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Daniel Moynihan

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Daniel Moynihan

This article is about the United States Senator from New York. For the U.S. Representative from Illinois, see P. H. Moynihan.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
United States Senator
from New York
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by James L. Buckley
Succeeded by Hillary Rodham Clinton
12th United States Ambassador to the United Nations
In office
1975–1976
President Gerald R. Ford
Preceded by John A. Scali
Succeeded by William W. Scranton
10th United States Ambassador to India
In office
1973–1975
President Richard Nixon
Gerald R. Ford
Preceded by Kenneth Keating
Succeeded by William B. Saxbe
Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
In office
1993–1995
Preceded by Lloyd Bentsen
Succeeded by Robert Packwood
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
In office
1992–1993
Preceded by Quentin N. Burdick
Succeeded by Max Baucus
Personal details
Born (1927-03-16)March 16, 1927
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Died March 26, 2003(2003-03-26) (aged 76)
Washington, D.C.
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington, Virginia

Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Moynihan
Alma mater Tufts University (BA, MA, Ph.D)
London School of Economics
Profession Sociologist, diplomat
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Service/branch
Years of service 1944–1947

Daniel Patrick Moynihan (March 16, 1927 – March 26, 2003) was an American politician and sociologist. A member of the Democratic Party, he was first elected to the United States Senate for New York in 1976, and was re-elected three times (in 1982, 1988, and 1994). He declined to run for re-election in 2000. Prior to his years in the Senate, Moynihan was the United States' Ambassador to the United Nations and to India, and was a member of four successive presidential administrations, beginning with the administration of John F. Kennedy, and continuing through that of Gerald Ford.

Early life and education

Moynihan was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of Margaret Ann (née Phipps), a homemaker, and John Henry Moynihan, a reporter for a daily newspaper in Tulsa.[1][2] He moved to New York City at the age of six. Brought up in a poor neighborhood, he shined shoes, attended various public, private, and parochial schools, and ultimately graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in East Harlem. He was a parishioner of St. Raphael's Church, Hell's Kitchen / Clinton, and also cast his first vote in that church.[3] He and his brother, Michael Willard Moynihan, spent most of their childhood summers at his grandfather's farm in Bluffton, Indiana. After high school, Moynihan worked as a longshoreman before entering City College of New York (CCNY), which at that time provided free higher education.

After a year at CCNY, he joined the United States Navy, receiving V-12 officer training at Tufts University, where he graduated with a B.A. He was on active duty from 1944 to 1947, last serving as gunnery officer of the USS Quirinus. He received an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, also at Tufts. Moynihan then studied as a Fulbright fellow at the London School of Economics. Many years later, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Tufts.

Political career

Moynihan's political career started in the 1950s when he served as a member of New York governor Averell Harriman's staff, a stint which ended following Harriman's loss to Nelson Rockefeller in the 1958 general election. Two years later, Moynihan was a delegate to the 1960 Democratic National Convention as part of John F. Kennedy's delegate pool.

Assistant Secretary of Labor; controversy over the War on Poverty

Moynihan was an Assistant Secretary of Labor for policy in the Kennedy Administration and in the early part of the Lyndon Johnson Administration. In that capacity, he did not have operational responsibilities, allowing him to devote all of his time to trying to formulate national policy for what would become the War on Poverty. He had a small staff including Paul Barton, Ellen Broderick, and Ralph Nader (who at 29 years of age, hitchhiked to Washington, D.C. and got a job working for Moynihan in 1963).

They took inspiration from the book Slavery written by Stanley Elkins. Elkins essentially contended that slavery had made black Americans dependent on the dominant society, and that that dependence still existed a century later. This supported the concept that government must go beyond simply ensuring that members of minority groups have the same rights as the majority but must also "act affirmatively" in order to counter the problem.

Moynihan's research of Labor Department data demonstrated that even as fewer people were unemployed, more people were joining the welfare rolls. These recipients were families with children but only one parent (almost invariably the mother). The laws at that time permitted such families to receive welfare payments in certain parts of the United States.

