Guest: Peter King, John Harwood, John Kerry, Kathy Matthews, Howard Fineman, Eugene Robinson
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews reporting from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.
We are moving, and I mean it. 90-minute memorial service was just held to honor the life of my friend in colleague, Tim Russert. It was something and we‘re going to give you right now some of the most poignant moments and you may have missed this afternoon. Of the 90 minutes that selected this our producers for you to see right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL HUNT, BLOOMBERG: Tim turned to the oldest virtues in the profession—preparation, integrity, fairness, accountability, chalk boards, tough but civil, and an enormous respect for his viewers and the noble calling of politics.
MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Timothy J. Russert, noble, honorable, intensely loyal. He loved and was loved by his wife, his son, his family, his friends and a huge slice of this great country of ours.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: We were all experts, after all, on Tim‘s heart. We were all recipients of its might, the generosity and compassion that flowed from it. I felt qualified to conduct a guided tour of Tim‘s heart. All of us did.
But how is it that that heart that sustained so many of us through its goodwill stopped beating for the one man who depended on it for life.
As hearts go, when you think about it, it was more of a shooting star as it was a vessel for our friend Tim—brilliant, shining brightly, passing before us for just a short time. Too short a time.
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: And so on election night, Big Russ, I will raise this glass to you for your girt to us of Tim and to your favorite saying—his and mine as well—what a country. Thank you.
LUKE RUSSERT, TIM RUSSERT‘S SON: He had a great time living and there‘s no doubt having the time of his life now in heaven.
So, I ask you, this Sunday, in your heart and in your minds to imagine a “Meet the Press” special edition, live from inside St. Peters gate. Maybe Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr will be on for the full hour debating. Perhaps JFK and Barry Goldwater will give their two cents about the 2008 election. We could have Teddy Roosevelt talking about the need for a third party.
George Bernard Shaw said, this is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a muddy one, being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clad of ailments and grievances.
Well, my dad was a force of nature and now his own cycle in nature is complete. His spirit lives on in everybody who loves their country, loves their family, loves their faith and loves those Buffalo Bills.
I love you dad and in his words, let us all go get them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, of course, that was Luke Russert, Tim‘s—wonderful son who gave that tribute. It was quite a tribute by a son to a father.
And here we have an amazing, kind of mystical thing that just happened. As we came out of the memorial service, we came out at Kennedy Center right behind me—the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—we saw a double rainbow.
Take a look at this. This is natural. It—look at it—it‘s a double. You can see the one at the tree level and then one higher up, sort of—from our perspective, about five feet up.
But look at it. A double rainbow. It‘s kind of—you know, the mystics will make something of this.
Let‘s go to the people who are not mystics. Peter King, U.S. congressman from New York and MSNBC political analyst and great “Washington Post” reporter, Eugene Robinson.
I want to start with you, sir.
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: Yes.
MATTHEWS: And you know, I make these questions up on nights like this
rather on the moment.
KING: Right. I believe it.
MATTHEWS: I—and your sarcasm comes free of apprise here.
MATTHEWS: It seems to me that Tim, who I‘ve worked with all these years, has been a colleague all these years, and yet the reaction of the public seems to have something beyond something to do with journalism or what job he did, his craft of asking tough questions.
What was it? Why the emotional—I mean look at the people here tonight. What a cross-section.
KING: Yes. I would say somehow he managed to identify with the middle class people, the neighborhood people. He wasn‘t like a movie star. I mean I spent this weekend, I go into the Dunkin‘ Donuts, I go to a diner, people talking about Tim Russert.
But it wasn‘t like when some superstar, a movie star, (INAUDIBLE) died. It was like a neighbor died or a friend or a cousin or—and somehow he transcended what you and I do.
KING: . and he was able to project that into working neighborhoods.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that‘s true. I‘ve actually been trying to figure it out.
Over the weekend, just doing errands around my house. People who had
you know at the store, at the grocery store, at the laundry, people who had seen me on “Meet the Press” with Tim, people I didn‘t know kept coming up to me and expressing their condolences as if I had lost a member of my family.
It was a reaction I hadn‘t anticipated, I hadn‘t really seen before, and I‘m still trying to really understand. Clearly, he meant.
ROBINSON: . something to the country beyond being, you know, the guy who asked David Duke the tough questions that Sunday.
