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MISSING TIM RUSSERT / THE EMPTY CHAIR

October 27, 2008 / Dave Cunningham

 

Only a week to go and the race will be over.  We will have a new President-elect and an official lame-duck president.  The poll takers will have to give up the spotlight on the evening news.  We won’t be inundated by nasty political ads about the inevitable calamity if someone’s opponent is elected instead of them.  There will be some discussion about how sad it is that half of Americans didn’t vote, particularly the young people who had all but assured Obama’s election.  The news will shift to the next spectacle, whatever that might be.  And I will miss it all.
 
I will miss the speeches, the policy papers, and the endorsements.  I will miss the politics of “silly season” as Barack referred to them.  Remember all the candidates at the beginning? Remember the debates, Hillary, Bill, Mitt, Rudy, Who was up, Who was down, The $400 haircut.  Reverend Wright, Obama’s “race” speech, the “guns and religion” mis-speak, the McCain comeback, Sarah Palin, the $150,000 wardrobe?  I loved it all, even when I knew it was a complete waste of time and air.
 
But I will not miss missing Tim Russert.   It was virtually impossible for me and other political junkies to watch and listen to political TV roundtables in the past weeks without perceiving an empty chair on the screen.  Russert’s absence from the discussion was almost palpable.  His enthusiasm and happy banter were gone.  No matter how interesting the discussion or the personalities on the screen, you couldn’t help but believe that they were all waiting for Tim to chime in with a comment, anecdote or humorous quip.  His dry-board will be a part of news media lore for years to come.

 

From the beginning of the presidential campaign two years ago, Tim Russert loved the process.   He even said so on several occasions.  When Tim was going to be in the discussion, I sat forward in my seat, anxiously awaiting his insight because I knew it would be thought provoking.  I loved to see him laugh.  That was one of the best parts of Tim.  His energy and excitement were contagious.

 

Tom Brokaw had a tough job ahead, as he stepped into the job of temporary anchor of Meet The Press after Tim’s untimely death.  Don’t get me wrong.  He has done an excellent job at filling the gap created by the loss and there was probably no one else who could have done it as well.  But it is still hard to tune in to MTP on Sunday morning without wishing for one more chance to hear that too familiar voice speak the words, “Remember.  If it’s Sunday, it’s  Meet The Press.”  What a loss we have sustained.

 

I recently had dinner with my old friend Roger Urbanski, from college days.  Although he moved away from Buffalo, N Y years ago, his heart is still there with the Buffalo Bills.  He talked about what a joy it was for him to have Tim Russert as such an unabashed Bills fan.  It was true.  Tim Russert may have been even handed in politics.  He was a tough and fair interviewer.  No one came to national political prominence  without passing  through Tim’s tough interrogation.  But when it came to the Bills, Tim was admittedly and purposefully biased. 

 

It has been a great political season to watch.  The results will be historic as they always are.  I just wish that Russert had been here to see it, to comment on it, to give his opinion and mostly to laugh.  When he laughed, I believe he inspired us all to join him in the fun.

So I may miss a lot of the political hoopla. But I won’t miss missing Tim Russert.  Thanks, Tim.

 

 

 

 

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This entry was posted on October 27, 2008 by in Politics and tagged , .
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