Moody, (Arthur Edson) Blair (Feb. 13, 1902 - July 20, 1954), journalist and United States senator, was born in New Haven, Conn., the son of Arthur Edson Blair and Julia Downey Moody. He attended public schools in Providence, R.I., and then entered Brown University, where he majored in economics. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, won recognition as a debater, and excelled in athletics. He graduated in 1922 and was offered a Rhodes scholarship, which he declined for financial reasons.
Moody married Mary Williamson on June 6, 1925; they had one son. The marriage ended in divorce and Moody married Ruth Curtis Amadon on September 14, 1940. They had two sons.
After a year of teaching and coaching at the Moses Brown School in Providence, Moody moved to Detroit and embarked on a career in journalism. In the 1930's he covered Detroit's City Hall while Frank Murphy was mayor, and during World War II he reported from the battlefields of North Africa, the Near East, Italy, and western Europe. But most of his reporting was from Washington, and in his regular column for the Detroit News he analyzed the United States' role in world affairs and the efforts to build a full-employment peacetime economy.
Moody had the rare talent of being able to grasp a central issue and explain it in language that ordinary people could understand. He was among the first journalists to understand the intricacies of Keynesian economics and to communicate his insights to his thousands of readers.
Moody's influence often reached beyond the ordinary newspaper reader. According to insiders on Capitol Hill, it was he who played a crucial role in converting Michigan Senator Arthur Vandenberg from isolationism and who helped draft the speech that signaled the beginning of bipartisanship in foreign policy. Vandenberg had been a major spokesman for American isolationists and until World War II had consistently opposed United States involvement in the internal affairs of other nations or participation in international politics outside the western hemisphere. Yet, on Jan. 10, 1945, Vandenberg, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, confessed to a dramatic reversal in his thinking. Moody was in the press gallery when Vandenberg told a flabbergasted Senate that "our oceans have ceased to be moats which automatically protect our ramparts" and that no nation could hereafter "immunize itself" from world affairs and world conflicts.
When Vandenberg died in 1951, Democratic Governor G. Mennen Williams appointed Moody to replace him. It was an unanticipated and unconventional choice, but explainable in terms of the "new politics" that Williams had brought to Michigan. Williams wanted liberals who also knew the realities of politics, and Moody seemed to be just such a person. Williams ignored the dissenting views of some of the Democratic leaders. Moody became the first working reporter to descend directly from the Senate press gallery to the Senate floor. As he took his seat, his former colleagues broke into applause.
In the Senate, Moody joined the liberal bloc. He fought against special legislation and for legislation designed to achieve full employment and to combat recessions. He consistently supported civil rights measures.
Moody was defeated for reelection in the Eisenhower landslide of 1952, losing by only 46,000 votes. He resumed his newspaper and radio career, biding his time until he could run against Michigan's conservative senior senator, Homer Ferguson, in 1954. On a campaign trip he was stricken with viral pneumonia and died in Ann Arbor of complications. More than 40,000 persons voted for him in the primary--held a month after his death.
[Moody's writings include Boom or Bust (1941); "High Commissioner to Manila," Survey Graphic, Dec. 1935; "Mr. Smith Doubles for Roosevelt," Saturday Evening Post, March 27, 1943; "Crusaders F.O.B. Detroit," ibid.; "Reporter-Senator Reports on the Senate," New York Times Magazine, Aug. 5, 1951.
See also "Moody Changes His By-Line," Life, May 14, 1951; "Senator Die-Hard," Newsweek, Dec. 1, 1952; "Vandenberg's Successor," Time, Apr. 30, 1951.]