ROBINSON: . or the guy who—you know who said that we will be greeted as liberators from Cheney. I mean it‘s—it was more than that.
MATTHEWS: I wonder if it‘s—let me try something that‘s almost operatic. His love affair with the Buffalo Bills. It‘s sort of like the stuff of opera because the Buffalo Bills don‘t always win. I don‘t think it would have worked if he was a Yankee fan or even a Sox fan, right?
KING: Or, you know, Brooklyn Dodger fan?
MATTHEWS: More like a Dodger fan.
KING: That‘s right. Yes. Right, yes.
MATTHEWS: Something about loyalty to church, to his family, to his country. I wonder whether—and I‘m not being soporific here. I wonder at a time we have a lot of sophisticated journalists, with Ivy League degrees, and we have politicians with great erudition and sophistication, some of them.
We have people with real ideology, an agenda and are angry, some of them. That Tim wasn‘t angry. He didn‘t have an ideology that I could ever figure out. I know he worked with Democrats, but I could never discern it. He was probably tougher on a lot of Democrats than some Republicans.
But what is it? Because I think that—I—you say it‘s not like movie star. Three big surprises in our life. I bet movie stars die, we all have -it‘s like one day in the paper, move on.
ROBINSON: Right. It happens.
MATTHEWS: You know, Carry Grant, a couple days.
MATTHEWS: Princess Diana.
MATTHEWS: Out of nowhere. Way past his prime, Elvis Presley.
MATTHEWS: I think it‘s what you said, the category. Women who‘d been abused by men identify with this beautiful princess who had been abused by the royal family and by their husband and everybody else over there.
Elvis Presley was a country boy. Country boys are always ignored. Hicks, we call them, the guys from the sticks. Elvis Presley was their guy.
Tim Russert, seems to me, he was the truck driver, the plumber, the garbage truck guy, the cop. The—you know like where we came from, and not where he ended up. As they were kidding about it, not every regular guy from Buffalo has a kid from St. Albans Preparatory School and a home.
ROBINSON: You‘re right. And a house in Nantucket, right.
MATTHEWS: It‘s the house in Nantucket. But he still looked like the guy from there.
KING: He looked like the guy. He sounded like the guy.
MATTHEWS: From Buffalo.
KING: And everyone who really hard, put in a full days work. That‘s the impression.
MATTHEWS: That‘s it.
KING: You know that he wasn‘t above it all, that he was—you know that he rolled up his sleeves. I mean on “Meet the Press” that‘s what he was. There was no prima donna there. I mean you—it‘s like going into the ring for 15-round fight.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me take you into the Republican cloak room. I never was in that room, by the way. I was in the Democratic cloak room.
You‘re in the—Republican cloak room in the house and you‘re all—eating hot dogs. That‘s what they eat in the Democratic side. What do they eat in the Republican side?
MATTHEWS: OK. They‘re eating hotdogs in there and they‘re watching TV, and they‘re watching—what do they say when the name Russert come up over the years? Not now after he passed but what was Russert‘s rep among pals?
KING: He‘s respected. I mean nobody thought he had an agenda. I mean—again they figure that he respected us, we respected him. I never saw any of the vitriol that you may find against other.
MATTHEWS: Against me.
KING: Some guys, so are you, but I mean—or you know, liberals (INAUDIBLE) and conservatives.
MATTHEWS: Did you get a sense—I know he worked for Moynihan, he worked for Cuomo. Did you guys get a sense that he was tougher on R‘s than D‘s?
KING: No, not at all. In fact, he looked upon him as the guy who worked for working class politicians, who their way up, who are also very, very smart. And that‘s the way people saw Tim Russert, as a working guy, who was also very smart and never forgot it.
He didn‘t look down on us. It wasn‘t—it was like, really, he truly respect us, we respected him. But he was a tough guy.
No, no one—we didn‘t see the partisanship there, no.
MATTHEWS: When watch him on TV as a pal—you‘re a pal?
KING: Yes, I am.
MATTHEWS: Did you see the.
KING: Machine pal.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a good thing sometimes.
MATTHEWS: We all may end up that way. The idea of—who are you rooting for? Were you rooting for him to nail the other guy or the other guy to get past his attacks, his questions?
