Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Goodbye to the Maven’s Maven.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | October 2, 2009

Posted by Cliff Tuttle (c)2009

It would not be proper to fail to mark the passing of William Safire. Among the many famous people who left this earth in 2009, he was arguably the smartest.

What a career! Presidential speechwriter. New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner. Author of fiction, non-fiction and tireless disector of our language. He could be pithy and funny at the same time.

Among his many books was a little-remembered novel published in 2000 called “Scandalmonger.” In it he drew word portraits of Jefferson, Hamilton and their contemporaries that were so vivid it seems as though he had known them, just as he had known presidents and other leaders of our age.

He was a contradiction that worked. Politically partisan but brutally frank, even when it hurt his own espoused causes. Scholarly but endlessly entertaining. Traditional but up-to-the-minute, even trendy. Safire could surprise you by knowing things you wouldn’t expect a Nixon Republican to know. He was endlessly curious and thoroughly analytical. And he wasn’t afraid to make very specific predictions and own up when he was wrong.

When he retired from the New York Times panel of Op Ed contributers, the paper added David Brooks as its nominal conservative. I say “added”, because William Safire could never be replaced. Never.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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