A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 18, 2011
“The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer”

Henry Kissinger was the U.S. National Security Advisor (January 20, 1969 – November 3, 1975) and Secretary of State (September 22, 1973 – January 20, 1977). The October 28, 1973 New York (NY) Times quoted Kissinger on Watergate:

“The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

The form is imitative of the World War II Seabees motto: “With willing hearts and skillful hands, the difficult we do at once; the impossible takes a bit longer.”

Kissinger’s quotation—said in private, as a joke—has been much cited as a symbol of Watergate corruption and other government unlawfulness.


Wikiquote: Henry Kissinger
Henry Alfred Kissinger (born Heinz Alfred Kissinger on May 27, 1923) is a German-born American diplomat, Of Jewish heritage and religion. Nobel laureate and statesman. He served as National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State in the Nixon and Ford administrations.

Sourced
The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.
- Joking comment, as quoted in The Washington Post (23 December 1973)

Bartleby.com
QUOTATION: With willing hearts and skillful hands, the difficult we do at once; the impossible takes a bit longer.
ATTRIBUTION: Author unknown. Inscription on the memorial to the Seabees (U.S. Naval Construction Batallions), between Memorial Bridge and Arlington Cemetery.

“The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.”—Motto of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, according to The Home Book of American Quotations, ed. Bruce Bohle, p. 35 (1967), which says that other branches of the service also used this slogan. Newsweek, March 8, 1943, p. 34, attributes this “cocky slogan” to the Army Air Forces.

A higher comparative, “The impossible we do at once; the miraculous takes a little longer,” was said to be the motto of the Army Service Forces.—The New York Times, November 4, 1945, pp. 2E, 6E. This echoes a remark attributed to Charles-Alexandre de Calonne, Louis XVI’s minister of finance. Marie Antoinette asked him something in a tone that brooked no refusal, adding that perhaps it would be difficult. He replied, “If it is only difficult, it is done; if it is impossible, we shall see.”—J. F. Michaud, Biographie Universelle, vol. 6, p. 427.

28 October 1973, New York (NY) Times, “The sayings of Secretary Henry (Kissinger)” compiled by DuPre Jones, Magazine, pg. 95:
WATERGATE
The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.

30 December 1973, New York (NY) Times, “The Bismarck Connection: Why Kissinger must choose between Nixon and the country” by Thomas L. Hughes, Magazine, pg. 9, col. 3:
Bismarck once said maliciously to the Crown Prince, who was a liberal: “I have sworn to observe the Constitution conscientiously, but what if my conscience tells me not to observe it.” Kissinger has topped this with a contemporary version which goes: “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

The New American
Kissinger: “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”
Written by William F. Jasper
Monday, 08 November 2010 16:30
A just-released transcript of a meeting between Henry Kissinger and a Turkish Foreign Minister 35 years ago provides a bombshell quote that will go a long way toward solidifying the former Secretary of State’s reputation as one of the most Machiavellian insiders of American politics and diplomacy in the 20th century.

During a secret meeting on March 10, 1975 in the Turkish Capital of Ankara with Mehli Esenbel, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Kissinger, then Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, told Esenbel:

Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” [laughter] But since the Freedom of Information Act, I’m afraid to say things like that.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 18, 2011 • Permalink