KING: There was a friend that wanted him to get by it. But you know, I never really saw them as being cheap shots. I mean he really gave you the chance to answer the questions. And to me, if you didn‘t have the answers, it‘s your own fault, because you went on there, you knew you had to be ready for a tough fight.
I never worried when I was on “Meet the Press” about some cheap shot coming from nowhere. And if he did, you know, get you the gotcha moment, it was when you had the chance to answer it and it was done in good—not good fun, but good faith.
So, no, I always looked upon him as a good adversary and a tough guy, sort of like studying for the final exam.
ROBINSON: I think it always was the sense, though, that if you got it on “Meet the Press,” if he really got you, you deserved it. You know, because he had caught you in some horrible contradiction, some terrible hypocrisy, some.
ROBINSON: You know? And—but it was your fault. I mean, you know, he nailed you. And so there was a sense that justice was done on “Meet the Press.” And.
MATTHEWS: I‘m thinking.
ROBINSON: . there‘s not always a sense of justice to (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: I was thinking of the big moment, the October—the presidential campaign, which believe it or not, was going hot and heavy last October.
MATTHEWS: With Hillary Clinton as the frontrunner—Senator Clinton from your state, and you‘re very close to Hillary as her colleague.
But he asked her, where do you stand? Are you with Govern Spitzer on giving drivers licenses to people in the country illegally, knowing that she would at that moment have to choose between her alliance with the governor, her constituency of Hispanic-Americans who probably were rooting for that opportunity to get drivers licenses for some of the people.
MATTHEWS: . who were here legally, and at the same time knowing that he was carving her against the rest of the country, which is very conservative on illegal immigration.
KING: I think that was the first major turning points of the campaign. I don‘t think Hillary—that was a really good first shot. I think after that debate.
MATTHEWS: She (INAUDIBLE)
KING: Yes, she would be. That was—because brought Hillary down to earth.
ROBINSON: But she had a fair chance there. You could pick one. You know you could pick one and stay with it and, you know, and then you would alienate the other side. But you could have picked one and guard with it.
MATTHEWS: But she did. And then she wobbled to.
ROBINSON: But then she picked the other. And.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but she did say she was giving the drivers license, sort of. And then.
ROBINSON: Well, but then she wasn‘t what she said. And then.
ROBINSON: You know, then she kind of waffled in the coming days. So it was, you know, it was.
KING: Now in fairness to my friend Hillary, there‘s no way you can answer that question without antagonizing someone.
MATTHEWS: That‘s right. Take it.
KING: And Tim asked the question, yes.
ROBINSON: Right. That‘s why he asked the question.
MATTHEWS: But you don‘t consider that a gotcha question.
KING: No, no.
MATTHEWS: . where there‘s no way out?
KING: Fair comment there.
MATTHEWS: There‘s no way out, right? It‘s fair to catch a politician with no way out.
MATTHEWS: So you‘re still for peace in Northern Ireland, aren‘t you?
KING: I‘m (INAUDIBLE) the charge.
KING: I want peace on HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: You‘ll get it sometime. We‘ll be right back where we‘re back here at the one of the really nice places in America, by the way, which everybody in America should come to. The John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts right here in Washington, D.C.
It‘s an interesting night. It‘s been thundering. We did see that. We got to take another look in a moment. It‘s an incredible double rainbow. You only see a couple of them in your life. It‘s like a solar eclipse. But we have one right here. We just—there it is. Look at that. One of our producers, colleague took that.
Anyway, the memorial service is just over for Tim. We‘re going to talk more about Tim. And it is really the last of the ritual ceremonies for Tim. We had the viewing last night and we had the church service this morning.
And I want to talk a little bit about that. And then we have this wonderful moment this afternoon. And there‘s—look at that, Tom Brokaw, looking 33 years old there. Look at the age of these guys.
Anyway, we‘ll be right back with more on Tim Russert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SISTER LUCILLE SOCCIARELLI, RUSSERT‘S FMR. SCHOOL TEACHER: In my mind and heart, ever since Friday, June 13th, I hear God. Here‘s little Timmy Russert, you‘re in heaven now, Tim where every day is “Meet the Press.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
L. RUSSERT: The other night, a friend of mine reminded me to look at Chapter 20, a big Russert (INAUDIBLE) chapter that is called “Walk.” It‘s about Michael Gardener, my dad‘s friend who lost his 17-year-old son to acute juvenile diabetes some years ago.
