The question most often asked about Jeane J. Kirkpatrick is whether as ambassador to the United Nations she will be "another Moynihan." Friends and colleagues of Mrs. Kirkpatrick say that, while she thrives on debate and will vigorously defend United States policies, she will be less flamboyant, independent, and confrontational than was Daniel Patrick Moynihan during his tenure at the UN.
While she has Cabinet rank, the new ambassador is expected to follow guidelines established by Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. Reagan administration officials share a conviction that Carter administration ambassadors Andrew Young and Donald McHenry acted too independently at the UN. Secretary Haig advocates "consistency" as a prime foreign policy virtue.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick, a Democrat who campaigned for Ronald Reagan last fall and has been categorized by some as a "neoconservative," has described her political orientation as liberal, with a conservative root.
Last month she triggered liberal outrage when she declared that if the US is confronted with a choice between aiding a "moderately repressive autocratic government which is also friendly to the United States and permitting it to be overrun by a Cuban-trained, Cuban-armed, Cuban-sponsored insurgency, we would assist the moderate autocracy."
What drew Mrs. Kirkpatrick to Ronald Reagan's attention was an article which she wrote in 1979 for Commentary magazine entitled "Dictatorships and Double Standards." In it, she accused President Carter of abhoring autocrats on the right while appeasing those on the left. She argued that traditional authoritarian governments are "less repressive than revolutionary autocracies . . ., more susceptible of liberalization, and . . . more compatible with US interests."
Mrs. Kirkpatrick was a professor of government at Georgetown University and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. She interrupted work on a PhD for several years so that she could devote herself to raising her three sons.
A lover of baroque music, particularly that of Bach, Mrs. Kirkpatrick is celebrated among friends for her French cuisine and desserts. One of her closest advisers is her husband, Evron (Kirk) Kirkpatrick, outgoing president of the American Political Science Association.