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Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Retrospective
With News and Reviews From the Archives of The New York Times

In This Feature
  • A Liberal Iconoclast: 'Moynihan of the Moynihan Report'
  • An Appointee of Nixon and Ford: 'Brawler at the U.N.'
  • First Senate Term, 1976: 'The Professor'
  • Second Senate Term, 1982: 'Came the Revolution'
  • Third Senate Term, 1988: 'Liberal? Conservative? Or Just Pat?'
  • Fourth Senate Term, 1994: 'The Grumpy Mayor of America'
  • Reviews of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's Books

    Related Links

  • Todd S. Purdum Reviews Godfrey Hodgson's 'The Gentleman From New York. Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Biography' (Aug. 13, 2000)
  • First Chapter: 'The Gentleman From New York'

    Richard Avedon/ Yale University
    Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

  • 3 in Race Are New to City's Politics (July 19, 1965)
    Moynihan had a reputation as an intellectual force who had influenced federal policymakers, but he had never held elected office at the time of his unsuccessful run for City Council President.

  • Moynihan Minimizes Split Among Queens Democrats (September 12, 1965)
    Moynihan's run for City Council President divided Queens Democrats.

  • Moynihan Hopeful U.S. Will Adopt a Policy of Promoting Family Stability (December 12, 1965)
    A White House panel on the family concurred with the conclusions of Moynihan's report that "a national family policy should be proclaimed and implemented."

  • Moynihan of the Moynihan Report (July 31, 1966)
    This profile of Moynihan says that he "has been one of Washington's most influential behind-the-scenes figures in the creation of the President's Great Society programs" despite the controversy over his report.

  • Lost Opportunity For Rights Cited (February 9, 1967)
    In an article in Commentary magazine, Moynihan argued that anger at his report had contributed to a slowing of the progress of the civil rights movement.

  • Moynihan Blames Low Status, Not Race, for Riots (July 25, 1967)
    "Race interacts with everything in America," Moynihan said. But he emphasized that in his view the riots were essentially caused by "a large, desperately unhappy and disorganized lower-class community" in American cities that happened to be prevalently nonwhite.


  • Nixon Naming of 3 Decried by Welch (January 7, 1969)
    Nixon's appointment of Moynihan as his chief adviser on urban affairs convinced the founder of the John Birch Society that the new President did not plan "any real change in the course this nation has followed since 1933."

  • Ford Pledges to Resist the Third World in the U.N. (July 1, 1975)
    At his swearing-in ceremony, President Ford urged Moynihan, the new chief U.N. delegate to resist countries that try to "exploit the mechanism of the United Nations for narrow political interests."

  • Brawler at the U.N. (December 7, 1975)
    Moynihan took a sometimes lonely stand against the U.N. resolution that declared that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination."


  • Moynihan Ready for Senate Race (June 10, 1976)
    Moynihan wavered before entering a crowded field for the Democratic nomination for Senate.

  • Moynihan Enters U.S. Senate Race (June 11, 1976)
    Moynihan, who had said at one point that it would be "dishonorable" for him to run for office, bowed to pressure from supporters to enter the Senate race.

  • Moynihan Edges Out Mrs. Abzug; Buckley Also Victor in Primary (September 15, 1976)
    In a close contest, Moynihan narrowly defeated Representative Bella S. Abzug.

  • Moynihan Is Given Liberal Nomination (September 28, 1976)
    With the help of the Governor, Moynihan stamped out a rebellion within the Liberal Party that had threatened to run a third candidate for Senate.

  • Buckley-Moynihan Contest Offers a Conservative-Liberal Showdown (October 4, 1976)
    In their beliefs about domestic policy, there were sharp differences between the candidates, with Moynihan supporting the notion that "the Federal Government has an active role to play, not just in the national economy but in the economy of this state."

  • Buckley and Moynihan in Final Debate (November 1, 1976)
    In a televised debate shortly before the election, Senator James L. Buckley promised to defeat Moynihan, whom he called "professor," so that "liberalism would never again show its ugly head in New York."

  • Moynihan Defeats Buckley For New York Senate Seat (November 3, 1976)
    Moynihan ran a cautious race and won a decisive victory against Buckley.

  • Moynihan Assails White House on Casey Files (July 22, 1981)
    Moynihan charged that the White House and the Justice Department had ignored the Senate Intelligence Committee's repeated requests for confidential files relating to the business dealings of the Director of Central Intelligence, William J. Casey.

  • Moynihan After One Term: The Pros and Cons of Independence (April 26, 1982)
    As he prepared to run for a second term as New York's Senator, Moynihan had tried to fulfill two roles: a diligent legislator who faithfully represents his constituency, and a leader in the realm of national policy ideas.


