Friday, June 13, 2008

R.I.P. Tim Russert

I haven't had too much good to say about Tim Russert here. But I learned a lot more about him in the remembrances I saw on MSNBC today, following his sudden death from a heart attack today. He was a superior Washington bureau manager, a mentor, a good friend, and dedicated not only to his family and his child, but to the families and children of colleagues.

Russert was a political process guy, not so good on policy, Tom Brokaw said. Maybe we need reporters who are just as intent on policy and other topics. The flooding in the Midwest continued today, and the reporting I've seen has been uniformly terrible. Print coverage doesn't seem much better. Maybe we need some reporters who bring that same intensity and hunger for knowledge to climate reporting as Russert brought to politics. It's been difficult not to get sucked into all politics all the time during this primary season, but that can't be everything.

The authenticity with which his colleagues spoke of Russert today suggests he was an authentic person, and a good person. He certainly seems to have touched many peoples lives for the good, and that's a great legacy to leave. Some of his colleagues also sounded lost, as if even his process-oriented rigor was a last bastion of quality news at the networks, which is scary. But for now we can note that many people will miss Tim Russert. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On the VP Short List

Just a brief comment on the VP short list "leaked" by a Senator who supports Obama. The cable bloviators and some Internet sites made a big deal of this, but doesn't anybody remember anything? This "list" seems to be one person's recollection of people he was asked about. Even if it isn't, even if it was actually "leaked" by the Obama campaign (which I don't believe it was), names have been leaked for all kinds of reasons in the past: as trial balloons, as something to make the people named feel good even if they aren't really being seriously considered, and as diversions for the media from the people who are actually being considered.

There have been times when the VP nominee wasn't even one of the "leaked" names. Paid journalists ought to be looking that up before they go off on their speculations. (Walter Shapiro has a go at Salon.) But then speculation is what feeds the cable/Internet audience: it offers viewers/readers reason to offer their opinions on the names, which provides the necessary illusion that they've got a huge audience. And gives bloviators ways to shape the hot air continously coming out of their mouths.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

That Was the Week That Was

A week too astounding to take in yet, it ended with perhaps the biggest surprise: Hillary Clinton gave a gracious speech, endorsing Barak Obama. Despite the bitterness some of her supporters still express, polls show the healing has begun.

But it's Obama vs. McCain now, and a couple of interesting prospects: that Obama will do better than McCain among Latinos (because he already is), and Obama is poised to do what no Democrat has even fantasized doing--getting a chunk of the Evangelical Christian vote--maybe even 40%.

I don't know when Obama said this, but this video shows him talking about his priorities in his first 100 days as President. The issues are Iraq, health care, energy/climate crisis, and reviewing Bush executive orders to reverse the ones that are unconstitutional. Though he probably would emphasize some pressing economic issues now, it's worth a watch.

I notice that some Clinton supporters are making their enemies list. And even though I was with the victor, there are people I will never think about in the same way again (which doesn't include Clinton people I always despised, like Terry McC. and Howard the Wolfson, or pols like Gov. Strickland of Ohio I first met during the campaign and despised immediately) That list would include--well, Emily's List, as well as Bill Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Paul Krugman, Joan Walsh of Salon ..and a bunch of people I've already forgotten, who will stay forgot.