William Safire, Rest in Prose

Nice sendoff to William Safire in Monday’s New York Times: a respectable (although not Grade A) obit, and a reprint of Safire’s final op-ed column from Jan. 24, 2005.

Headlined “How to Read a Column,” Safire’s swan song starts this way:

At last I am at liberty to vouchsafe to you the dozen rules in reading a political column.

The dozen rules not only puncture the pomposity of the punditocracy (that one’s for you, Bill), but also poke fun at Safire himself. To wit:

9. Cherchez la source. Ingest no column (or opinionated reporting labeled “analysis”) without asking: Cui bono? And whenever you see the word “respected” in front of a name, narrow your eyes. You have never read “According to the disrespected (whomever).”

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.)

(Also avoid “to wit,” nitwit.)

Agree with him or not, Safire rarely misfired during his 37-year Times tenure. The politerati are poorer without him.

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2 Responses to William Safire, Rest in Prose

  1. ctrenta says:

    Don’t get me wrong. Saffire was a great writer. I just didn’t like him for his politics… or quotes like these.

    “I count myself among the minority who hail Arik Sharon for performing a great service in dispersing the PLO.” – Williams Saffire November 20, 1984.

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