by Glen Herbert
Daniel Patrick Moynihan was one of those career politicians who was always there, and always found a way to distinguish himself. He was the only member of the Nixon inner circle to have done any academic research into social policy. When he was Ambassador to India he wrote what was at the time, and remains, the world’s largest cheque. It was a single piece of paper, which he endorsed with his signature, for a figure just north of two billion 1974 dollars.
As a senator he distinguished himself as a voice of reason, criticizing Reagan’s support of the Contras. He noted that there was no evidence of a communist conspiracy in Latin America, and further that the USSR was in any case in no position to support anyone anywhere, given the decay of its economy. This was in 1986, the year he also predicted that the days of the USSR as a prominent force in world politics were coming to an end. No one believed him, of course, but it probably didn’t matter anyway. Unless, of course, you lived in Latin America during the Reagan administration or you were Oliver North.
Through it all–a career in federal politics that spanned eight presidents–Moynihan wore a bow tie. Not exclusively, but off and on. The colour could vary, but his trademark was white polkadots. Sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller. He tied his bowties just like his mother taught him to tie his shoes when he was 14 months old. Which is hard to believe, but that’s what he said: he actually learned to tie his shoes at the age of one year and two months. Balls, you might say. But, there again, Moynihan–despite his doughy face and stuttering delivery–certainly had them.