William Safire, the political columnist, presidential speechwriter, novelist, and arbiter of language died today. I thought I would do a brief tribute here.
Although I strongly disagreed with his politics, I always saw him as a charming , interesting ,and decent guy. I loved his "On Language' Column for the New York Times. How could you not like someone who managed to come up with the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism", albeit for Spiro Agnew.
I talked briefly on the phone with him several years ago, pretty much by mistake. I ran across something I thought he might be interested in for his language column. I called the New York Times re where to send it. They put me through directly to Safire. I apologized, and said I didn't mean to bother him. He laughed and told me where to send my information.
Here is the obituary from the New York Times.
A column discussing the origin of my favorite term from the financial crisis: "zombie banks".
One of the most interesting speeches Safire wrote,which fortunately never had to be delivered, was a "what-if" speech for President Nixon, , in case Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had to be abandoned on the moon after the first lunar landing.