After his passing, my dad phoned Michael and he said to him, “Michael, think of it this way. What if God had come to you and said, I‘m going to make you an offer. I‘ll give you a beautiful, wonderful, happy and lovable son for 17 years, but then it will be time for him to come home. You‘d make that deal in a second, right? Well, I only had—I had 22 years, but I, too, would make that deal in a heart beat.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to the John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts. Of course, the Kennedy Center, it‘s known as for a memorial. We just saw a 90-minute wonderful tribute to my colleague Tim Russert.
I‘m joined right now by CNBC‘s John Harwood who writes for “The New York Times.” He‘s also joined by—as we were in the last segment with Gene Robinson of the “Washington Post” who‘s also an MSNBC political analyst.
Let‘s take a look—I want to talk about something I happen to catch this morning. I was at the funeral mass at Holy Trinity, which is a wonderful in George Tennessee. It‘s a Jesuit Catholic Church. The Jesuits run that church. It has a certain quality. It was John F. Kennedy‘s church all those years when he was a senator and president.
And what I was struck by—I was actually crying watching this. In the front row, the pew, over to the left, were two guys chatting away as colleagues, as we were all waiting for the service to begin.
For a long, long time, heads were bobbing, they were chatting adamantly. And one was John McCain and one was Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: I am absolutely taken with that.
John, that‘s the country I want to live in, because, you know, you do have a lot in common when you‘re an American and your differences are, let‘s face it, political. And you know, they‘re political and that‘s what we argue about, how to best serve this country.
And that you have a goal which is similar. You both want this country to make it. And yet, to see them so civil. I don‘t know who orchestrated this but they‘re next to each other but.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC CHIEF WASHIGNTON CORRESPONDENT: You want to say something about it? You lived through it with your dad covering the politics and being emotionally connected to it. You know what goes on. There word bitter. I‘d like to get it out.
There are moments, I think, Chris, of passage, transition and tragedy that tend to bring out the best in people. It usually doesn‘t last very long.
MATTHEWS: Look, they‘re going in the church together.
HARWOOD: Lord knows, after 9/11, it didn‘t last long. People related to one another in a different way. And this is one of those moments for journalists, politicians where you reflect on who you are, what your values are, why you‘re in the business you‘re in. That‘s what you saw in Barack Obama and John McCain talking to each other.
ROBINSON: It also reminded the two men of something they have in common. They both sat in that chair with Tim and they both went through that crucible of “Meet the Press.” And it kind of highlights that it was a kind of right of passage. It was something politicians did in Washington. If you were ambitious, you went to “Meet the Press” and talked to Tim and you went through that experience. Shared experience tends to bring people together in a moment like this and remind them of what they have in common, which is all that you said in your intro that they have the same goals and aims. They just have different ways of achieving them.
HARWOOD: The trouble with politics is so often people attack the motives of the other side. They do not accept the premise that you said, which is that they are in it for the same reason and they want the same beneficial results. They just have different visions of how to get there. So often, people assume those in Washington—they make this charge about each other. But also it‘s an assumption people make about Washington, that it‘s venal, that it‘s corrupt, that it‘s for a motive other than what people are saying. I think often times that‘s not true, but sometimes it takes events like this to bring out the fact that it‘s not true.
MATTHEWS: I find it hard to meet the standard I‘m talking about, to believe that somebody is very different than my view of world events, very different from my view of foreign policy in the Middle East, who‘s for it all the way to the other side. I say, but I have to keep telling myself, that‘s their point of view. That‘s their way of saving our country and looking out for us. It‘s just a different than maybe my way of looking at it.
I was taken by that. We‘ve gone through an election where the issue of bitterness has come up. I think Barack Obama made a big mistake describing a lot of Americans as so embittered by modern social democracy its shortcomings that they‘ve turned to religion. I think this embrace of Tim here is because people are comfortable with somebody who is religious.
Tim Russert didn‘t fall back on his religion because he failed at life or he didn‘t have a break in life. He was doing well.
ROBINSON: Right. Right. That‘s true.
MATTHEWS: He was at the top of his game and never messed church.
ROBINSON: It was an integral part of his life, yes.
