Bill Moyers was to be the keynote speaker during the one hundredth anniversary of the retirement community where I live. But that was last year. Unfortunately, a medical issue kept him from being here. However among other things, Moyers keeps commitments, and as soon as his medical condition allowed it, he agreed to highlight the dawning of our second century, and spent a weekend with us last month.
For many of us in an age when there are few authentic heroes, Bill Moyers has identified and personalized what is hopeful about our world. We have followed his contributions from the time he was a young Baptist minister who became a trusted adviser to President Lyndon Johnson and served as Johnson’s press secretary. Following his work with President Johnson, Moyers and his wife, Judith, developed an extensive series of TV interviews featuring the brightest progressive voices in the world. In these programs he talked with the activists and thinkers whose wisdom forms the backbone of America’s best past and its most hopeful future. Last year he closed out what he said was his final series of programs. Bill is 81 and deceivingly looks about 50.
His major address to us on Sunday afternoon was partly about what has gone on in his career and partly about what is currently going on in the United States— and that means the election. Unless one listened very carefully, he took no final position on the Bernie/Hillary controversy, but clearly held Donald Trump to be the least qualified person that a major party in this country has ever put forward as its candidate. But the Republicans sired him with help from the Tea Party, and now they are stuck with the offspring.
On Saturday evening at dinner and in a conversation the next day, I told Bill something he already knew. His voice and perspective remain critical at this time in our nation, and these days we are missing it. I asked whether there might be a book in the making. His response, ”I’m just a journalist— an interviewer.” But in a subsequent email he suggested that a book might be possible.
Just a journalist? Here is a man who not only has had his finger on the American pulse for over half a century, but also is the most profound articulator about what is the hope for America’s future. He has dipped into the living realities of what is going on, and in his interviews has detailed what we progressives believe and hope to see happen in our nation.