At least as famous for his punditry as his politics, he wrote op-ed and language columns for the New York Times for over 30 years. In his affectionate obit, veteran Timesman Robert D. McFadden demonstrated how Safire could combine the politically pugilistic and philological:
Mr. Safire called Hillary Clinton a “congenital liar” in print. Mrs. Clinton said she was offended only for her mother’s sake. But a White House aide said that Bill Clinton, “if he were not president, would have delivered a more forceful response on the bridge of Mr. Safire’s nose.”
Mr. Safire was delighted, especially with the proper use of the conditional.