Moynihan issued his research under the title The Negro Family: The Case For National Action, now commonly known as The Moynihan Report. Moynihan's report[4] fueled a debate over the proper course for government to take with regard to the economic underclass, especially blacks. Critics on the left attacked it as "blaming the victim",[5] a slogan coined by psychologist William Ryan.[6] Some suggested that Moynihan was propagating the views of racists[7] because much of the press coverage of the report focused on the discussion of children being born out of wedlock. Despite Moynihan's warnings, the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program included rules for payments only if the "Man [was] out of the house." Critics said that the nation was paying poor women to throw their husbands out of the house. Moynihan supported Richard Nixon's idea of a Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI). Daniel Patrick Moynihan had significant discussions concerning a Basic Income Guarantee with Russell B. Long and Louis O. Kelso.

After the 1994 Republican sweep of Congress, Moynihan agreed that correction was needed for a welfare system that possibly encouraged women to raise their children without fathers: "The Republicans are saying we have a helluva problem, and we do."[8]

Local New York City politics and academic career

By the 1964 election, Moynihan was politically supporting Robert F. Kennedy. For this reason he was not favored by then-President Johnson, and he left the Johnson Administration in 1965. He ran for office in the Democratic Party primary for the presidency of the New York City Council, a position now known as the New York City Public Advocate. However, he was defeated by Queens District Attorney Frank D. O'Connor. He then became Director of the Harvard–MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies. With turmoil and riots in the United States, Moynihan, "a national board member of ADA incensed at the radicalism of the current anti-war and Black Power movements" decided to "call for a formal alliance between liberals and conservatives,"[9] and wrote that the next administration would have to be able to unite the nation again.

Nixon Administration

Connecting with President-elect Richard Nixon in 1968, Moynihan joined Nixon's White House Staff as Counselor to the President for Urban Affairs. He was very influential at that time, and was one of the few people in Nixon's inner circle who had done academic research related to social policies.

In 1969, on the Nixon's initiative, NATO tried to establish a third civil column, establishing a hub of research and initiatives in the civil area, dealing as well with environmental topics.[10] Moynihan[10] named Acid Rain and the Greenhouse effect as suitable international challenges to be dealt by NATO. NATO was chosen, since the organization had suitable expertise in the field, as well as experience with international research coordination. The German government was skeptical and saw the initiative as an attempt by the US to regain international terrain after the lost Vietnam War. The topics gained momentum in civil conferences and institutions.[10]

In 1970, Moynihan wrote a memo to President Nixon saying, "The time may have come when the issue of race could benefit from a period of 'benign neglect'. The subject has been too much talked about. The forum has been too much taken over to hysterics, paranoids, and boodlers on all sides. We need a period in which Negro progress continues and racial rhetoric fades."[11] He argued that Nixon's conservative tactics (particularly the speeches of Vice-President Spiro Agnew) were playing into the hands of radicals. Moynihan regretted that critics misinterpreted his memo as advocating that the government should neglect minorities.[12]

US Ambassador

Nixon appointed Moynihan as United States Ambassador to India, where he served from 1973 to 1975. The relationship between the two countries was at a low point. Ambassador Moynihan was alarmed that two great democracies were cast as antagonists, and set out to fix things. He proposed that part of the burdensome debt be written off, part used to pay for US embassy expenses in India, and the remaining converted into Indian rupees to fund an Indo-US cultural and educational exchange program that lasted for a quarter century. On February 18, 1974, he presented to the Government of India a check for 16,640,000,000 rupees, which is equivalent to $2,046,700,000, which was the greatest amount paid by a single check in the history of banking.[13] The "Rupee Deal" is logged in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world's largest check, written by Ambassador Moynihan to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.[14]

