William Safire

William Safire brilliantly (and cynically) explained “a dozen rules in reading a political column.” My favourite: “To give an aimless harangue the illusion of shapeliness, some of us begin… with a historical allusion or revealing anecdote, then wander around for 600 words before concluding by harking back to an event or quotation in the opening graph. This stylistic circularity gives the reader a snappy sense of completion when the pundit has not figured out his argument’s conclusion.”

Safire, journalist, speechwriter and writer, is dead. His politics weren’t mine but he was a fine and always interesting writer with a feel for language.  The obituary records the life of a man who “was a college dropout and proud of it, a public relations go-getter who set up the famous Nixon-Khrushchev “kitchen debate” in Moscow, and a White House wordsmith in the tumultuous era of war in Vietnam, Nixon’s visit to China and the gathering storm of the Watergate scandal, which drove the president from office.”

See Safire’s writings here, including columns, baseball, and language.

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