You may be wondering where this crazy notion came from. Honestly, I never would have thought of it myself, so of course it came from some reading on the web. Specifically, it came from this article:
"A historian of American intellectual thought would probably conclude that once there were actually serious neoconservative thinkers like Daniel Bell, Nathan Glaser, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Irving Kristol who published original and ground-breaking works on social and economic policy, some of which have become classics in the field. But when it comes to the field of international relations, neoconservatism has failed to produce any great thinkers, and will instead be remembered for its many pundits and operators, or policy entrepreneurs..."The article is a reflection or complaint about neoconservative foreign policy, and is worth reading. But what really lit my fuse was the reference to Moynihan as a neocon. Is it possible that he actually was a neocon?
I have a few memories of Moynihan, who was senator from New York (my home state) from 1977 to 2001. He seemed to have a clearer insight into problems than other politicians, and he wasn't afraid to depart from the party line. In that vein, he raised concerns about welfare and its effect in breaking down black families. He was decades ahead of others with that insight (though it doesn't tell the whole story of family breakdown).
I know I can't rely on my memory to answer the question of whether Moynihan was a neocon, so I went to my constant friend Google. It brought me to another fascinating article about Moynihan's long history in politics. The article contains a hint that perhaps Moynihan was a neocon:
"He had predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union as early as 1979 (all those years spent studying ethnic conflicts and failed economic development projects were not in vain). As the Berlin Wall came down, he began to rethink the world in the most sweeping terms. He decided that that moment was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to establish global rule of law. Needless to say, that project didn’t come to anything. But his letters on the subject still make for fascinating reading."Luckily, he couldn't have been full neocon because he voted against authorization of the first Gulf War. Perhaps he could be classified as a social neocon since he voted for outlawing partial-birth abortions (more properly called dilation and extraction abortions). But his voting record is quite mixed--against welfare reform (strangely), against the Defense of Marriage Act--so he doesn't seem like a social conservative either.
The upshot is that it seems a stretch to define Moynihan as a neocon. Phew, that's a relief!