MATTHEWS: He was knocking the Barack Obama argument. I‘m getting chills in my leg because I feel something about this country that‘s so real, which is people are not religious because they are down.
HARWOOD: Everything Tim did, Chris, he did all out. And that‘s true of his faith. It‘s true of his family. It‘s true of his profession, the things he loved. I have to tell you, I‘m feeling a little bit of guilt about an important thing that happened in Tim‘s life and my life a few months after he took over “Meet the Press” in 1991. My Washington Redskins beat his Buffalo Bills like a drum in the Super Bowl.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a good thing though.
HARWOOD: I should feel really bad and I only feel a little bad about it, I have to say.
ROBINSON: He would not feel bad if the Bills beat the Redskins under any circumstances.
HARWOOD: No, he would not.
ROBINSON: He would not. So I don‘t think you have to feel bad about the Skins.
MATTHEWS: What‘s happening here? My wife is standing over here. Come over here, Kathy. She never does this. She used to be a big TV star and she just walked up here and thinks I‘m going to ignore her.
UNIDENTIIED: (OFF CAMERA).
MATTHEWS: No, we‘re still on the air. But my wife came over. I thought it would be great to have her here.
Kathy, come here.
She doesn‘t want to come on.
I think that is something. I‘ll go back to it. I wish there was camera‘s in the church today. Maybe it wouldn‘t have been the same scene because they would have been afraid to look so friendly. Maybe that‘s what it‘s like in the cloak room. Barack Obama. . .
ROBINSON: ... I don‘t think it‘s like that.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t think it‘s like that?
ROBINSON: I don‘t think it‘s like that. If they bumped into each other two weeks ago, I don‘t think it would have been the same. This is a special moment, a special place.
HARWOOD: The other thing that was impressive, the way the campaigns and the press kept quiet about the fact they were going to attend. If that word had gotten out, the Secret Service would have to have magometers there.
MATTHEWS: All right.
HARWOOD: And everybody who came into the church and the family did not want that to happen. People kept that quiet.
MATTHEWS: It was nice to go to church without a metal detector. I don‘t know what that meant profoundly, but it meant something to all of us. It‘s nice to go to a church.
By the way, it‘s a Jesuit church. It‘s liberal. It‘s my kind of Catholic. It‘s really nice. They are very forgiving in that church. They‘re very forgiving at that church. The only sins in that church are nuclear war and racism.
We‘ll be back. John Harwood‘s joining us and Gene Robinson. We‘ll be back with more about this incredible moment of honoring Tim Russert at the John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Art.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maureen and Luke, your loss is profound. But, I hope it provides comfort in knowing that millions and millions around the world, from the most powerful to all those who‘s Sunday mornings revolved around Tim Russert, “Meet the Press” to the many children and those in need he was there for. They loved him. They will miss him, and always will remember him. We shall not see his like again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have lost the benefit of Tim‘s political wisdom at a time when we needed it most. A time when the wars, economic failures and confoundedly complicated social issues. It will be difficult, if not impossible to replace that wisdom. The inspiration he provided, as an example of the life well lead will be with us until memory fails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. We‘re out here at the Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts. I‘m not crazy, here‘s my wife. She was within earshot.
Kathy, you‘re friends with Maureen. You were friends with Tim. Why has he created this national ruckus of emotion?
KATHY MATTHEWS, WIFE OF CHRIS MATTHEWS: Everybody has said it beautifully. There was some of Tim that was the every man that connected to people. I also think he translated this campaign and desire for a wonderful country during a time of difficulty for the country in many ways, a time when we‘re in an economic downturn. People wonder if America‘s best days are behind us and not ahead of us. Tim was the guy that connected it had average voter at home with a lot of those issues, I think.
HARWOOD: Don‘t you think his joy had passion for what he did come through all the time?
KATHY MATTHEWS: It did. You walk away from funerals and people‘s deaths and say why, why, why did this happen? If you can walk away with a sense of lesson for all of us—I think it was Tim‘s sense of exuberance. Or as Mario Cuomo said, the Latin for enthusiasm that sense of their being good in all things and seeing that bright side of all things. That‘s the spirit of Franklin Roosevelt, which Doris Kerns Goodwin talked about. That‘s the spirit of Lincoln that there was going to be a better country after we fought the war of succession, the war of the states, the Civil War. I think Tim communicated that in many ways and was helping people transport themselves with what the conversation needs to be in 2008 and this election.
