Moonrise is just not a good example here. Sensitometry was not what it is now, materials were not what they are now, he couldn't find his light meter, didn't know how underexposed the foreground might be, etc. We also have to acknowledge Adams's technical reasoning - as much as we all admire him - was not always 100% sound.
I don't think anyone was suggesting Peter "settle" from a technical perspective. I simply don't think there is much that could have been done to materially improve the negative given the criteria set out in the original post.
The effects of both halation and irradiation can be impacted by development. Barring gross overexposure, microdensitometry would likely be required to objectively evaluate all this with current films which have effective anti-halation dyes and acutance dyes to reduce irradiation.