Remembering William Safire

William Safire, former Nixon speechwriter and New York Times columnist, has died. He was 79.

Safire was famous for many achievements, winning a Pulitzer Prize for commentary for columns critical of the Carter administration. He wrote numerous books, including several about writing.

Editors and writers remember him as the author of the On Language column in the NYT for 30 years. Some of that work is among in this collection on the Times site, and a topics page there is devoted to him.

Safire also contributed these phrases to our political language:

  • Calling critics of the Vietnam War “nattering nabobs of negativism.”
  • Calling Hillary Clinton “a congenital liar.”

That and other details are included in the well-written Safire obit on the NYT site. It ends on a grammatical note — a suitable send-off for a man who loved language.


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