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Hating on William Safire!

Hoisted from comments, apropos of and

Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Isn't it artful of Safire to back up his portrayal of the demonstrators with a long quote from a Nixon speech he wrote himself? A shifty fellow worthy of Nixon, and perhaps a role model for either David Brooks or Tucker Carlson, Safire's deceptiveness is only slightly mitigated by his late opposition to expanded presidential prerogative. Posted by: Altoid | August 16, 2007 at 07:24 AM

Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: I emjoyed Safire toward the end of his stint at the NYT. There was always at least one venomous little lie per column, often slipped in unobtrusively as an aside in a dependent clause. Something like " ... as the Democrats who tried to betray Nixon's peace efforts understood". Spotting the lie became a little puzzle, like the crossword. If he were still writing the column, I'd have to forego the amusement, since I refuse to contribute a farthing to Friedman or Brooks. Rich and Krugman can't compensate. Posted by: Roger Bigod | August 15, 2007 at 09:35 PM

Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: It's very d*mning of the elite MSM that Fallows, who's done some good work, would think that Bush's speechwriter could be trusted. Posted by: Barry | August 16, 2007 at 04:50 AM

As I said, William Safire is very good at this business. You have to keep your hand on your wallet all the time

It starts, I suppose, with Walter Lippman. In 1968, Lippman wrote--in the kind of pointless contrarianism that makes me check my wallet every time I read something by Michael Kinsley--that he saw "a maturer, mellower man who was no longer clawing his way to the top." (David Greenberg's Nixon's Shadow immediately opposes this with a quote from the much wiser and more thoughtful Art Buchwald, quoting "Deep Toes": "there is no new Nixon and there never was... It was the old Nixon with makeup on.") This became the consensus narrative of the Very Serious Bipartisan People in Washington--with only the dirty hippies and the Washington Post metro reporters outside the charmed circle. Safire then writes Before the Fall to explain why this new Nixon disappeared--why the actual president Nixon was the same vicious bastard he had always been. Safire's narrative--that this, too, was ultimately the fault of the hippies--was false. But it was convenient because it allowed the Very Serious People to pretend that they hadn't taken a dive for Tricky Dick.

Dan Gross caught this narrative making yet another appearance last year:

Daniel Gross: June 11, 2006 - June 17, 2006 Archives: DEFEAT FOR AMERICA?: It wouldn't be a complete week without at least a few lines of shockingly stupid analysis from the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the kind of sentence (or sentences) that make you spit your coffee onto the desk and then launch into a paroxysm of sustained laughter. Thank you, Michael Barone, for making my week complete. He writes, in a piece about Vietnam, Watergate and Karl Rove.

Vietnam and Watergate were arguably triumphs for honest reporting. But they were also defeats for America -- and for millions of freedom-loving people in the world. They ushered in an era when the political opposition and much of the press have sought not just to defeat administrations but to delegitimize them. The pursuit of Karl Rove by the left and the press has been just the latest episode in the attempted criminalization of political differences. Is there any hope that it might turn out to be the last?

Read it again. Barone apparently believes Watergate was a defeat for America -- and for millions of freedom-loving people in the world.