President Gerald Ford appointed him as the United States Ambassador to United Nations (UN), a position he would hold from June 1975 until February 1976, including a rotation as President of the United Nations Security Council. As ambassador, Moynihan took a hardline anti-communist stance, in line with the agenda of the White House at the time. He was also a strong supporter of Israel,[15] condemning UN Resolution 3379, which declared Zionism to be a form of racism.[16] In response, Permanent PLO Observer to the UN, Zehdi Terzi, threatened his life.[17] But the American public responded enthusiastically to his moral outrage over the resolution; his condemnation of the "Zionism is Racism" Resolution brought him celebrity status and helped him win a US Senate seat a year later.[18] In his book, Moynihan's Moment, Gil Troy posits that Moynihan's 1975 UN speech opposing the "Zionism is Racism" Resolution was the key moment of his political career.[19]

Perhaps the most controversial action of Moynihan's career was his response, as Ambassador to the UN, to the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975. Gerald Ford considered Indonesia, then under a military dictatorship, a key ally against Communism, which was influential in East Timor. Moynihan ensured that the UN Security Council took no action against the larger nation's annexation of a small country. The Indonesian invasion caused the deaths of 100,000–200,000 Timorese through violence, illness, and hunger.[20][21] In his memoir, Moynihan wrote:

The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.[22]

Later, he said he had defended a "shameless" Cold War policy toward East Timor.[23]

Moynihan's thinking began to change during his tenure at the UN. In his 1993 book on nationalism, Pandaemonium, he wrote that as time progressed, he began to view the Soviet Union in less ideological terms. He regarded it less as an expansionist, imperialist Marxist state, and more as a weak realist state in decline. He believed it was most motivated by self-preservation. This view would influence his thinking in subsequent years, when he became an outspoken proponent of the then-unpopular view that the Soviet Union was a failed state headed for implosion.

Nevertheless, Moynihan's tenure at the UN marked the beginnings of a more confrontational American foreign policy that turned away from Henry Kissinger's détente-driven approach [24] In Pandaemonium, Moynihan described himself in his UN capacity as "something of an embarrassment to my own government, and fairly soon left before I was fired."

Career in the Senate

In 1976, Moynihan was elected to the U.S. Senate from the State of New York, defeating U.S. Representative Bella Abzug, Ramsey Clark, Paul O'Dwyer and Abraham Hirschfeld in the Democratic primary, and Conservative Party incumbent James L. Buckley in the general election. Shortly after election, Moynihan analyzed the State of New York's budget to determine whether it was paying out more in federal taxes than it received in spending. Finding that it was, he produced a yearly report known as the Fisc (from the French[25]). Moynihan's strong support for Israel while UN Ambassador may have increased support for him among the state's Jewish population.[26]

Moynihan's strong advocacy for New York's interests in the Senate, buttressed by the Fisc reports and recalling his strong advocacy for US positions in the UN, did at least on one occasion allow his advocacy to escalate into a physical attack. Senator Kit Bond, nearing retirement in 2010, recalled with some embarrassment in a conversation on civility in political discourse that Moynihan had once "slugged [Bond] on the Senate floor after Bond denounced an earmark Moynihan had slipped into a highway appropriations bill. Some months later Moynihan apologized, and the two occasionally would relax in Moynihan’s office after a long day to discuss their shared interest in urban renewal over a glass of port."[27]

Moynihan continued to be interested in foreign policy as a Senator, sitting on the Select Committee on Intelligence. His strongly anti-Soviet views became far more moderate, as he emerged as a critic of the Ronald Reagan Administration's hawkish Cold War policies, such as support for the Contras in Nicaragua. Moynihan argued there was no active Soviet-backed conspiracy in Latin America, or anywhere. He suggested the U.S.S.R. was suffering from massive internal problems, such as rising ethnic nationalism and a collapsing economy. In a December 21, 1986 editorial in the New York Times, Moynihan predicted the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union. He blasted the Reagan Administration's "consuming obsession with the expansion of Communism – which is not in fact going on." In a September 8, 1990 letter to Erwin Griswold, Moynihan wrote: "I have one purpose left in life; or at least in the Senate. It is to try to sort out what would be involved in reconstituting the American government in the aftermath of the cold war. Huge changes took place, some of which we hardly notice.”[28]

