Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a genuine intellectual, but also a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat who revelled in partisan politics. He was a true iconoclast, but delighted in the trappings and traditions of the Senate. He was a serious and original analyst of the dynamics of human development – at times seeming to be able to predict the future – but displayed the showman’s oratorical flourishes and exaggerated mannerisms. Although we disagreed with him on several occasions, we share with most others an abiding respect for his intelligence, creativity and the sense of history he always brought to the table.
In the Jewish community, he was especially admired for his almost singlehanded, and ultimately successful, battle against the “Zionism Is Racism” UN resolution while serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN. And, in the United States Senate, he was a leading force in securing the passage of the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 1995 which called on the United States to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.
Of particular interest these days is his prescient article on the coming collapse of significance of the UN in Commentary magazine in 1975, in which he described the United States as being continually outvoted by majorities of third rate powers who were fast taking over the world body. Even then, he concluded that the UN was “a sterile enterprise which awaits total redefinition.”
Senator Moynihan was no saint. But he was one of a kind.
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