Thursday, March 27, 2003

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A SCHOLAR AND A GENTLEMAN: When I was a graduate student at Stanford, I was fortunate enough to hear Vaclav Havel come and give an address. Afterwards, my friends and I speculated on whether there was any contemporary American that could equal Havel’s political and intellectual prowess. Racking our brains, we came up with only one possibility: Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

So it's a tragedy to hear that Moynihan died yesterday. The war will probably obscure the plaudits this man deserves. Mickey Kaus provides a lovely elegy (he has links to other obits as well), without being afraid to point out when Moynihan was wrong. Other online takes include Patrick Belton, William Kristol, and David Frum,

My take? Moynihan was the rare social scientist who could move the national debate – though not always in the way he wished. For every mistake that he made – welfare reform – he was undeniably right about something even bigger – like, in 1979, predicting the demise of communism by 1990.

George Will also devotes today's column to Moynihan. It contains this priceless nugget:

"In his first campaign, in 1976, Moynihan's opponent was the incumbent, James Buckley, who playfully referred to 'Professor Moynihan' from Harvard. Moynihan exclaimed with mock indignation, 'The mudslinging has begun!'"

Rest in peace, Senator Moynihan: you knew your correlations from your causations.

posted by Dan on 03.27.03 at 05:05 PM