Prolific author, columnist, and speechwriter William Safire passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer.
His career began as a speechwriter for Richard Nixon, and he earned a Pulitzer Prize for his political commentary. During his long career, Safire (pictured via Fred R. Conrad) wrote both fiction and nonfiction, including the novel “Full Disclosure” and the Nixon-era memoir, “Before the Fall.” In addition to these books, he wrote political columns and the popular “On Language” column for the NY Times–a handy guide for writers over the years.
Here’s a passage from his September 11th “On Language” column, a look at writerly abuse of the phrase, ‘bend the curve‘: “the meaning of the phrase bending the curve is switching from ‘bend that awful, upward-curving line down before we can’t afford an aspirin’ to ‘bend that line up down quick, before we all head for the bread line!’ This leads to metaphoric confusion. It’s what happens when you fall in love with full-color graphs to explain to the screen-entranced set what’s happening and scorn plain words.”