Friday, June 13, 2008
Tim Russert Remembered
NBC newsman Tim Russert had a wonderful appreciation of American history, borne of his own humble beginnings as the son a sanitation worker in Buffalo. During last week's "Meet the Press," which would be his last, Russert recalled the seemingly uncanny prediction by Robert Kennedy in the early 1960s that America would be ready to elect an African-American as president by 2008. "There is no question about it," said Kennedy to the Washington Post. "In the next 40 years a Negro can achieve the same position that my brother has." Kennedy said race relations were progressing at such a rate that "we are not going to accept the status quo."
In underlying this quote, Russert seemed amazed by Kennedy's almost prophetic comment. "Extraordinarily prescient," said Russert.
As an Irish Catholic, Russert probably remembers his own reaction to JFK's election, breaking a barrier by becoming the first Catholic elected to the White House. As my book recounts on page 598-99: "Sophisticates such as television commentator Tim Russert still remember how the Irish Catholics in his old Buffalo neighborhood, the morning after the 1960 election, bounded out of their houses and yelled, We won! We won! 'He was Irish Catholic and one of us,' Russert recalled. 'For me it was so important because I now realized we could do anything. There were no more obstacles, no more limits."
Here's Russert talking about his father during a 2004 interview with Charlie Rose.