In search of Times past

In The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980, Steven Hayward had the inspired idea of taking Daniel Patrick Moynihan as the liberal counterpart to Ronald Reagan. Writing in 2001 when Moynihan had just stepped down from his Senate seat and was living in retirement, Steve explained in his prologue:

In addition to including the reasonable criticism [of liberalism] of Reagan, this narrative also aims to tell the liberal’s side of the story with due respect and sympathy, and does so partly from the perspective of the one figure whose experience bridges the entire time-span in view: Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the thinking man’s liberal, whose advice, had it been followed, might have saved liberalism from running aground and the Democratic Party from its electoral ruin at the hands of Reagan….He has been on the scene, if not right in the middle, of most of the prominent controversies in America from 1964 until his retirement from the Senate in 2000.

Moynihan served as America’s ambassador to the United Nations for nine months in 1975-76, during which time the General Assembly adopted its odious “Zionism is a form of racism” resolution. Moynihan’s memoir of his tenure at the UN — A Dangerous Place — is now sadly out of print, but could not be more timely.

In the conclusion of his prologue to The Age of Reagan, Steve writes: “If any person can claim vindication for his record of criticism and prognostication, it is Moynihan.” In A Dangerous Place, Moynihan’s criticism of the desiccated liberalism of the New York Times is a theme of the chapter discussing his nomination by President Ford to serve as ambassador to the United Nations. Moynihan’s criticism of the Times in connection with his own nomination in 1975 sits in judgment on the Times’s condemnation of John Bolton, both in its July 23 page-one hit piece by Warren Hoge (now behind TimesSelect) and its pro forma editorial yesterday.

Beyond their treatment by the New York Times, one connection between Moynihan and Bolton is Bolton’s role in securing the repeal of the “Zionism is racism” resolution by the United Nations in 1991 during Bolton’s service in the Bush (41) administration. President Bush (43) mentioned Bolton’s role in securing the repeal of what he termed the “shameful” resolution in his remarks concerning his recess appointmment of Ambassador Bolton, as did Condoleezza Rice in her March 2005 remarks concerning Bolton’s nomination. Upon the adoption of the resolution in November 1975, Moynihan gave a magnificent speech, the first and last sentence of which (Moynihan notes in his memoir) had been contributed by Norman Podhoretz: “The United States rises to declare before the General Assembly of the United Nations and before the world, that it does not acknowledge, it does not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act.” Bolton’s role in the undoing of the infamous act is sketched by Thomas Boyd in an excellent April 2005 Boston Globe column supporting Bolton’s nomination.

In any event, I place Moynihan’s account of his treatment by the Times in the context of the Bolton nomination in a column for the Standard this morning: “Déjà Vu, All Over Again.” Please check it out. (Thanks to RealClearPolitics for including the column in its honor roll this morning.)

UPDATE: Put this New York Sun story in the category of today’s good news, consistent with the Times’s formulaic editorial opposition to Bolton: “Schumer says Bolton won’t face filibuster.”


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