With the death of Bill Safire I lost one of my guiding lights, a man whose love of language and words was inspirational, prompting me to write several articles on language, slang and jargon.
Since I first encountered him in his 1968 book "The New Language of Politics" I've reveled in all he has written, considering him a national treasure akin to Niagara Falls and the White House even though our politics were 180° apart (except on Clinton and abortion).
From 1973-1979 I enjoyed reading his Op Ed pieces except those where his irrational devotion to Nixon and Agnew induced nausea, but from 1979 to this month I loved reading his views "on language."
The one time I was able to sit down with him and chat (I usually communicated with him via his wonderful research assistants) I found him to be witty, humble and most assuredly human.
What a loss to literature, writers and readers; I hope the New York Times has the good sense not to try to replace him; it would be impossible.
Bye Bill, you've guided me more than once through sticky thickets (a malapropism I think he might like).