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A Modest Proposition

Is Daniel P. Moynihan the Devil?


Posted Thursday, September 23, 1999

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        Have you ever considered the possibility that Daniel Patrick Moynihan is the center of evil in the modern world? Initially, this proposition might seem counterintuitive, I know. But consider the evidence:

        1) In 1965, Moynihan writes an influential essay praising the "professionals" who would go to Washington and use the "information available for social planning" to make policy. Result: these "professionals" become the hated New Class of 'pointy-headed bureaucrats' who discredit the idea of activist government.

        2) Moynihan co-authors the 1963 book, Beyond The Melting Pot, which asserts that America's ethnics aren't melting, don't intermarry, etc.. It becomes respectable for all manner of groups to define themselves by their racial and ethnic backgrounds. Result: the curse of "identity politics" is loosed on the land.

        3) Moynihan drafts the "final submission" of the interagency commission that recommends the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill. Result: social disaster. Thousands of pathetically ill people are freed to wander the streets and cause harm to the social order, to themselves, and to others.

        4) Moynihan writes a 1965 speech for President Johnson to deliver at Howard University, in which LBJ calls for "not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and equality as a result," pregnant words that lead to what we now call "affirmative action." Result: American society is riven by a rancorous ongoing debate over racial preferences.

        5) Moynihan writes his 1965 report identifying a "tangle of pathology" destroying the institution of the black family, but he omits (probably for careerist reasons) a discussion of possible solutions. Result: pointing out the black family's troubles is labeled an excuse for doing nothing ("blaming the victim"); the War on Poverty gets knocked off track; and honest discussion of America's gravest social problem ceases for two decades. Welfare rolls fill up with single mothers.

        6) Moynihan pushes his 1969 plan for a "guaranteed income," which tries to cure the perversity of sending checks to single mothers by sending checks to everyone. The plan fails, but its acceptance by the policy elite helps destigmatize the dole. Result: Welfare dependency continues to soar; the black ghettos become nightmarish pockets of broken families, crime, and 'opposition culture.'

        7) With these social forces in place, Moynihan urges a racial policy of "benign neglect."

        8) When Jimmy Carter proposes reforming welfare, Senator Moynihan helps defeat the plan, while whining about the need for fiscal relief for New York state ("[T]he time has come to think of ourselves," he says.) Result: the welfare crisis goes unaddressed for another decade, while the ghettos get even worse, and Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich get the issue that lets them to sweep into power.

        An impressive record. Now comes Alexander Cockburn, writing in the N.Y. Press about the massacres of East Timorese by pro-Indonesian militias. Cockburn points out that -- it's too eerie! -- Daniel Patrick Moynihan had a hand in that disaster as well. It seems that as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, he helped snuff out any opposition to Indonesia's invasion in 1975 of what had been a Portuguese colony seeking independence. In his U.N. memoir, A Dangerous Place, Moynihan boasts "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."

        Brilliant, blindered egomaniac, or satanic force? You, the reader, be the judge!

        P.S.: Did I mention that today Daniel Patrick Moynihan endorsed Bill Bradley for President?

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Copyright 1999 Mickey Kaus.

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