Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist, language expert and former White House speechwriter William Safire died Sunday, his assistant said. He was 79.
Safire had been diagnosed with cancer and died a hospice in Maryland, said his assistant, Rosemary Shields. She declined to specify the type of cancer Safire had or say when he had been diagnosed.
Safire spent more than 30 years writing on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. In his “On Language” column in The New York Times Magazine and 15 books, Safire traced the origins of words and everyday phrases such as “straw-man,” “under the bus” and “the proof is in the pudding”.
……Along with George Will and William F. Buckley Jr., Safire’s smooth prose helped make conservatism respectable in the 1970s, paving the way for the Reagan Revolution. A pioneer of opinionated reporting, Safire’s columns were often filled with sources from Washington and the Middle East, making them a must-read for Beltway insiders.
William Safire was the only good columnist in an otherwise worthless leftwing rag. I loved his insights on the history and use of the English language. His commentary was always controversial and never compromising.