WASHINGTON — William Safire, the Nixon speechwriter-turned-New York Times political columnist, usually sparred with Beltway power players. But in 2001 the wily wordsmith set his sights on one of the Jewish community’s major machers.
In a March column that year, Safire criticized the Anti-Defamation League (and the Ehud Barak government) for being part of the successful effort to win a pardon for fugitive businessman Marc Rich from President Bill Clinton. He called for Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, to resign “to demonstrate that ethical blindness has consequences.”
Foxman called Safire, and the conversation produced a memorable lead.
“You never made a mistake in your life?’’ an angry Foxman shouted over the phone. “What about when you worked for that anti-Semite Nixon?’’