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Paying Tribute To Safire

safire.jpgSince his death yesterday, William Safire‘s colleagues have been offering tribute. Here’s a few of our favorites:

Former New York Times columnist Leslie H. Gelb writes on about advice Safire offered him on column writing many years ago:

“Half the columns you write will be no better than C+. Write them and go home…And make sure that at least twice a year you make somebody bleed in your column.”

In its obituary, The Washington Post called the former Nixon speech writer “rapier-witted”:

“His catchy turns of phrase often outlived the context in which they were delivered. Perhaps the most memorable was the acidic and alliterative putdown he crafted for Vice President Spiro T. Agnew to describe those in the press who opposed the Vietnam war. They were, Agnew said, ‘nattering nabobs of negativism.’”

In its short and sweet tribute, The Wall Street Journal lauded Safire for as a conservative and a wordsmith:

“Unlike many columnists, Safire did not soar at 35,000 feet bemoaning what fools these mortals be. He did his own reporting, digging up stories and anecdotes that embarrassed politicians who deserved to be embarrassed. He was a master of his craft, a student of the English language who loved the playful use of words.”

But no one can be quite as eloquent as the man himself, who is best paid tribute to through his own work, like this tongue-in-cheek column from 2005, reprinted by the Times today, that instructs readers who to digest a political column with 12 simple rules. Like number 10:

“Resist swaydo-intellectual writing. Only the hifalutin trap themselves into ‘whomever’ and only the tort bar uses the Latin for ‘who benefits?’ Columnists who show off should surely shove off. (And avoid all asinine alliteration.)”

Earlier: William Safire, NYT Columnist, Dies At 79

(Photo by Fred R. Conrad)

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