14 June 2008

Tim Russert

I was stunned yesterday when I read the news that NBC newsman Tim Russert had died suddenly. Last night and much of this morning's news coverage has been about the 58-year-old man's life, devotion to family (particularly his dad), and his love of politics.

There are people on both sides whom I have heard over the years claim that Russert leans one way or another. Yes, it seemed that way at time, depending on your political perspective. But to a political junkie like myself, a policy wonk, when you really drilled down into the way Tim Russert covered a story, he was all about getting to the heart of the matter.

Incredibly popular among his colleagues, generally respected by politicos, he was even more loved by viewers. Allegedly while waiting for a John McCain appearance during the campaign this year in New Hampshire, Russert was mobbed by people attending a rally. They wanted to say hi, shake his hand, or have their picture taken with him.

He was smart, but he wasn't flashy. He was a deep-thinker, but he wasn't full of himself. He could ask the most penetrating questions of some of the most powerful people on the planet without being condescending or arrogant.

He was proud of his blue collar roots in Buffalo, N.Y., where so many other TV types tend to ignore theirs, or re-invent their past. He was unashamed of his love for his dad. He wrote two best-selling books about their relationship.

He was everyman.

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