Today is Sunday and soon Meet the Press will be on with Brian Williams filling in for Tim Russert. I have been watching Meet the Press regularly since Russert took over in 1991 and you could say religiously for the past 10 years. In fact, we do a family list each year of our favorite books, shows, music, etc... and Meet the Press has made my list every time.
This puts me into the category of a political junkie, but when it comes to political television, Meet the Press has been my only fix. I've rarely watched other political shows and I don't know if I've ever felt I was missing anything.
Though thousands of words have been written about Tim Russert's death, I am compelled to add a few of my own. Tim was the best political analyst, reporter, and interviewer I have ever seen. His words were always valuable, well-reasoned, and full of unique insight into the world of politics. When The Today Show would feature a political discussion, I would be largely oblivious until I heard, "Tim Russert joins us from..." That's when I knew it was time to pay attention.
More important that his pure skills were two things: his class and his joy. Tim treated everyone at his table with respect, a lesson in old-fashioned hospitality that unfortunately stands out. No one received a free pass, but no one was treated unfairly either. It was clear that he valued his guests and believed that more often than not, they were determined to do what was best for the country. I was always struck by how Russert ended nearly every interview with a presidential candidate: "Thank you for sharing your views. Stay safe on the campaign trail." Such class.
His love for politics was so clear, as was the joy it brought him. His enthusiasm was infectious. You got the feeling at the end of each week that he wished he could continue the conversation for another hour and absolutely could not wait for the next show. He never took for granted that he was paid so well to do what he'd loved so much. A life filled with full appreciation for the blessings all around you is a truly great life.
Of course, his love of his family, especially his son Luke, and his faith stood out as well. When else has faith been mentioned so much when someone other than a religious leader passes away? I wonder if people would say the same about me. The best thing a death can offer those who are left behind is the chance to reexamine your own life with a fresh perspective. Don't miss Peggy Noonan's thoughts on that very subject.
The simplest thing I can say about Tim Russert is that Meet the Press was the only political show I would consider sharing with Lori and particularly my son Ben. We watched many interviews and debates together as a family during this amazing presidential election. I'm very protective of Ben and Tim was the only person I trusted to give a fair, respectful, patriotic, and passionate introduction to politics. I'm just sad that the time was so short.
Sundays will never be the same in our house. God bless you Tim.