  • Mrs. Sullivan and Moynihan Trade Charges (October 12, 1982)
    In a contentious interview before the editors of The New York Times, Moynihan and Assemblywoman Florence M. Sullivan made their cases for endorsement.

  • Moynihan Wins Overwhelming Victory (November 3, 1982)
    Moynihan defeated Sullivan by the biggest majority in a Senate race in New York history.

  • Beyond 'Beyond the Melting Pot,' Moynihan and Glazer Feel Vindicated (December 3, 1983)
    In 1963, the idea that immigrants would retain a distinctive ethnic consciousness was highly controversial. Twenty years later, it had become widely accepted.

  • Moynihan to Quit Senate Panel Post in Dispute on C.I.A. (April 16, 1984)
    Moynihan resigned as vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in protest over the failure of the C.I.A. to inform the committee about the scope of United States involvement in the mining of Nicaraguan harbors.

  • Required Reading; Moynihan's Farewell (October 15, 1984)
    These are excerpts from a speech Moynihan gave after his resignation from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

  • Moynihan Opens Major Drive to Replace Welfare Program (January 24, 1987)
    As chairman of the Finance Committee's Subcommittee on Social Security and Family Policy, Moynihan began hearings that set the stage for a year-long effort to overhaul the nation's basic welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children.


  • For Moynihan, Challenge of Campaign (October 30, 1987)
    In his third Senate race, Moynihan was able to run what he called a "mom-and-pop campaign," managed by his wife, Elizabeth.

  • Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Liberal? Conservative? Or Just Pat? (September 16, 1990)
    This New York Times Magazine article was written shortly after the invasion of Kuwait had brought the issue of international law, the subject of a recent book by Moynihan, to the forefront.

  • The Street Fighter And the Professor; Moynihan and D'Amato: A Loyal Pair (March 15, 1993)
    In manner, method, and substance, their differences define them. But D'Amato and Moynihan actually seem to get along, sort of.

  • Prof. Moynihan and His Presidential Pupil (January 14, 1994)
    Moynihan was critical of Clinton's health care and welfare policies, and demanded an independent prosecutor for Whitewater.


  • G.O.P. Senate Contender Asserts D'Amato Is Undercutting Her Bid (October 18, 1994)
    Bernadette Castro expressed anger at Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato for refusing to campaign for his fellow Republican in her race against Moynihan, who had held his fire against D'Amato in 1992.

  • The Newest Moynihan (August 7, 1994)
    "Entering his fourth decade at the center of debate on social policy, Pat Moynihan has become the Grumpy Mayor of America," writes Todd S. Purdum in this New York Times Magazine campaign biography of Moynihan.

  • Moynihan Battles View He Gave Up On Welfare Fight (June 18, 1995)
    As a longtime expert on welfare policy and the as ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, Moynihan was expected to be a major player in the welfare reform debate, but critics argued that he allowed the debate to pass him by.

  • His Battle Now Lost, Moynihan Still Cries Out (August 2, 1996)
    Moynihan, a longtime critic of liberal welfare policy, was disappointed with the welfare reform bill Clinton signed: "The President has made his decision," he said, "Let us hope it is for the best."


  • 'Community Action in the War on Poverty' (1969)
    "There is the germ of an idea here. But one comes away from the book much as one might from a desultory after-dinner conversation, in which all sharpness and bite of analysis have dissolved in self- contradiction . . ."

  • 'The Politics of a Guaranteed Income' (1973)
    "Most of Moynihan's eloquent, polemical book is devoted to an exhaustively researched attack on the liberal opposition [to guaranteed income.]"

  • 'Coping' (1974)
    "[H]is essays -- whatever their faults -- are always literate, intelligent and frequently prescient."

  • 'Counting Our Blessings' (1980)
    "On the vagabond life of politics I can think of few people whom I would rather read than Senator Moynihan. . . . the essays collected in this volume testify to his grasp of both the theory and practice of what many of his countrymen still choose to regard as a black art."

  • 'Loyalties' (1984)
    ". . . continues Mr. Moynihan's tradition of elegant and original thinking on the big questions of the day."

  • 'Family and Nation' (1986)
    ". . . should be judged . . . as a political document rather than an analytical essay. . . . most important for the passion and indignation it shows . . ."

  • 'Came the Revolution' (1988)
    "Senator Moynihan is that rare phenomenon, an intellectual and a politician who excels, synergistically, at both occupations. . . . has some of the human interest of a picaresque political detective story, as the main character, Moynihan by name, tracks down the villainy of the Reagan Administration . . ."

