Tim Russert died on Friday. I never met the guy, but I sure was familiar with his work.
I thought he personified what was wrong with the political process, and I said so. It would be hypocritical now for me to say he was a great man, because I don't think he was. Sometimes I felt the politician he was crossing was well-equipped to speak honestly for himself, and I wanted to hear what he or she had to say, and Russert interfered. It came up in his interview this spring with Ron Paul, who actually had some new ideas that I felt deserved airing, but he couldn't get much of that past Russert, who applied his inside-the-Beltway logic. I noticed he was a lot harder on outsiders. And he was always easy when interviewing members of his profession, who he let speak without interruption, without interrogation. An odd exception, I thought -- it would be nice if they took as much care with their own consistency as they do with the people they interview
Of course his death is a sad thing, for everyone. And I did enjoy Russert enough to listen every Sunday to Meet The Press. Through the magic of podcasting, I never had to miss one. And there's a chance that this ultimate insider would have discovered the power of the rest of us, not only in the aggregate, but as individuals as well. I think they pay lip service to it, and keep it far away and abstract, content to live with their view of the world, as revolving around them, which of course in some ways, it does.
The most poignant eulogy for me came from Bob Schieffer, longtime host of Face the Nation (CBS), who was clear up front, Russert was a competitor, and both of them took the competition seriously. He said that he and Russert were also friends. This is what I want for us in the blogosphere and we don't have it. Competition here is so cutthroat, so personal, that it's impossible to have a relaxed conversation, to learn from people who compete. It would be nice if we could get to that place, if Schieffer wasn't exaggerating for effect, marking the sadness that comes with anyone's passing, even someone whose success you envy.
Update #1: Arianna apparently sees it the same way. :-)
Update #2: Another recent blow to the power of insider's in DC -- Obama moved DNC operations to Chicago. It almost went unnoticed on the talk show circuit, but it's a hugely important development.