Aeschliman_Review
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Remembering Moynihan

Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003) was the most substantial intellectual to reach high political office in the United States since Woodrow Wilson.  Thus his life, writings, policy deliberations, and political efforts, and the effects of these, deserve the most careful and respectful attention.  If the apocalyptic era of European history began with the outbreak of World War I in 1914, it is arguable that the American time of troubles reached critical mass in 1965—just 50 years ago—when Moynihan’s report to President Lyndon Johnson on the precipitous decline of the African-American family became public knowledge.  Moynihan’s worries about the decline of the American family—white, black, and otherwise—have proved to be prophetic.  As the sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia put it in 2010, “Non-marital child-bearing among [all] women with high-school degrees more than tripled in the last three decades—from 13 percent in 1982 to 44 percent in 2006-8.”

Greg Weiner, a political scientist, has written an excellent short book on Moynihan, rightly comparing his thought and career with those of Edmund Burke.  Weiner’s book joins several other important volumes on Moynihan, including Godfrey Hodgson’s excellent The Gentleman From New York: Daniel Patrick Moynihan, A Biography (2000), and the indispensable recent anthology...

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