Pressing Issues

Ten years ago, shortly after Independence Day 2008, I wrote the piece below for my monthly newsletter. When I read recently a decade has passed since that sad event, I wanted to share my missive again. Amazing how time flies… and how many things – including our challenges as a nation – are always there.

Tim Russert died suddenly last month. The longtime host of “Meet The Press” was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world earlier this year by Time magazine. He had an outstanding reputation as a fine man and superb interviewer, always willing to ask the hard question in a respectful way. A lot of famous people weighed in with praise about his life, which ended way too soon.

On the following Sunday’s edition of “Meet The Press,” his chair sat empty for the first time in 17 years. Tom Brokaw hosted a tribute that included reflections from close friends James Carville and Mary Matalin, and reminiscing by former colleague Maria Shriver, the first lady of California.

What struck me most was how little I knew about Tim Russert… and how much we shared: love of sports and devotion to our teams; careers in journalism; educated in Catholic schools (and still attend Mass); and, among the biggest fans of the same rock star.

It seems around 1973, Russert was promoting concerts at his alma mater while attending law school. He booked a little-known performer for $2,500 to play on campus. Guy turned out to be Bruce Springsteen, and they were friends for years.

The Boss is touring in Europe and was unable to attend the memorial service. However, he sent a video and sang Russert’s favorite song, “Thunder Road.” Introducing it, he said, “Tim had a real belief in that Promised Land and the American idea, and that was the passion that you heard behind all those tough questions on Sunday morning, and in that big smile.”

During this month when we celebrated the 232nd anniversary of our nation’s birth, it would be good to pause for a few moments to consider that belief and passion. The last line of “Thunder Road” is: “I’m pulling out of here to win.” I’m confident the win will come. Keep the faith during these current lows. The time for learning is ahead.


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