Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert

Over the past, oh, year (and longer than that really) there is probably nothing I have done more then watch MSNBC. The primaries, the election news, every debate, every primary night. And there was Tim Russert. We lost Tim Russert today, and I say "we" not because I knew Tim, but because the collective "we" as a country lost an irreplaceable voice today.

I don't remember a death of somebody famous touching me so much as Tim's death. Partly because it was so stunning in its suddenness and unexpectedness, but partly because it had become second nature watching him, all the time, as I have the past year. Meet The Press, Morning Joe, NBC Nightly News, The Tim Russert Show, the weekly MSNBC primary nights where Tim was a dominant and invaluable presence. I have become so invested in this election and this Democratic primary, and watching Tim was an almost daily ritual.

A lot of people may have watched Tim Russert, but I don't think anyone truly new how large of an impact he had on this country. It is not an exaggeration or hyperbole to say that if you were a politician, and you could not pass the Russert Test, if you could not make it through a one-hour grilling on Meet The Press, you had little future in national politics, much less any chance of being President. There has been a lot of controversy about the "vetters" Barack Obama has tapped to lead his search for a Vice President. Tim Russert was America's vetter. And there was nobody better at holding those in power accountable, and there was nobody better at asking the tough, but always fair, question.

It seems too cruel that now that the Democratic Primary is over, and one of the most important Presidential elections in a generation is about to take place, Tim Russert won't be here to see it, to vet it for us, to comment on it.

Tim was a lawyer, a journalist, a former political operative. A man who loved his hometown of Buffalo and his love of city matched by his love of the Buffalo Bills. And, of course, the love of his family, both his wife and son, and his extended NBC News family. America has lost one of its most important voices today, and only in the weeks and months ahead, when we look to Meet the Press to vet the next generation of political leaders, will we truly understand just what a loss to the country this is.

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