Friday, June 13, 2008

Timothy John Russert, Jr. - 1950-2008

Move over, St. Peter, there’s a new guy in town.

You’ve been in charge of the Pearly Gates as long as I can remember and then some, if I’m to believe what I’m told, and I’ve never heard any complaints about the job you’re doing. Today, though, I’m thinking you must have been in dire need of some help.

Most of us here on Earth have watched the news enough to be aware of the population explosion on our planet. I guess more people living means more people dying, and that must translate into longer lines of souls waiting for you to decide if you’ll let them into Heaven.

I’m not exactly sure what the criteria for entry are these days. I’m guessing the basics are still used as guidelines, like obeying the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule, but I suspect the Powers That Be have eased up on some of the old rules and set the bar higher on others. Possibly, if enough lawyers have made it into Heaven, they’ve convinced you to create another whole set of ordinances to serve as loopholes in case too many of the new arrivals are litigious. It's probably getting increasingly difficult to keep up with all of that.

I’m thinking about all this stuff, thinking maybe you need help, because I can’t think of any other reason why God would have taken Tim Russert from us right in the middle of this important, historical election. He was the one current news journalist I felt I could count on religiously (if you don’t mind my use of the word) to sort through the truths, the half-truths and the full-blown lies. He was unbiased. He was well-prepared, armed with the background knowledge to ask all the right questions of our leaders and those who aspired to lead us. His questions elicited the kind of answers we needed to help us evaluate the subjects of his interviews and make good decisions in the voting booth. If the information we needed was mired in complexities, he whipped out his whiteboard and erasable markers and made it clear for us.

How are we going to get along without him? And how must he feel about being called away at this particular time? As one of his news colleagues shared today, Tim Russert considered election year to be his Super Bowl. Why in the world (or in Heaven?) was journalism's quarterback yanked right before the second half of this high-stakes game?

I was asking myself all those questions, St. Peter, and after a while it dawned on me that there might be an even more important job for Tim Russert to do. He’s uniquely qualified for a job like yours. His fairness, his thoroughness, his ability to separate truth from self-serving rhetoric in the course of an interview -– nowhere are those skills more valuable than right there at the Pearly Gates. If that’s where he is, then I guess I understand, but I still feel really, really sad. And I do wish you could have handled things on your own at least through November.

When you see God, St. Peter, please remind Him that those of us in America have some important decisions to make in the next few months. We’ll need His guidance more than ever now that Tim Russert is gone.


  1. Very moving post Velvet. I was just so shocked when I heard the news. He made politics bearable.

  2. FYI, I've added a link to this post from my most recent (Russert-centric) post.

  3. Yes, it is so shocking, he had a HUGE following. And he was so young. I feel terrible for his family as well as the rest of the United States!

  4. Creekhiker, I was shocked, too. I liked him because he always seemed so enthusiastic about his job.

    Sister-Three, do you think you might be an even harsher judge than St. Peter is?

    Yajeev, I appreciate the link.

    Nan16, my high opinion of him was based on what I've observed of his fair-minded journalism. That opinion rose even higher after seeing so many people speak about his thoughtfulness to his friends and his close bonds with his family.

  5. Velvet...truth is I don't know much about Tim Russert. I did read the book that he wrote mainly about his father.

    I am not a tv watcher. Patsy watchs the news type shows...but I have given it all up. Mostly bad new is what is viewed. I am depressed enough without knowing a lot about what is going on.

    I am sure Tim was a wonderful guy.

  6. Sister-Three, I understand where you're coming from. Truth is, I don't know much about St. Peter.

  7. It seems sister three likes to talk from both sides of her mouth. Her sister left a blog post titled "One Down" refering to Russert (which she recently took down) in which sister three said she would not loose any sleep over his death because he supposedly said some things about Hillery she did not like. In the comment here she does a 180 and says he was a wonderful guy? Her true colors were shown in her original comment left on her sisters blog. She cannot have it both ways.

  8. Anonymous, I read the "One Down" post you mentioned, including the comments. Obviously, I wasn't of the same mind about Tim Russert as the sisters initially were (and wouldn't have had the guts to write it if I'd felt that way).

    I will say that I've been reading Patsy's blog for a couple of years now, and I've never seen her back down on anything about which she held strong convictions. That makes me suspect that the reason she took this particular post down is because she had second thoughts about it.

    Likewise, I believe Sister-Three must have changed her mind to some degree between her first comment here on 6/14 and her second one on 6/15. Maybe she learned some good things about Tim Russert in the time between those two comments, things she'd never known before.
    I don't think the discrepancy in her comments here and on Patsy's blog was a case of "trying to have it both ways." I think it was an acknowledgment that she may have been too quick to pass judgment without having all the facts.

    Personally, after seven years of George Bush, I find it refreshing when someone can say, "Hey, maybe I made a mistake." I'm all for enlightenment.

    All that being said, it strikes me that your comment calling attention to the discrepancy is *exactly* the kind of thing Tim Russert did in his interviews, and it was very effective. When he posted those then-and-now quotes, it kept his interview subjects on their toes.

    Thank you for letting us know that some readers are paying really close attention. It'll keep us on our toes, too.

    NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, despite the content of my Tim Russert/St.Peter post, I think I may have written some time back that I personally think of Heaven as a state of being rather than an actual place. I still feel that way. Just wanted to set the record straight.

  9. Thank you for posting this. I've been drafting my thoughts of losing Tim Russert and just could not nail them down. What a loss, WHAT A LOSS. Thank you again, your words helped me. That you feel the same helped me more.


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