Moynihan introduced Section 1706 of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which cost certain professionals (like computer programmers, engineers, draftspersons, and designers) who depended on intermediary agencies (consulting firms) a self-employed tax status option, but other professionals (like accountants and lawyers) continued to enjoy Section 530 exemptions from payroll taxes. This change in the tax code was expected to offset the tax revenue losses of other legislation that Moynihan proposed to change the law of foreign taxes of Americans working abroad.[29] Joseph Stack, who flew his airplane into a building housing IRS offices on February 18 of 2010, posted a suicide note that, among many factors, mentioned the Section 1706 change to the Internal Revenue Code.[30][31]

In the mid-1990s, Moynihan was one of the Democrats to support the ban on the procedure known as partial-birth abortion. He said of the procedure: "I think this is just too close to infanticide. A child has been born and it has exited the uterus. What on Earth is this procedure?" Earlier in his career in the Senate, Moynihan had expressed his annoyance with the adamantly pro-choice interest groups petitioning him and others on the issue. He challenged them saying, "you women are ruining the Democratic Party with your insistence on abortion."[32][33]

Moynihan broke with orthodox liberal positions of his party on numerous occasions. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, in the 1990s, he strongly opposed President Bill Clinton's proposal to expand health care coverage to all Americans. Seeking to focus the debate over health insurance on the financing of health care, Moynihan garnered controversy by stating that "there is no health care crisis in this country."

He voted against the death penalty, the flag desecration amendment,[34] the balanced budget amendment, the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, the Communications Decency Act, and the North American Free Trade Agreement. He was critical of proposals to replace the progressive income tax with a flat tax. Moynihan surprised many in 1991 when he voted against authorization of the Gulf War. Despite his earlier writings on the negative effects of the welfare state, he surprised many people again by voting against welfare reform in 1996. He was sharply critical of the bill and certain Democrats who crossed party lines to support it.

Public speaker

Moynihan was a popular public speaker with a distinctly patrician style. He had some peculiar mannerisms of speech, in the form of slight stuttering and drawn-out vowels for emphasis. Linguist Geoff Nunberg compared his speaking style to that of William F. Buckley, Jr.[35]

Commission on Government Secrecy

In the post-Cold War era, the 103rd Congress enacted legislation directing an inquiry into the uses of government secrecy. Moynihan chaired the Commission, which studied and made recommendations on the "culture of secrecy" that pervaded the United States government and its intelligence community for 80 years, beginning with the Espionage Act of 1917, and made recommendations on the statutory regulation of classified information.

The Commission's findings and recommendations were presented to the President in 1997. As part of the effort, Moynihan secured release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation of its classified Venona file. This file documents the FBI's joint counterintelligence investigation, with the United States Signals Intelligence Service, into Soviet espionage within the United States. Much of the information had been collected and classified as secret information for over 50 years.

After release of the information, Moynihan authored Secrecy: The American Experience[36] where he discussed the impact government secrecy has had on the domestic politics of America for the past half century, and how myths and suspicion created an unnecessary partisan chasm.

Career as scholar

In addition to his career as a politician and a diplomat, Moynihan worked as a sociologist. He was Director of the Joint Center for Urban Studies at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as a Fellow on the faculty in the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University from 1964 to 1967. In magazines such as Commentary and The Public Interest, he published articles on urban ethnic politics and on the problems of the poor in cities of the Northeast.

Moynihan coined the term "professionalization of reform," by which the government bureaucracy thinks up problems for government to solve rather than simply responding to problems identified elsewhere.[37]

Soon after his 1971 return to Harvard, having served two years in the Nixon White House as Counselor to the President, Moynihan became a professor in the Department of Government. In 1983 he was awarded the Hubert H. Humphrey Award given by the American Political Science Association "in recognition of notable public service by a political scientist." He wrote 19 books, leading his personal friend, columnist and former professor George F. Will, to remark that Dr. Moynihan "wrote more books than most senators have read." He also joined the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs as a public administration faculty after retiring from the Senate.

