Home Up Contents Search

Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Home Up Robert Moses Daniel Patrick Moynihan Stanley M. Elkins Nathan Glazer Color Purple

Mary Lee Brady, Ph.D.










Daniel Patrick Moynihan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States Senator
from New York

In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 2001

Preceded by

James L. Buckley

Succeeded by

Hillary Rodham Clinton

United States Ambassador to the United Nations

In office
1975 – 1976


Gerald R. Ford

Preceded by

John A. Scali

Succeeded by

William W. Scranton


March 16, 1927(1927-03-16)
Tulsa, Oklahoma


March 26, 2003 (aged 76)
New York City



Political party



Liza Moynihan

Alma mater

Tufts University


Roman Catholic

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Daniel Patrick “Pat” Moynihan (March 16, 1927 – March 26, 2003) was an American politician and sociologist. He was first elected to the United States Senate for New York in 1976, and was re-elected with the Democratic Party 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 a member of four successive presidential administrations, beginning with the administration of John F. Kennedy, and continuing through Gerald Ford.

Moynihan was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was brought by his family to New York City at the age of six. There he was brought up in a poor neighborhood, shined shoes for money, and attended various public, private, and parochial schools before graduating from Harlem High School. He and his brother spent most of their childhood summers at his grandfather's farm in Bluffton, Indiana. He studied for one year at the City College of New York, which at that time provided free higher education, but then joined the U.S. Navy, receiving V-12 officer training at Tufts University, were he graduated with a BA. He served on active duty from 1944 to 1947, last serving as Gunnery officer of the USS Quirinus. He received a M.A., and Ph.D in sociology from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy also at Tufts. Afterwards, he studied as a Fulbright fellow at the London School of Economics. He was later given an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Tufts and has the distinction of being the only person to hold five degrees from Tufts.

Moynihan was a member of Averell Harriman's New York gubernatorial campaign in 1954 and thereafter served 4 years on the Governor's staff, in positions including acting secretary to the Governor. He was a Kennedy delegate at the 1960 Democratic National Convention.

Moynihan was an Assistant Secretary of Labor for policy in the Kennedy Administration and in the early part of the 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 American blacks dependent on the dominant society, and that that dependence still existed a century later, supporting a view that the government must go beyond simply ensuring that members of minority races have the same rights as everyone else, and offering minority members benefits that others did not get on the grounds that those benefits were necessary to counteract that lingering effects of past actions.

Moynihan found data at the Labor Department that showed 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's report was seen by people on the left as "Blaming the Victim",[1] a slogan coined by William Ryan [2]. He was also seen as propagating the views of racists,[3] because much of the press coverage of his reports focused on the discussion of children being born out of wedlock. Despite Moynihan's warnings, the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program had the "Man out of the house rule." 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 something had to be done about the welfare system possibly encouraging women to raise their children without fathers: "The Republicans are saying we have a helluva problem, and we do."[4]

By 1964, 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 but did not win the presidency of the New York City Council. He then, became Director of the Joint Center for Urban Studies at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With turmoil and riots in the United States he wrote that the next administration would have to be able to unite the nation again.

Connecting with President-elect Richard Nixon in 1968, he joined Nixon's White House Staff as an urban affairs adviser. He was very influential at that time, as one of the few people in Nixon's inner circle who had done academic research related to social policies.

He once wrote in a memo to President Nixon that "the issue of race could benefit from a period of benign neglect". He argued that Nixon's conservative tactics were playing into the hands of the radicals, but he regretted that he was misinterpreted as advocating that the government should neglect minorities.

He later served as the Ambassador to India from 1973 to 1975, and as the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, serving a rotation as President of the United Nations Security Council in 1976.

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. The Ford Administration considered Indonesia, then under a military dictatorship, a key ally against Communism. Moynihan ensured that the UN Security Council took no action against this annexation of a small country by a larger one, which would involve massacres that killed over 200,000 Timorese. As he put it in his memoirs:

"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." (A Dangerous Place, Little Brown, 1980, p. 247) Later, he admitted that he had defended a "shameless" Cold War policy toward East Timor. [citation needed]

The above passage ("no inconsiderable success") is cited by Noam Chomsky in A New Generation Draws the Line; Times columnist and blogger Oliver Kamm has argued at length [1] that Chomsky is presenting the quotation out of context.

Moynihan was also known for his consistently strong support of Israel during his tenure as U.N. Ambassador.[5]

In 1976, Moynihan was elected to the U.S. Senate from the State of New York, defeating U.S. Representative Bella Abzug in the Democratic Primary, and Conservative Party incumbent James L. Buckley in the general election. Moynihan's strong support for Israel while U.N. Ambassador, may have increased support among the state's Jewish population.[6]

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

In the mid-1990s, Moynihan was one of the few Democrats to support the controversial 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 complained to them saying, "you women are ruining the Democratic Party with your insistence on abortion."[7]

Daniel Patrick Moynihan had a theory about government called the "professionalization of reform" by which the government bureaucracy thinks up problems for government to solve rather than simply responding to the problems identified by others.

Moynihan was a popular public speaker with a distinctly patrician style. He had some peculiar mannerisms of speech, somewhat akin to William F. Buckley, Jr. in the form of slight stuttering and drawn-out vowels for emphasis. They both paraphrased the final line of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" in their book titles.

In the Post–Cold War Era, the 103rd Congress enacted legislation directing an inquiry into the uses of government secrecy. Moynihan chaired the Commission. The Committee 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 Committee'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 fifty years.

After release of the information, Moynihan authored Secrecy: The American Experience 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.

In addition to his career as a politician and 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 at the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University from 1964 to 1967. During this time he continued to write about the problems of the poor in cities of the Northeast. He authored 19 books, leading some to joke that Moynihan had written more books than most of his colleagues had read.[citation needed]

 Selected books

Beyond the Melting Pot, an influential study of American ethnicity, which he co-authored with Nathan Glazer (1963)

  • The Negro Family: The Case for National Action otherwise known as the Moynihan Report (1965)

  • Maximum Feasible Misunderstanding: Community Action in the War on Poverty (1969) ISBN 0029220009

  • Violent Crimes (1970) ISBN 0807660531

  • Coping: Essays on the Practice of Government (1973) ISBN 0394483243

  • The Politics of a Guaranteed Income (1973)

  • The Politics of a Guaranteed Income: The Nixon Administration and the Family Assistance Plan (1973) ISBN 0394463544.

  • Business and Society in Change (1975) ISBN 0884390022

  • A Dangerous Place (1978) ISBN 0316586994

  • Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, 1980 (1980) ISBN 1565545168

  • Family and Nation: The Godkin Lectures (1986) ISBN 0156301407

  • Came the Revolution (1988)

  • On the Law of Nations (1990) ISBN 0674635760

  • Pandaemonium: Ethnicity in International Politics (1994) ISBN 0198279469

  • Miles to Go: A Personal History of Social Policy (1996) ISBN 0674574419

  • Secrecy: The American Experience (1998) ISBN 0300080794

  • Future of the Family (2003) ISBN 0871546280


"To be Irish is to know that in the end the world will break your heart." — Speaking after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, November 1963

"There is one unmistakable lesson in American history: A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos... And it is richly deserved." — "Family and Nation", 1965

"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

Home ] Up ]

Email:                          Editors, More Mary Matters                                bradyenterpriseassociation@gmail.com
with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2010 Brady Enterprise Association, Inc.
Last modified: 12/29/16