As a J-school student in college, one of my required curricula was a subscription to The New York Times. The highlight of having that subscription was reading columnist William Safire. Not only was he a great writer – but we has a writer’s writer. That is, he had true command of the English language and I never read a column of his (whether it was about politics or grammar) that I didn’t learn something very useful. Of particular use as a budding journalism student was his weekly column “On Lanugage.”
His impact on the world will likely be underplayed – since he was a lonely conservative voice among the liberal chorus at the New York Times. Two of his most famous phrases, “nattering nabobs of negativism” and “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history” will ensure that he is forever remembered, at least among a small band of happy warriors. William Safire, dead at age 79. RIP.