Monday, September 28, 2009

Safire in Hell

Today is Monday, 28 September 2009.

William Safire, speechwriter to Richard M. Nixon, is dead at 79.

Safire was the man who wrote, for the disgraced bribe-taker Spiro Agnew, such immortal phrases as “nattering nabobs of negativism” and “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history“, then later marketed himself as the Guardian of All Which Is Sacred and Holy in Language.

Safire defended Nixon during Watergate. Safire was taken aback to discover that he had been secretly taped. Safire avidly supported secretly taping others.

I was once asked if I, as one passionately committed to language, read Safire’s language column in The New York Times. “No, I needn’t read Herr Goebbels to know his values. For Herr Goebbels, language is a club with which to beat the world into submission”.

Unsatisfied with merely assisting Nixon to slaughter millions in Indochina, Safire assisted W. Bush in the latter’s attempt to conquer Iraq, and thus joined hands in the slaughter of a few million more.

I imagine Safire now, in a lower circle of hell, seated for eternity in a small room, with nothing but an uncomfortable wooden chair, listening forever to a dance mix of his speeches for Spiro Agnew.


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