William Safire and the Power of Language
May 9, 2014
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN if the President of the United States survived an assassination attempt (not by Claudia Barry, my heroine in The Tourist Killer and The Presidents Club) only to emerge from the hospital blind?
No hope of regaining his eyesight.
Would that mean he had lost his vision? [One of many clever double entendres from Safire.]
William Safire, the late New York Times columnist, addressed the issue of an impaired president in his book, Full Disclosure. Surprisingly, the twenty-fifth amendment addressed this issue in the constitution. Fortunately for Safire’s plot, but not for the nation, the authors of the addendum left the issue blurred — a bit out of focus.
Since completing Safire’s book on presidential politics, I’ve begun reading one of several collections of his columns from the New York Times Sunday Magazine, “On Language.”
Take My Word for It was published in 1986 as a follow-up to its 1980 precursor, eponymously titled, On Language. Collections of essays are a favorite for me as it fits in with the demands of my reading time and offers a refreshing diversion.
Today’s reading includes this excerpt from Safire:
“My favorite calumniating adjective is revolving, a word with a spin on it. When asked why he called someone ‘a revolving S.O.B.,’ Harry Truman supposedly replied, ‘He’s an S.O.B. any way you look at him.’”
Word Origins and Their Romantic Stories is another preferred reference as well as an additional satisfaction for my hunger for a better understanding of words, their usage, and their etymology.
Watch for my articles on each of the above-named books.
Watch for them in the future, because as Criswell said so famously in Plan 9 from Outer Space, “We are all interested in the future for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.”
Please click the book cover image to read more about FCEtier and his novels.