Senator Moynihan, Senator Schumer, Senator-Elect Clinton, Chief Judge Mukasey, Chief Judge Walker, Congressman Nadler, Congressman Rangel, Commissioner Peck, all the distinguished members of the court, public officials.
In his twenty-four years of service to the people of New York, Senator Moynihan has exemplified grace, style, wit and effectiveness in office. He has established himself as one of our nation's most eloquent voices in the quest for a better and more civil society.
Senator Moynihan has been called a throwback to an era in which men of ideas - such as Jefferson, Webster, and Lincoln - drove the politics of our nation. But he is more than just a reminder of bygone eras. His example shows his colleagues, his fellow New Yorkers and his fellow Americans that ideas and effective political leadership can be each other's greatest allies, and that they don't have to be separated.
Armed with extraordinary intelligence and the courage of his convictions, Senator Moynihan has illuminated sometimes murky political debates with his wisdom and his common sense. He could disarm opponents with flashes of humor, in statements such as, "the single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it's so rare." Or he could make people uncomfortable with his insight and honesty, and really spur on a fundamental change in the way people think. For example, in a speech that he gave in New York City eight years ago he said, about the City and the nation, that we were in the process of "defining deviancy down." I would say that was the point at which we started thinking of moving in the other direction.
But when the controversy of the moment passed, invariably Senator Moynihan was proven right: right on the necessity of welfare reform; right on the importance of responsible fathers to the structure of our society; and right on embracing the immigrant heritage of our City and nation.
One of my favorite of the many ideas that this author or editor of 18 books has developed is the annual accounting of the flow of funds between the Federal Government and the State of New York. He demonstrated that there was and continues to be a significant imbalance of over $15 billion. So one of the legislative tributes that I would suggest to Senator Moynihan is, let's cure the imbalance. We can use the money.
This youngster from Hell's Kitchen this graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School in East Harlem this gunnery officer in the Navy this staff member to Governor Harriman and four successive Presidents Ambassador to India and Representative to the United Nations this Senator and statesman this New Yorker who has always remembered his City richly deserves the enduring tribute that he is receiving today.
The Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse will stand for the same ideals of justice, common sense and civic pride that Senator Moynihan has stood for his entire life. Congratulations, Senator, and on behalf of a very grateful City, thank you for your lifetime of service.
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