Moynihan's Moment

Grist/Aspire to be - how Moynihan portratyed - irascible, and ...


Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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Daniel Patrick Moynihan

  • "I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually. I guess that we thought we had a little more time."
    – Reacting to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, November 1963
  • "No one is innocent after the experience of governing. But not everyone is guilty."
    – The Politics of a Guaranteed Income, 1973
  • "Secrecy is for losers. For people who do not know how important the information really is."
    – Secrecy: The American Experience, 1998
  • "The issue of race could benefit from a period of benign neglect."
    – Memo to President Richard Nixon
  • "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." – quoted in Robert Sobel's review of Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies, edited by Mark C. Carnes
  • (In response to the question: "Why should I work if I am going to just end up emptying slop jars?") "That's a complaint you hear mostly from people who don't empty slop jars. This country has a lot of people who do exactly that for a living. And they do it well. It's not pleasant work, but it's a living. And it has to be done. Somebody has to go around and empty all those bed pans. And it's perfectly honorable work. There's nothing the matter with doing it. Indeed, there is a lot that is right about doing it, as any hospital patient will tell you."[51]
  • "Food growing is the first thing you do when you come down out of the trees. The question is, how come the United States can grow food and you can't?"
    – speaking to Third World countries about global famine[52]
  • "The Department of State desired that the U. N. prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success."[53]
  • "The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself."
  • “Truman left the Presidency thinking that Whittaker Chambers, Elizabeth Bentley were nuts, crackpots, scoundrels, and I think you could say that a fissure began in American political life that’s never really closed. It reverberates, and I can say more about it. But in the main, American liberalism - Arthur Schlesinger, one of the conspicuous examples - got it wrong. We were on the side of the people who denied this, and a president who could have changed his rhetoric, explained it, told the American people, didn’t know the facts, they were secret, and they were kept from him.”
    Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Secrecy: The American Experience,” October 21, 1998, speaking at the City University of New York Graduate School, C-SPAN broadcast, 44:34 to 45:40 minute mark, first aired October 31, 1998