Moynihan Review

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Host intro: Stop the presses: Pete du Pont has something nice to say about a Democrat. Actually, as the policy chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis reminds us, there are Democrats and there are Democrats.......

....and the most interesting, for my money, is New York senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

For thirty years, since he was a professor at Harvard, Moynihan has tried to talk sense to America about welfare reform, the decay of cities, the breakdown of the family. Some of his ideas about these and other subjects are collected in a new book called Miles To Go: A Personal History of Social Policy.

The Clintons will not read it with pleasure, because the book revisits Moynihan's rigid opposition to the disastrous health care plan which would have socialized a seventh of the country's economy. He reiterates an old Moynihan theme, even if it means siding with part of the Contract with America: that government policy should encourage people to work, not to have children out of wedlock. The book also reprints his famous essay "Defining Deviancy Down," which argues that we only encourage crime by excusing on the basis of discrimination, unemployment and other factors rather than facing the fact that we no longer have the guts to say one thing's right and another wrong.

Some liberals think Moynihan's a conservative. Conservatives think he's a liberal. It's partly his fault. I'm not the first to point out that Moynihan doesn't always vote the way he thinks: he can rail against the deterioration of the cities and the family, yet vote against welfare reform. So from a practical standpoint, I suppose I wish he was back at Harvard writing books. But in a Senate often filled with blow-dried sameness, Moynihan's an original.

Well, those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas -- even some from Democrats -- can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Host outro: Monday, where's the Republican party headed in the next few years? Pete du Pont has an idea.