William Safire

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I'm willing to zap conservatives when they do things that are not libertarian. I was the first to really go after George W. on his treatment of prisoners.

William Lewis Safire (17 December 192927 September 2009) was an American author, columnist, journalist, presidential speechwriter, and language expert.



Letter to H. R. Haldeman

sombre memo to President Nixon's Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman. Its contents: a contingency plan, in the form of a speech to be read out by Nixon should astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become stranded on the Moon, never to return, followed by some brief instructions relating to its broadcast. The memo was never needed. (18 July 1969)
Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.
In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.
In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
Others will follow and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.
For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.
PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT: The president should telephone each of the widows-to-be.
AFTER THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT, at the point when NASA ends communications with the men: A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to "the deepest of the deep," concluding with the Lord's Prayer.
And so tonight — to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans — I ask for your support.
Speech written for Richard Nixon (3 November 1969).
  • In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism.
    • Speech written by Safire for Spiro Agnew (11 September 1970).
  • Remember to never split an infinitive.
    The passive voice should never be used.
    Do not put statements in the negative form.
    Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
    Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
    If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
    A writer must not shift your point of view.
    And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
    Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
    Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
    If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.
    Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
    Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
    If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
    Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
    Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
    Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
    Always pick on the correct idiom.
    The adverb always follows the verb.
    Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.
    • "Rules for Writers" in On Language (1980).
  • Americans of all persuasions are coming to the sad realization that our First Lady – a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many of her generation – is a congenital liar.
  • Decide on some imperfect Somebody and you will win, because the truest truism in politics is: You can’t beat Somebody with Nobody.
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