July 12, 2008
Tony, Tim and Tradition (Bob Franken)
@ 3:16 pm
It's not popular in Blogdom to say nice things about Washington insiders, even when they die. But at the risk of attracting venom from those who see debate only in the poisonous black and white of good and evil, I'm going to explain why the premature deaths of Tony Snow and Tim Russert just four weeks apart are such huge losses.
Both Tony and Tim represented the very best of politics' "Competition of Ideas." Both were champions of the honorable disagreement, where skeptical reporters and passionate advocates could hash out the best solutions to society's problems through intense debate.
Both of them died at the top of their game. Both squeezed every last bit of pleasure there was from exploring every facet of the issues that confront us.
Both were not only possessed of remarkable intellectual skill, but boundless enthusiasm. That inspired all of us in their huge audience to pay attention and participate in our system, as flawed as it is.
Unlike many of our showmen commentators of the day, Tony Snow and Tim Russert were old-school. How unfortunate it is that the term is now often used derisively by the UNschooled. They suggest that paying attention to facts and context instead of emotion and prejudice is obsolete. Tony and Tim proved them wrong by demonstrating every day that such fundamentals are essential if reason has any chance against mindlessness.
Even though we've lost two giants, we can carry on their tradition by ignoring all the nasty clamor, and challenging each other with intelligence. As we struggle to stay afloat as a nation, that is our only hope.