Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, R.I.P.

By Mitchell

It seems fitting somehow that Tim Russert died on Friday the 13th, a day so long associated with bad news. Tim Russert was an old school politician - big, gregarious, friendly - and he practiced old school politics. A liberal he might have been, but a principled one; and he seldom let that show on the air. (He was, after all, one of the first to take Rush Limbaugh seriously at a time when most in the MSM thought of him more as a freak show.) Russert seemed to appreciate that politics was at heart a good story, one that deserved a good storyteller. And that he was.

I'm most struck in reading the obituaries of Russert at how consistent they are. From both sides of the aisle, from as many media outlets as there are, all of them remark on the same things; his humility, his humor, his decency. Rush called him "a regular guy," and you're apt to hear that kind of description everywhere. No conspiracy could possibly result in that uniform an opinion in so short a time.

I particularly appreciate the fact that while politics was his passion in life (along with his family, baseball and the Buffalo Bills), he never let it get in the way of what was truly important. The sheer joy of it all overrode everything else; it was simply too much fun to spoil it with personal invective. In an era where politics is so terribly nasty (are you listening, some of you bloggers?), Tim Russert was the kind of guy who could make you think it was still worth, if only they were all like him.

And, for someone who did not know him, perhaps that is the highest compliment one can pay, that Tim Russert did his best to redeem a profession that has become irredeemable. If he failed in that, it can hardly be held against him.

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