William Safire, the former Richard Nixon speechwriter-turned New York Times columnist died today. He was 79.
Safire's transition from Nixon loyalist to the Times was a controversial one when it was announced in 1973. But in his three decades at the newspaper, Safire, though an unabashed conservative, skewered politicians of both political parties and won a Pulitzer Prize in the process.
Throughout his long career, Safire — who wrote the "on Language" column at the Times as well as his "New Political Dictionary" — was known as a prominent wordsmith. He created the memorable "nattering nabobs of negativism" for then-Vice President Spiro Agnew, and years later, while at the Times, he called then-First Lady Hillary Clinton a "congenital liar." His op-ed column ended in 2005 but was still writing his Sunday "On Language" column in the Times magazine section when he died.