Daniel Patrick Moynihan was just a hack liberal politician. Oh, he was a learned Harvard professional, very erudite and charming. He wrote a bunch of books.
A lot of Republicans and conservatives liked him. George Will regarded him as a personal friend. Great for him.
Moynihan was more annoying to me sometimes, though, than even an average Democrat congressman. This is because of his especially highly developed talent for talking out both sides of his mouth. He goddam KNEW better than the welfare state crap. He wrote voluminous books about it. From David Frum’s intended to be positive obituary note:
When it came time to say ‘aye’ or ‘nay,’ Moynihan was a loyal adherent of the liberal wing of the Democratic party. When Americans for Democratic Action and the American Conservative Union handed out their annual ratings, Moynihan regularly scored in the high 80s and low 90s on the liberal scale; under 10 on the conservative scale. I remember watching him from the Senate balcony during the impeachment fight, his mouth not merely closed, but his lips pressed together as tight as the two sides of a Ziploc bag, as if to prevent any stray syllable of condemnation from slipping out.
But off the Senate floor, at the typewriter and the rostrum, few writers of the century have more vividly and powerfully described the failure and collapse of the liberal project of the 1960s.
Talk is cheap. Moynihan could tell you all day long in eloquent detail about the failings of the welfare state, but in his powerful role as a United States senator where it really counted, he voted for all the standard crap right down the line.
So then, Moynihan was in practice just another hack Democrat partisan. His passing is surely a tragedy for his family and personal friends, but no loss of a statesman for the rest of us.