I still can't even wrap my brain around the fact that he is gone. Loosing the most influential political journalist of the last 20 years at a time of great political uncertainty just can't be. This was my first thoughts on his passing. It became apparent throughout the next couple of hours that we had lost far more than a journalist. Anyone who had watched Meet the Press at least semi-religiously since his assumption of the chair in 1991, got the feeling that Tim Russert was a people's person and a great guy. No one and myself included could have seen the true depth of this man from the vantage point of our television sets. As the night grew darker on Friday, the reports of Russert's genuine care for people outnumbered reports of his acumen as a broadcasting institution by the hundreds. People flooded the airwaves from all areas of politics to tell the stories of Russert the family man, the caring friend, and the man who cared for their own families in almost a supernatural way. He was always there as the helping hand in every area of life and career for his colleagues. We, as outsiders, saw him as both gregarious personally and concise professionally. The extent the viewing public saw his character wasn't even close to the real thing. How a man was able to put so much time into his family, his profession, and his friends is unfathomable and enviable.
Tim Russert is one of those rare unique individuals that when he passes it causes you to step back and examine your own life. I spent the majority of yesterday pondering the comments of the people who were close to him. I thought about how he maximized every day and showed such a concern for others. He put the up most effort into his family, his religion, and his passions. Tim Russert, to me, is the ideal American. I would like to emulate his patriotism and his set of values. If we all could invest a little more into others' lives and be a tad more knowledgeable on the issues that face us as Americans, I believe the country would be much improved. I think Barack Obama summarized my sentiments most when, in his statement yesterday he said, "And I hope that even though Tim is irreplaceable, that the standard he has set in his professional life and family life are standards we all carry with us in our own lives." Barack, that would be an America for Change indeed.
The readers of this blog and myself as sports fans especially relate to Tim Russert the sports fan. He embodied every meaning of the word "fanatic" for the Buffalo Bills and was a enthusiastic season ticket holder for the Nationals when Washington finally received a professional baseball franchise once again. He would travel to big time sporting events around the country most often with his son, Luke. So many yesterday and today and in the coming weeks will recount how they often shared a ballgame and a beer with Russert. For most, that experience was more than just a game, it was a building block of friendship that Russert had remarkably formed with so many. Hearing the statement released yesterday by the Buffalo Bills, I realized how much Tim represented his hometown NFL team. I hope when I see the blue and red on Sundays in the fall from now on I will always be reminded of Tim Russert's story. "Go Bills!"
The road to the Presidential election in November will be rockier now and more clouded just simply because of his absence. He loved the prospects of this upcoming election and we loved his analysis of it. Americans can only hope that someone will be there to be both tough and fair in their political explorations, but they will never be Tim Russert. The qualities that John McCain highlighted in his statement yesterday were his ability to be tough and fair and that he loved his country. These are all the things that made him a great journalist but also a great person. Tim Russert may be gone, but his career and the lessons we can learn from his life, will never leave my heart.