you call that told a damn good radio person. I want your vote. I'm there's some of that. But I think policy really has a nice mix of of love and fear from the members that -- -- works for her but -- and Reagan would fight. I mean that there were some vicious alone this was not a single -- a book of at a point -- each other. With no audience what I found legitimate about it was they really did disagree I don't like the -- the president -- -- in this war. I've been kinda get from the familiar with Pacman for example. I asked about it somebody told me that was around thing that gobbled up money. I thought that would Tip O'Neill. And then -- -- -- -- call them the worst president -- yet but he also said they also said we were great friends there's no question because of mass -- when he stumbled through the -- said things like yet. That country loves this guy. It was altogether -- the president. Congratulations you're so this. I mean all those Irish parties and all that birthday parties had one good goal Reagan could caught tip. And talk and it would be notes taken and they could trust each other keep -- so why what's happened. Is he is is the individuals is it is it is it Barack Obama on these. You know hard line Republicans averaged never gonna CI died at Sony pieces -- this does the ethnic -- their people afraid of illegal immigration. And anger about the fact they can't get a job a -- can't get a job and they see the spending going on under W. The spending kept going and -- that losing control -- -- lose control. And does your losing to -- ethnically losing itself financially. These things -- -- you -- get a guy like Ted Cruz who walks in office just being totally angry like York. And industry has done McCain said this week he did -- came today. You know -- -- announced that. All right Chris Matthews fantastically -- again tip and the gipper highly recommended perfectly times. Thank you very much for joining us thank you and that's it for politics confidential for ABC news Yahoo! News I'm Jonathan Karl you can follow me all week long on Twitter at John -- on FaceBook. Thanks for watching. -- --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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