George W. Bush awarded Safire the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006.
The conservative New York Times columnist, Nixon speechwriter and college dropout lost a battle with pancreatic cancer Sunday. In his final opinion column for The Times, Safire wrote about mortality and his intention to reinvent himself at 75.
Safire wrote two columns for the paper—one on politics and the other on language. His final political column was penned in 2005, but his most recent On Language essay was published just this month, on Sept. 11. —PS
The New York Times:
He was a college dropout and proud of it, a public relations go-getter who set up the famous Nixon-Khrushchev “kitchen debate” in Moscow, and a White House wordsmith in the tumultuous era of war in Vietnam, Nixon’s visit to China and the gathering storm of the Watergate scandal that drove the president from office.
Then, from 1973 to 2005, Mr. Safire wrote his twice weekly “Essay” for the Op-Ed Page of The Times, a forceful conservative voice in the liberal chorus. Unlike most Washington columnists who offer judgments with Olympian detachment, Mr. Safire was a pugnacious contrarian who did much of his own reporting, called people liars in print and laced his opinions with outrageous wordplay.