HARWOOD: Not the dark Irish Catholic.
KATHY MATTHEWS: No.
All of us who are Irish say let‘s purge the dark side or our Irishness and lets hold on to the good positive side of it, right.
MATTHEWS: It‘s always hard. Right. Exactly.
KATHY MATTHEWS: That‘s the lesson to learn from Tim. The lesson, I have to say, Luke lifted everybody‘s spirits at a time of great sadness. He sort of, you know, lifted us on angel‘s wings, as the Catholic hymn says, during a difficult time. Hopefully, that‘s what people will learn from losing him at this point in our history.
MATTHEWS: How do you fit in here?
KATHY MATTHEWS: We‘re lucky to know Tim, not only as colleagues at NBC, but having our son Thomas in school with Luke at St. Albans and to see all these St. Albans boys that have rallied around Like. He has so many friends from St. Albans, from Boston College, and to see them all together.
Maureen and I have been in a book club with some St. Albans moms. We‘ve read the “Kite Runner” and lots of great books together and discussed them.
That‘s the same thing that happens in communities all across America, families getting together. Mothers getting together as kids go off to college. They try to find substitutes for that empty next in friendships.
HARWOOD: That‘s the thing. It much less different in Washington than people imagine outside the country.
KATHY MATTHEWS: That‘s true.
MATTHEWS: A lot of people here tonight. What an amazing assembly of Americans here at the Kennedy Center.
Thank you, Kathleen.
KATHY MATTHEWS: Thanks for pulling me up in this storm, in this storm on this day. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I pulled you in.
KATHY MATTHEWS: Thank you, guys.
MATTHEWS: John Harwood and Eugene Robinson, thank you.
In the next hour, more of this afternoons eulogy as we continue to pay tribute to our friend, Tim.
We‘ll be right back from the John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENIFIED MALE: I see our friend in summer. I see his face. I hear his laugh. I feel his joy, his absolute delight in the life God gave him. Timothy J. Russert, noble, honorable, intensely loyal, he loved and was loved by his wife, his son, his family, his friends and a huge slice of this great country of ours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUKE RUSSERT, SON OF TIM RUSSERT: One of my dad‘s fans wrote something to me that captures him. She wrote, “If your dad could ask one thing of all of us, it would be to ask if our actions today yielded respect for our families, been a credit to our faith and a benefit to our fellow men. Great men often lead with their egos. Tim Russert led with his heart, compassion and, most importantly, his honor.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and “Hardball‘s” coverage of the memorial service that was held late today at the center.
We‘re joined by U.S. senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.
Senator, you and I were friends with Tim. You spent a lot of time with him socially and you matched wits with him on Sunday morning and put it all together.
JOHN KERRY, (D), MASSACHUSETTS: As a tribute in Washington, I thought today was one of the most extraordinary, personal, moving ceremonies I‘ve seen in 24 years I‘ve been here. I think every speaker captured a piece of his life in a wonderful way. It was a sober reminder of our responsibilities to each other. McCain and Obama were in the church sitting beside each other.
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t that something?
You had people who had crossed swords in all kinds of different ways there feeling the impact of Tim Russert as a journal, as person who is the referee in many cases.
I don‘t think there was a thing out of place today. I think it was a very important moment for people to stop and take stock in what‘s really important here.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it‘s an odd coincidence that ever since the bad news came Friday from the studio in Nebraska—we all heard about it in our own worlds—that nothing else seems to have happened. It just seems to have been a moment of—almost a moment of silence, politically for this to be marked, this tragedy.
KERRY: It‘s really interesting. I mean, that‘s very true. I think that a lot of things just—it really kicked people in the gut in a very significant way and it‘s like—the same thing with Teddy Kennedy‘s illness was announced.
There‘s been a lot of emotion in this city in the last few weeks; some of it around Ted Kennedy and some obviously around Tim Russert. I think people are feeling a little bit kicked around and hurting. There‘s a sense of loss, a big loss.
MATTHEWS: It seems like it‘s come at a time, Tim‘s passing, that we have also just come through a very rough political period. A lot of personal attitudes exposed, especially the Democratic side to those who supported Senator Obama and those who have supported Senator Clinton.
