- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

Former New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a liberal Democrat who questioned liberal dogma, died yesterday. He was 76.
Mr. Moynihan died of complications from a ruptured appendix at 4:15 p.m. at the Washington Hospital Center, hospital officials said. He underwent surgery March 11 to remove the appendix, but afterward developed an infection and pneumonia.
Widely respected for his social-policy writings, Mr. Moynihan served the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. New York's current senators, both Democrats, paid tribute to him from the Senate floor yesterday afternoon.
"We have lost a great American, an extraordinary senator, an intellectual and a man of passion and understanding about what really makes this country great," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who succeeded Mr. Moynihan in 2001.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer said, "His life was a testament to the fact that one man who just thinks can make a difference to society."
Praise from the other side of the aisle was equally effusive, with former Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi saying: "I have not known a more brilliant or more erudite senator."
President Bush said in a statment: "Senator Moynihan was an intellectual pioneer and a trusted adviser to presidents of both parties. … He committed his life to service and will be sorely missed."
"In establishing himself as one of our nation's most eloquent voices in the quest for a more civil society, Senator Moynihan was the very example of what a statesman should be," said former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
The Almanac of American Politics called Mr. Moynihan "the nation's best thinker among politicians since Lincoln, and its best politician among thinkers since Jefferson." Columnist George Will once said Mr. Moynihan has written more books (18) than most senators have read.
His office said a funeral Mass is scheduled for Monday in Washington, and he will be buried that day with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
A bow-tied academic whose erudition and courtly manner gave little hint of his working-class roots in New York's Hell's Kitchen, Mr. Moynihan wrote a seminal report on poverty in 1965 that exposed a deep fracture in the liberal coalition.
In "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action," Mr. Moynihan wrote: "At the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of Negro society is the deterioration of the Negro family."
In his report, Mr. Moynihan then a 38-year-old assistant secretary of labor in the Johnson administration said "the steady expansion" of welfare programs "can be taken as a measure of the steady disintegration of the Negro family structure over the past generation in the United States."
The reaction was furious. Martin Luther King warned that what became known as "the Moynihan Report" would be "used to justify neglect and rationalize oppression." Mr. Moynihan was accused of racism and "blaming the victim," and soon left the administration to accept an academic post at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"The liberal Left can be as rigid and destructive as any force in American life," he wrote in 1967.
It was not until the 1990s that elite opinion accepted Mr. Moynihan's conclusions, influencing the 1996 Welfare Reform Act although the New York senator voted against that bill.
Born in Tulsa, Okla., Mr. Moynihan soon moved with his family to New Jersey, but he spent most of his childhood in a working-class New York neighborhood. After his alcoholic father died when he was 10, he sold newspapers, shined shoes and worked on the docks.
Graduating from East Harlem's Benjamin Franklin High School, Mr. Moynihan attended City College before enlisting in the Navy in 1944. He graduated from Tufts University, added master's and doctoral degrees and attended the London School of Economics as a Fulbright scholar.
Entering political life as a speechwriter for New York Gov. W. Averell Harriman in 1954, he went to Washington to join the Kennedy administration in 1961. After his election to the Senate in 1976, Mr. Moynihan tended to move left or right to counterbalance the administration.
When Democrat Jimmy Carter was president, Mr. Moynihan called the administration's foreign policy weak and naive, and said: "A party of the working class cannot be dominated by former editors of the Harvard Crimson." But during the Reagan years, Mr. Moynihan called for a nuclear freeze and blasted the administration for deficit spending.
Liberals would later blame Mr. Moynihan for the defeat of the Clinton administration's health care plan.
As chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committeee, Mr. Moynihan appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press," on Sept. 19, 1993 three days before President Clinton was to deliver his speech calling for universal health insurance and said there was "no health care crisis." He dismissed as a "fantasy" the administration's claims that its plan would save $91 billion.
Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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