As I'm sure you are, I am shocked that Tim Russert passed away from a heart attack today.
I still remember watching Russert and Tom Brokaw crunching the numbers on the night of the 2000 and 2004 elections. He was at once a keen observer and analyst and also a family man - an Irish Catholic fan of the Buffalo Bills who wasn't afraid of who he was.
Here's a piece from Russert regarding campaign attacks and smears, published on MSNBC.com just hours before his death. Joe Biden and Lindsay Graham were going to appear on Meet the Press this weekend; I'd be shocked if they didn't replace that with a special tribute to Russert.
In a way, Russert's death reminds me of FDR's death from a brain hemorrhage in 1945. Both were titans in their respective fields: Russert in journalism, Roosevelt in politics. Both died suddenly during extroardinary times: FDR during World War II, Russert during an historic campaign season. And of course, both left such enormous shoes to fill. Harry Truman did as good a job as he could have (though he did make mistakes); I wish the best to whomever is chosen as the new host of Meet the Press.
I’ve known Tim Russert since I first spoke at the convention in 2004. He’s somebody who, over time, I came to consider not only a journalist but a friend. There wasn’t a better interviewer in TV, not a more thoughtful analyst of our politics, and he was also one of the finest men I knew. Somebody who cared about America, cared about the issues, cared about family. I am grief-stricken with the loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. And I hope that, even though Tim is irreplaceable, that the standard that he set in his professional life and his family life are standards that we all carry with us in our own lives.