I met Tim Russert last May in Buffalo, New York as he spoke as the home-town guest to a conference he attended. It was a few weeks before father's day and he spent most of his 40 minute speech talking about his dad, Big Russ. He also spun some fun yarns from the set of Meet the Press and took us inside what his day is like.
Afterwards, he stood around the makeshift conference bar with a few of us political junkies and had a beer, talking about the possibilities of the 2008 race that was still a year away at the time. He was down-to-earth, extraordinarily well-informed and generous with his insights and time.
I chose the image today from the 244 on flickr because it was not your standard headshot and seemed to capture the guy I met over a beer in his hometown. Thanks to Timothy Pedersen.
For quite some time I really didn't think that much of Tim Russert's work on NBC. For some reason, his style and I did not connect and I generally avoided Meet the Press, which I considered a poor competitor to This Week.
Then came the White Board Moment.
On a night when seemingly no one on television was able to explain just what was happening, Tim Russert threw aside the technology and the maps and the millions of dollars of stuff at his disposal and communicated directly with the American public. He clearly showed us what was happening and how important Florida had become.
With a $2 white board.
In that moment I felt understood this guy and how well he connected with the US populace. Last year, I was gratified to find that my analysis was correct, but more gratified to get a chance to hear him talk about his dad and his son, to thank his wife for all of her time spent helping him and to thank those of our group for helping students like his son Luke go to college.
Last week he got to see Luke graduate from Boston College. Russert had done an awful lot in his career, but I am glad that "Little Russ" got the chance to see that moment before the screen went dark yesterday.