Why in the world would anybody put chains on me?
I've paid my dues to make it
Everybody wants me to be what they want me to be
I'm not happy when I try to fake it.
That's why I'm easy
I'm easy like Sunday morning
That's why I'm easy
I'm easy like Sunday morning
Being somewhat of a political junkie watching the Sunday morning talk shows has become what you might call a part and parcel of my life over the past ten years or so. There’s been so much shit going on in the world that sometimes it’s hard to put in all in perspective and even though I consider myself pretty well informed when it comes to the news of the day sometimes you need people to ask the right questions to get to the bottom of things. Tim Russert was my guy when it came to do that.
Now, suddenly he’s gone and there’s a hole in my Sunday morning between 10:30 and 11:30 EST that’s going to be hard to fill.
I don’t know what it was about him. He wasn’t what you would call controversial and unlike many of the other talking heads and pundits that litter the airwaves, spewing venom and taking sides. Mr. Russert seemed to be above all of that. During his sixteen year stint as moderator of Meet the Press, Mr. Russert could glare down the slickest of politicians when they were trying dodge his questions, and he always did his homework and knew what follow up questions to ask. But then, at the end of each show, he’d look at the camera and smile with what looked like a sense of childhood amazement at just how lucky he’d been to be there in the first place. He looked and acted like a guy you’d like to belt a few down with after work, and there’d be no hard feelings the next day based on where the conversation had strayed. I guess, judging by the testimonials pouring in from his competitors and folks he’d interviewed over the years, he’d be what’s known in the industry as a “pro’s pro”.
Tim Russert was born in Buffalo, New York in 1950. His dad, “Big Russ,” worked two full time jobs. One was as a garbage man (in today’s world that’s known as a “sanitation engineer”) and for the other he drove a newspaper delivery truck. (Can you get more blue collar than that?) After getting his law degree Tim found himself drawn towards politics and at the tender age of twenty seven found himself in the role as chief of staff for then New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. After that he moved on the to governors office where he was a counselor for then New York Governor Mario Cuomo.
NBC lured him away in 1984 and he started working from their Washington Bureau. Within a year he scored a major coup when he landed Pope John Paul II for his first interview on American television. By the time 1991 arrived Russert’s credentials were well established and he was named moderator of Meet the Press. The show, orignally broadcast for a half an hour was extended to an hour long format and Russert hosted it until his death.
The 2000 US Presidential Election seems so long ago and with all the computers and exit polls and networks tripping over themselves with high tech wizardry I can still recall a smiling Russert sitting there with his handheld erasable whiteboard with only one word written on it three times. That word was “Florida” and today that whiteboard has been encased in either the Smithsonian or the Journalist Hall of Fame.
During his lifetime Russert was awarded an astounding forty eight honorary doctorates and degrees from various institutions from around the country and what follows is just a partial list of the awards he received for journalistic excellence.
Not bad for a kid from Buffalo…
Russert also authored two best selling books. The first one was called Big Russ and Me” and is about the values that were instilled in him by his own father. The second, called Wisdom of Our Fathers was in response to all of the letters he received from folks who had read his first book and related their own personal stories of fatherhood and growing up.
Yesterday, just two day before Fathers Day, Tim Russert died suddenly from a heart attack in his office in Washington D.C . He was 58 years old. He had just returned with his family from a trip to Italy in celebration of his son’s graduation from Boston College. He’s survived by his wife of 25 years, his son Luke and his dad, “Big Russ .
I wanna be high, so high
I wanna be free to know
the things I do are right
I wanna be free
As I write this, I’m picturing Tim sitting behind a desk somewhere up in heaven with a big old goofy smile plastered across his face getting ready to interview God.
Some stuff lifted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Russert. Other stuff taken from memory and yet other stuff is just personal observations. Selected lyrics lifted from the Lionel Ritchie song called “Easy”.