Today Tim Russert passed away. I really can not even explain why this is having such an oddly strange effect on my brain right now. I did not know him, he was not like a friend of the family or anything but in some journalistic way he had a presence that connected to his viewers and it is really making me sad that he will never be able to share that with the world again.
When Matt and I lived in Springfield, and were not constantly working on the house, we would take as many weekends as possible all to ourselves. Most Saturday and Sunday mornings consisted of getting up at about nine and drinking coffee while we talked about life and the world in general until about mid day. We always drank too much coffee and ate breakfast far too late because we were so engrossed in our conversations or watching the TV on in the background.
Fodder for our conversations when we did not just come up with our own random topics generally had to do with what was happening on TV. On the weekend mornings that was either one of two things -- infomercials or Meet the Press.
One of our biggest loves is to watch completely mindless infomercials. Ron Popeil and Chef Tony just have a way of convincing a person that chicken really can cook in 5 minutes and that knives that sharp should have been used to cut drywall all along. We would delight in the Magic Bullet and the “wow, this is one good smoothie!” faces on the “non-paid actors but real people”. You mention a product seen on TV I can tell you all about it. But I don’t own a single one of them, it was all just for laughs when the mood needed lightening.
The reason we needed a mood lifter was due to our other weekend morning love of watching and commenting on Meet the Press. By now, those of you who know me can pretty much attest to the fact that although I am no dummy when it comes to things like politics, I do not spend most of my time relishing the daily battle of debate between candidates or even what the politicos of our country are doing in their daily lives in non-election years. I know it, I get it, I just prefer not to discuss it most of the time. Sunday mornings in the comfort of my own living room with Matt however was an entirely different story.
The familiar music would start and as soon as I heard Tim Russert’s completely monotone yet surprisingly enthusiastic, almost guttural excitement for who was on that week my adrenaline began to rush just a little. He would introduce every show with exactly the same level of vigor because no matter who was on he knew this was going to get good and he never let us down. Tim would lay into each guest and no matter who it was they better have an extremely eloquent, straightforward and honest response to his question or he would not let up until he broke the guest. His questions were always pointed, poignant and sometimes tough to take but he asked them with a straight face and unrelenting love for drawing out an answer.
There was nothing more satisfying than watching a politician visually crack just because a man did nothing more than ask a boat load of questions in an unyielding, yet calm, manner. Emotions did not register on his face, he was straight shooting news anchor all the time; unless Tom Brokaw was in a wiley mood, then all bets were off as Tim would actually burst out laughing and we all got the chance to see the heart and soul behind the steely persona. He would stay up for forty eight straight hours during an election but still never miss a beat. He was one hell of a good journalist.
As a person who has always had a love for pushing limits I respected, admired and truly enjoyed watching Tim Russert work.
This Sunday morning will be time to find something new. Goodbye Tim. We will all miss your candor and dedicated love for the political game.