William Safire, RIP. He had the kind of career most pundits dream of; with experience both as a politico, and as a highly successful opinion-maker. He won acclaim and a Pulitzer for his reporting on Bert Lance, budget director for President Jimmy Carter, who had to resign from government because of allegations of financial impropriety Safire took the lead in reporting on. And he won a name for himself thanks to his ability to carve out a niche for himself as a linguist. All of his talents are on display in the following passage; a passage that is perhaps one of the most fitting and complimentary remembrances of William Safire:
Years later, Mr. Safire called Hillary Clinton a “congenital liar” in print. Mrs. Clinton said she was offended only for her mother’s sake. But a White House aide said that Bill Clinton, “if he were not president, would have delivered a more forceful response on the bridge of Mr. Safire’s nose.”
Mr. Safire was delighted, especially with the proper use of the conditional.