Bill Moyers Says Tenastelign, Adios, Zai Jian and Ciao

Bill Moyers told public television stations last week that his interview program “Moyers & Company” would end with the Jan. 3 show, keeping to the two-year timetable he and the program’s funders committed to when he came out of a 20-month retirement in January 2012. The news was first reported by the trade publication Current.

Bill Moyers began to work at the Peace Corps in 1961 as the Associate Director for Public Affairs, leaving the staff of Vice President Johnson to work for the agency. Moyers, who was born in Hugo, Oklahoma, was raised in Marshall, Texas, where he quickly established himself as one of the brightest students that the state of Texas had ever produced.

Moyers graduated from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at Fort Worth, receiving his degree in Divinity Studies and was preparing to teach at Baylor when Senator Johnson called from Washington and his career plans changed.

LBJ called Moyers the smartest assistant he ever had and did not want to lose him to Shriver. The story goes that JFK didn’t want to lose him either from the White House because Moyers was the only one in the building who would talk to both the Boston elite and the Texans around Johnson.130px-billmoyers_lbj_1963b

Shriver, however, got Moyers into Peace Corps HQs where Moyers would soon go onto become, at twenty-eight, the youngest presidential appointee in history, and only the second deputy director of the agency.

At the Senate confirmation hearings in February of 1963, Moyers, however, was challenged by Republican Senator Frank Lausche of Ohio. Lausche dyspeptically cited Moyers’ youth and lack of administrative experience, declaring that Moyers was “still wet behind the ears.”

Senator Russell Long, Democrat from Louisiana, got angry, saying that Lausche had just insulted the sovereign state of Louisiana, its people and himself, and that was because, Long explained, he, Long had first been elected to the Senate when he was only twenty-nine.

A third senator then asked, “Exactly how old are you, Mr. Moyers?”

Moyers replied, “Twenty-eight,” and then, in a fully audible aside, added, “and a half.”

Laughter rippled through the Senate chamber.

Moyers was installed in the executive suite of the Peace Corps within a week…..and from there it was on to many more great jobs.

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3 Comments

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  • Thanks Bill, you brought spirit and ideas to the new agency. I was a Volunteer in Colombia when you were at headquarters…we owe you our appreciation and thanks! You were Peace Corps!
    Bob

  • Bill Moyers interviewed the Reverend Wright when the latter was in a storm of controversy during the first Obama campaign. It was wonderful to see these two Baptist trained ministers discuss politics in a religious context, sharing stories about professors they both knew and examining famous authors and philosophers. Moyers and Wright had first met when LBJ had his gall bladder operation and Wright was a Navy corpsman assisting and Moyers was present in the operating room at LbJ’s request. History!

    Moyers worked to get and then keep Peace Corps relatively independent pf the state department establishment. Maybe he would “volunteer” to consult the current Peace Corps staff!

  • Bill, I was in the Ghana 1 Group in 1961. And I had been a grad student of Dr San McAlister at North Texas who spoke fondly of you as his student there. You are an honorable and intelligent actor in USA life. Don’t go away. I feel sure your have lots more to contribute.

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