Moynihan's scholarly accomplishments led Michael Barone, writing in the Almanac of American Politics to describe the senator as "the nation's best thinker among politicians since Lincoln and its best politician among thinkers since Jefferson."[38] Moynihan's 1993 article, "Defining Deviancy Down",[39] was notably controversial.[40][41]

Selected books

Awards and honors

  • The 5th Annual Heinz Award in Public Policy[42]
  • 1989 Honor Award from the National Building Museum[43]
  • In 1989, Moynihan received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[44]
  • On August 9, 2000, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton.[45]
  • In 1994 the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation awarded Moynihan its Lone Sailor Award for his naval service and subsequent government service.

Death and posthumous honors

In 2003, Moynihan died at the age of 76 after complications (infection) suffered from an emergency appendectomy about a month earlier. He was survived by his wife of 39 years, Elizabeth Brennan Moynihan, three grown children: Timothy Patrick Moynihan, Maura Russell Moynihan, and John McCloskey Moynihan; and two grandchildren, Michael Patrick and Zora Olea.[46][47] [48] [49] [50] [51] [52] [53]

Moynihan was honored posthumously as well:

Quotes

  • "I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually. I guess that we thought we had a little more time."
    – Reacting to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, November 1963
  • "No one is innocent after the experience of governing. But not everyone is guilty."
    The Politics of a Guaranteed Income, 1973
  • "Secrecy is for losers. For people who do not know how important the information really is." – Secrecy: The American Experience, 1998
  • "The issue of race could benefit from a period of benign neglect."
    – Memo to President Richard Nixon
  • "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."
    – quoted in Robert Sobel's review of Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies, edited by Mark C. Carnes
  • (In response to the question: "Why should I work if I am going to just end up emptying slop jars?") "That's a complaint you hear mostly from people who don't empty slop jars. This country has a lot of people who do exactly that for a living. And they do it well. It's not pleasant work, but it's a living. And it has to be done. Somebody has to go around and empty all those bed pans. And it's perfectly honorable work. There's nothing the matter with doing it. Indeed, there is a lot that is right about doing it, as any hospital patient will tell you."[54]
  • "Food growing is the first thing you do when you come down out of the trees. The question is, how come the United States can grow food and you can't?"
    – speaking to Third World countries about global famine[55]
  • "The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself."
  • "Truman left the Presidency thinking that Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Secrecy: The American Experience,” October 21, 1998, speaking at the City University of New York Graduate School, C-SPAN broadcast, 44:34 to 45:40 minute mark, first aired October 31, 1998

See also

Biography portal

References

Further reading

  • Steven R. Weisman, ed. Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary (PublicAffairs; 2010) 705 pages; primary sources
  • Godfrey Hodgson, The Gentleman From New York: Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- A Biography (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2000) 480 pages
  • About the Daniel P. Moynihan Papers (Manuscript Reading Room, Library of Congress)
  • Robert A. Katzmann, ed. Daniel Patrick Moynihan: The Intellectual in Public Life (Johns Hopkins; 2004)

External links

  • Daniel Patrick Moynihan Archives at UNZ.org
  • A film clip ]
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Kenneth Keating
United States Ambassador to India
1973–1975
Succeeded by
William B. Saxbe
Preceded by
John A. Scali
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
1975–1976
Succeeded by
William W. Scranton
Preceded by
James L. Buckley
United States Senator (Class 1) from New York
1977–2001
Served alongside: Jacob K. Javits, Alfonse D'Amato, Charles Schumer
Succeeded by
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Political offices
Preceded by
Quentin N. Burdick
North Dakota
Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
1992–1993
Succeeded by
Max S. Baucus
Montana
Preceded by
Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr.
Texas
Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
1993–1995
Succeeded by
Robert W. Packwood
Oregon

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