Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

JOSEPH A. CALIFANO JR.

Our interview with Joseph Califano, broadcast on March
29, 2004, ranged widely over a long and illustrious career
and the important work he’s now doing to prevent
addiction and substance abuse.

WILLIAM O’SHAUGHNESSY (W.O.): We’re going to switch now to Morningside Heights, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. The man who runs that has done a lot of things in his time on this planet. He ran the White House for President Lyndon Johnson. I didn’t know this, but they tried to get him to run for the U.S. Senate, after Senator Javits, of sainted memory. Jacob K. Javits left, and this man could have spared us Al D’Amato had he been persuaded to do that. They also wanted to run him for governor of New York.

He came out of Brooklyn and went right to the highest councils of this nation. His name is Joseph A. Califano. I should tell you he was also Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW).

He’s written a new book called Inside: A Public and Private Life. You finally did it!

JOSEPH CALIFANO (J.C.): (laughs) Well, I spent four and a half years, and I really wrote this book for my kids. I wanted them to know what an incredible country this is. I knew nobody when I went to Washington—I was just a young lawyer in the Pentagon. I also wanted them to understand how important it is to have a moral compass, especially when you’re exercising public power.

My moral compass was my Catholic faith. It’s very important for people with enormous public power to have moral standards.

W.O.: Joe Califano, you run your own law firm, you were with some of the legendary Washington firms after you left the White House and Lyndon Johnson: Arnold and Porter and Edward Bennett Williams. You write a lot about it, you were like brothers.

J.C.: Well, we were. Ed and I became partners in 1971 and were partners for most of the ’70s, until I went to become Secretary of

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