  • 'On the Law of Nations' (1990)
    ". . . not only a forceful elucidation of the subject [of international law]; it is a cri de tete of a man who often sees things more accurately than others . . ."

  • 'Pandaemonium' (1993)
    "This is a book of needed warnings, a jeremiad full of insights (weighed down by too many references)."

  • 'Miles to Go' (1996)
    ". . . the story of modern American social policy and the story of Daniel Patrick Moynihan are one and the same. Whether this congruence has been a blessing for the Republic is something about which the reader . . . may entertain some doubts."

  • 'Secrecy: The American Experience' (1998)
    "Moynihan's withering account of the Government's bottomless appetite for 'intelligence' . . . is a dismaying tale, though [he] has told it with uncommon liveliness and a mordant wit . . ."
  • First Chapter: 'Secrecy'
  • And at Time:
     E B  E X C L U S I V E
    Appreciation: Daniel Patrick Moynihan
    The late New York Senator was never ashamed of his intelligence, a quality that's increasingly absent from politics

    Thursday, Mar. 27, 2003
    With Daniel Patrick Moynihan's death, Washington lost another member of an all but extinct breed: the politician as unapologetic intellectual. The former New York Senator, who died Wednesday at 76 from complications arising from a burst appendix, was known for his sharp wit and his nimble mind. He was also known for his refusal to toe to the party line. As such, he was occasionally a thorn in the side of both parties, frustrating liberals and conservatives alike. He defied easy categorization, and brought an academic sensibility to a town better known for its sensationalism.

    But it wasn't just his advanced degrees and his Fulbright scholarship that set Moynihan apart — there are plenty of intelligent members of Congress. Moynihan stood out because of his insistence on intellectual honesty and his unwillingness to walk away from a looming debate, no matter how messy it promised to be. Moynihan offered challenging, groundbreaking — sometimes even successful — solutions to perennial public policy dilemmas, including welfare and racism.

    This is the sort of intellectual stubbornness that rarely makes an appearance in Washington today. Successful politicians, including, most recently, Bill Clinton, usually temper their sharp intelligence with an ability to communicate in populist terms. The policy wonk who lacks a light touch — think Al Gore or Paul Simon — is subject to attack by the popular press for what is perceived as snobbery, while our less intellectually engaged politicians — think George W. Bush or Tim Hutchinson — are lauded for their ability to connect with voters.

    Moynihan, along with a few colleagues, including the late Paul Wellstone and current Rhode Island senator Lincoln Chafee, were able to win voters' confidence without having to compromise their messages, or their intellect. Whether he was led by political instinct or innate conviction, Moynihan believed fiercely in the importance of serious, multi-layered debate, a skill that continues to dissipate as the daily sound bytes shrink.

    Americans in recent years have made it clear we don't want to elect politicians who are smarter than we are. Rather than pin our national hopes to politicians at ease with nuance, most of us seem to crave average thinkers with average ideas. And that's a shame, because all of us should feel encouraged and comforted, rather than threatened, by the presence of great thinkers in Washington. As Moynihan proved over the course of nearly forty years in government, great minds are well-used in the messy and essential arena of public service.

    At  Yahoo!

    Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: Daniel Patrick Moynihan - biography of the Democratic Senator who served from 1977 until 2001.

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan's Speech on Welfare Reform - features the text of a 1995 speech.

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Former Senator From New York, Dies at 76 - 2003 obituary from the New York Times. Registration required.

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Retrospective - news and reviews from the archives of The New York Times.

    For The Sake Of Argument - profile of the late Seantor and Ambassador by Jacob Weisberg for the New York Times.

    Moynihan Enigma, The - assesses Moynihan's political legacy. From The American Prospect.

    Moynihan on Moynihan - 1996 review of Moynihan's autobiography by Mickey Kaus.

    PBS Think Tank: Daniel Patrick Moynihan in Perspective - archive of a 1997 program in which the U.S. Senator looked back on his political career.

    PBS: The First Measured Century: Daniel Patrick Moynihan - interview with Moynihan focusing on his work in issuing the 1965 "Report on the Negro Family."

    Senator of Design - describes Moynihan's love of architecture and his involvement with federal projects such as the rebuilding of Pennsylvania Avenue and the redevelopment of Penn Station. - Too Smart For Congress, Too Tough For Academia - personal remembrances of Pat Moynihan.

    Wikipedia: Daniel Patrick Moynihan - hyperlinked biography of the four-term U.S. Senator.



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