william safire quotes



What do you call a co-worker these days? Neither teammate nor confederate will do, and partner is too legalistic. The answer brought from academia to the political world by Henry Kissinger and now bandied in the boardroom is colleague. It has a nice upper-egalitarian feel, related to the good fellowship of collegial.


Today, war of necessity is used by critics of military action to describe unavoidable response to an attack like that on Pearl Harbor that led to our prompt, official declaration of war, while they characterize as unwise wars of choice the wars in Korea, Vietnam and the current war in Iraq.


The wonderful thing about being a New York Times columnist is that it's like a Supreme Court appointment - they're stuck with you for a long time.


The noun phrase straw man, now used as a compound adjective as in 'straw-man device, technique or issue,' was popularized in American culture by 'The Wizard of Oz.'


Sometimes I know the meaning of a word but am tired of it and feel the need for an unfamiliar, especially precise or poetic term, perhaps one with a nuance that flatters my readership's exquisite sensitivity.


One challenge to the arts in America is the need to make the arts, especially the classic masterpieces, accessible and relevant to today's audience.


Do not be taken in by 'insiderisms.' Fledgling columnists, eager to impress readers with their grasp of journalistic jargon, are drawn to such arcane spellings as 'lede.' Where they lede, do not follow.


Stop worrying about the 'dumbing down' of our language by bloggers, tweeters, cableheads and MSM thumbsuckers engaged in a 'race to the bottom' of the page by little minds confined to little words.


Never look for the story in the 'lede.' Reporters are required to put what's happened up top, but the practiced pundit places a nugget of news, even a startling insight, halfway down the column, directed at the politiscenti. When pressed for time, the savvy reader starts there.


When infuriated by an outrageous column, do not be suckered into responding with an abusive e-mail. Pundits so targeted thumb through these red-faced electronic missives with delight, saying 'Hah! Got to 'em.'




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