Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion columnist William Safire died Sunday at age 79.
The News Tribune carried his New York Times opinion column for many years (our online archives don’t go back far enough for me to figure out when we started running it, but it was before my time).
As the person who gives the columns a first read before they go in the paper, I occasionally interact with columnists if I have a question or a correction. I recall only one time having to e-mail Safire with a suggested correction. He promptly replied, graciously thanked me and quickly moved a correction to his column over the wire.
Here’s a memorable column of his that we ran in January 2005, shortly before he retired from writing his regular political opinion column.
Character defines people and nations
WASHINGTON – What’s the secret to long-run success?
For a person, it’s useful to have the smarts, look great, be lucky and exude charisma. All that is not enough.
For a political party, it helps to have good organization, articulate candidates and pollsters to discern a popular set of issues. Not enough.
For a nation, success can seem assured by natural resources, free enterprise, a culture of compassion and a free press. It can still go under. Read more »