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Steven R. Weisman on Daniel Patrick Moynihan

4 years ago
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On today's podcast, we welcome Steven R. Weisman, editor of "Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary." The book draws on letters, journals, and memos written by the iconoclastic intellectual, presidential adviser, and senator from New York.

Weisman and I discuss whether Moynihan actually had a coherent intellectual philosophy ("he was a contrarian," Weisman concedes), as well as the dying art of letter writing.

We also discuss a variety of topics, including why so few intellectuals become politicians today, Moynihan's prolific writing process, and his accomplishments as a senator (including transportation and welfare issues).

Perhaps more importantly, Weisman and I look at who Daniel Patrick Moynihan was. He "was quirky as an intellectual and he was quirky as a politician. . . . He remained a senator, but he also remained a teacher as a senator," Weisman says.

Weisman notes that Moynihan "was very self-conscious about how he carried himself," and, starting at a young age, worked to craft his swagger and his image.

"As I put it in my introduction, he wanted to become Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- and that's who he became," Weisman adds.

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