William Safire

William Safire deat at 79

Today is a sad day for many conservatives, William Safire has died today at age 79 after a bout with cancer. Safire is one of the great conservative voices that wrote for the New York Times (David Brooks is no where even close). Not only was Safire a heck of a writer and conservative voice, he also worked as a speech-writer for the Nixon White House, including Agnew’s famous “nattering nabobs of negativism” directed at the vast left-wing conspiracy lined up against the Viet Nam war.

Next to William Buckley I can’t really think of a more elegant and strident defender of conservatism beside Safire. Safire was an ardent supporter of small, limited government and the idea that ultimately we were accountable for our own actions and that government’s purpose never was to ensure that we all live perfectly happy lives.

Safire was also famous for his work on etymology, or tracing words and phrases back to their origins, including phrases like “under the bus” and “strawman”. In some ways Safire was a libertarian and was not afraid to go after conservatives when warranted. In fact he attacked Republicans and President Bush after 9/11 for the Patriot Act and the way in which they rounded up suspects. Keep in mind that Safire, born into a Jewish family, was a staunch supporter of Israel. Despite this strong support for Israel and his support for the Iraq war, it was pretty clear he disagreed with Bush on some things, including the treatment of prisoners in Gitmo.

Rest in peace Mr. Safire, say hi to Mr. Buckley for me, both of your voices will be missed.