Tim Russert was a Sunday given in many, many households across America. His passing was without apparent warning and felt by many people (of all political stripes). The initial cause of death was a heart attack, but as he just arrived on a flight from Italy in the hours before his death, it may well have been an embolism (not unlike the reported cause of death of NBC correspondent David Bloom in 2003).
Mr. Russert gave even-handed treatment to all in his MEET THE PRESS studios, as the only people who were ever skunked in his presence were those who were ill-prepared to defend their own words, always shown by Mr. Russert up on the screen for the viewers at home.
One of the most memorable exchanges on MTP was between Mr. Russert and Political Strategist James Carville. I don't know if there is a clip available, so please excuse me as I tell this from memory:
It was during the the investigation of Judge Kenneth Starr, Special Prosecutor named to investigate the goings-on of President Bill Clinton (which eventually led to the President's impeachment). Mr. Carville was railing against Judge Starr and the entire investigation, complaining that nearly everyone in the Clinton Administration had been subpoenaed. Everyone, that is, except Mr. Carville.
In his signature, Louisiana cadence, Mr. Carville was becoming livid.
"Why hasn't Ken Starr subpoenaed me? Why does everyone else get a subpoena but me?"
A quick smile came across Mr. Russerts face. Then, in an almost dead pan, Mr. Russert asked: "Mr. Carville, are you suggesting that you have subpoena envy? "
That had to be the first time I ever saw James Carville speechless. He blustered and fumbled over the next words, trying hard not to laugh, but soon both were doubled-over in hysteria.
Learning of Mr. Russert's death at such a young age of 58 will impact many this Father's Day. I know well there are others who have lost their father at a younger age (and some who never knew their father), and for them I regret that I have no words to offer. For others, who always seem to be too busy to visit, they may make the effort this weekend, or at least spend more than a few extra minutes on the phone to their father.
I am blessed to be able to speak to my father regularly, 3-4x each week. It is not something I take lightly. I don't normally enjoy celebrations of Father's Day for myself (not unlike my father), but I can understand why people enjoy remembering their dads, at least on the second Sunday of June.
I raise a toast to my father, and extend a wish to all dads a great day (even if they'd rather not celebrate it). For those who have lost their father, know that you are the product of his effort (however great or small), and know that he would be proud of you for being who you are.
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