Bill Safire, to use the phrase he coined, was anything but a "nattering nabob of negativity," writes his New York Times "colleague in columny" Maureen Dowd. The former Nixon speechwriter—who once told Dowd he had been frozen out by the Times' liberal writers until he saved a drowning child at a party—was always gracious, Dowd recalls, who only ever chastised her on a point of language despite their strongly opposed views on the Iraq war.
"He had none of the vile and vitriol of today’s howling pack of conservative pundits: Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter and Malkin," Dowd writes. She once spotted her colleague having lunch with a former Carter administration official who lost his job after Safire exposed irregular banking practices in a Pulitzer Prize-winning column. “Only hit people when they’re up," Safire told her.