I don't usually get too bent out of shape about the deaths of people I don't know -- but I mourn the death of Tim Russert. He was a guy who obviously loved what he did. The passion came through every time he appeared on television.
He was here in Iowa for the caucuses, of course, and I saw him at several of the political events I attended. He wore a khaki windbreaker and jeans or khakis, which rendered him nearly invisible in a crowd of people dressed more or less like him. He always stood off in the back or at the side, away from the other reporters and cameras. Never made a big deal out of his presence. (Sometimes the candidate would point him out, but it was clear Russert would prefer they not do so.
But he was unfailingly polite to the fans who sought him out to shake his hand.) And there he'd stand during the entire rally, hanging on every word from the candidate, every question from the audience. He didn't have to go to Iowa. Didn't have to attend those rallies. He'd heard it all before.
But it was clear from the look on his face that all of it still thrilled him to the bone. This was his lifeblood. This was the thing that got him out of bed every day. This was the place he wanted to be and the work he wanted to do. He was a guy who loved his family, his religion (he was a devout Catholic), and his sports teams. He was smart, incredibly hard-working, and fearless in his determination to bring big egos back to earth.
I'm genuinely saddened by his death. I'll miss his shrewd commentary and all those politico-geek charts of his filled with the numbers and circles and arrows. I'll miss his passion for life.