"Meet the Press" is, by its nature, an hour of posturing, lies and evasions, but today it was filled with genuine feeling--tears, laughter and even a few home movies. (Who could resist Doris Kearns Goodwin in a blonde wig with a feather boa popping out of a cake to a do a Marilyn Monroe-JFK bit for Tim's 50th birthday?)
Tom Brokaw, presiding over the mourning, was in tears at one point, while political toughie Mary Matalin clenched a soggy Kleenex, but the prevailing mood was love and laughter, a hell of a good wake for a good life, even without alcohol.
By now, everything that could be said about Tim Russert has been said and oversaid, but it's hard to resist one final observation about the sources of his success, beyond Buffalo, Big Russ and his old-pol Irish genes.
He had the good sense or good fortune or perhaps both to get a start in politics before switching to journalism with two of the twentieth century's best people in public life--Pat Moynihan and Mario Cuomo.
From the Senator-scholar who deplored the trend of "Defining Deviancy Down" and the best president we never had who redefined Reagan's "shining city on a hill" at the 1984 Democratic convention, a young Russert learned that politics was a serious business for serious people.
For all his fascination with the down and dirty of it all, Tim Russert never forgot those lessons. When all the eulogies are over, his successors would do well to remember them for the future.