Back in 1992 my family had just moved to Ankeny from Charlotte, North Carolina and we arrived in town and spent the next week living in the Best Western hotel on the corner of 1st and Deleware. Like every other child I would wake up in the morning on Sundays and watch whatever cartoons and kids shows were on. However that week was different because we were all in one room and with only one television I watched what my parents wanted to watch and that was Meet the Press with Tim Russert and I was hooked. We moved into our house on SE Peterson, but our moving truck had still not arrived so my family slept on the floor of our living room and while the rest of the week was filled with working to get our house in order we still watched Meet the Press with Tim Russert on Sunday and I had watched it nearly every week since. Throughout the years my family moved to different houses in Ankeny, we watched T.V. in different rooms and our tastes in other shows grew and faded, but Meet the Press remained constant.
This was before the internet, 24 hour news stations, and before I knew the difference between a Republican and a Democrat. I learned the language of politics from watching Tim Russert and the became a critical thinker by learning to question what I was being told and to be able to seperate what was someone giving their facts or their opinion. It was not flashy and it didn't need to be. There was nothing to distract us from issues that really mattered and questions that we ourselves asked. We learned about the person being interviewed but we also learned about ourselves. While every other part of the news media has changed, Meet the Press had remained the same. I learned about politics from the good to the bad and everything inbetween.
I had the honor of meeting Tim Russert at last year's Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Des Moines. He had been talking with a few people and I was standing by waiting for them to finish their conversation and Tim saw me waiting patiently and after he finished he approached me and we chatted. Other than introducing myself and thanking him for talking to me, I can't remember one thing I said, but I remembered that he acted more excited to talk to me than I was to talk to him. He asked me questions about where I was from and who I was supporting and why I was supporting them and would wear an expression on his face as if what I said really mattered to him. I remember thinking that my opinion really mattered to him and that he held on to every word I said. He thanked me for getting involved in politics and said I would be watching a part of history that night.
This Sunday Meet the Press won't be on and Tim Russert has passed on but I will always remember how he has touched my life. The biggest thing I have taken away from Meet the Press with Tim Russert is that politicans have to follow the facts, the facts can't follow the politican.