Is that coming to a peaceful end or is that still out there? That rivalry and anger.
KERRY: Well, I think it‘s working its way through is the way to put it. I think there are a lot of people meeting, a lot of people talking and thinking Chris. But I think that—my sense is, people are coming together. And I think that will resolve itself.
I think, more importantly, will the sort of lessons people talked about today so poignantly be integrated into the behavior. And I think the judgment will be out on that.
I just was very touched today in a personal way. It sort of made you step back and made you think about things that are important. Maybe that‘s a facet of getting older; maybe it‘s a facet being in a different position here now. But it‘s something that I really felt that today was a good day to take stock of where we are in the city.
I hope that the things that Luke Russert just talked about: honor, your family, your faith, the things that really define you in the end are what will guide us, all of us.
MATTHEWS: What struck me is that when the military came in, with the drill team came out—
KERRY: The honor guard.
MATTHEWS: When the honor guard came in and put that and we all sang the Star Spangled Banner. Actually Mr. Alanti (ph) did the actual singing that there was a recognition that patriotism is not a partisan thing.
I haven‘t heard that in a while. I get the feeling for a while there that the political right had claimed patriotism as theirs. And yet here is a case where the country recognized that patriotism was available to us all, including those who aren‘t partisan. Tim.
KERRY: Well, Tim as you know, I mean Tom Brokaw quoted and said it‘s his favorite saying too. What a country. I think Tim lived that every single day. Tim loved everything about this country and he loved the opportunities it gave him.
He just was the genuine article. He was a patriot. So, I think it was appropriate. You‘re right, I don‘t want to get political here, but I‘ve talked about that for a long time. I think patriotism is not defined always by, you know, how much you boast about your patriotism.
It‘s about how you live your life about your country and put it into the policies that you care about. And telling the truth is patriotic. Holding your country accountable is patriotic. There are a lot of ways to be a patriot and I think people need to understand that.
MATTHEWS: Thank you Senator John Kerry.
KERRY: It‘s good to be here.
MATTHEWS: Thank you for being with us this very sad day, but a glorious day in many ways. It is a tribute to many ways an average guy with great ability and a good fortune for America. You should have heard it today.
And the more you read about what you heard today was about family, and faith and loyalty to where you come from; Buffalo, in this case. It could be anywhere. To your church, to your family; these are American values and they were on rich display here at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
This wasn‘t entertainment here today, it was the real thing here from the Kennedy Center.
We‘ll be right back with a little more of “Hardball” tonight, a very strange show tonight, but it‘s a great duty for us to do this. Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He was a boy of summer. He met his wife on a summer day. His son was born in summer. So it is, that we blow him a kiss good-bye on a soft, summer evening. This sweetheart of a man who always, always left us smiling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with our coverage for the memorial service for Tim Russert. We‘re joined right now by my pal, MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman of “Newsweek.”
Howard buddy, I‘m feeling warm. This is something else. You and I were talking the ethnic piece today. Tell me your reaction is to what you‘re seeing here.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: As an insider, but outsider it struck me for a long time covering politics that politics in America is basically an Irish-Catholic enterprise. I can say that. Maybe you can.
I thought everything about Tim represented that; the speech, the gift for gab, the love of argument, the Jesuit thinking, the political organizing. Tim was the very embodiment of that in modern times.
MATTHEWS: The blarney.
FINEMAN: Well, the blarney and the focus. He took it from politics, which he mastered at a young age as they were talking about in here today. How he wired the CYO and went with Moynihan and Cuomo.
MATTHEWS: And how he got out of all those jams he was in.
FINEMAN: Get out of all the jams that he got into and out of. And then he moved out over to journalism, he took the Jesuit training and the love of politics that only Irish-Catholics fully understand for some reason.
And I‘ve spent my whole life as a reporter trying to figure out what it is, and it‘s a mix of the history of island and the love of speech and the Book of Kells and whatever it is, and the faith—
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s the Thursday night meetings too. How to hold the secret ourselves and wait for the other people.
FINEMAN: I had to laugh when Maria Shriver told the story about when she came to NBC and Tim went up to here and said we‘re both Irish-Catholic and there are not many of us here so we got to stick together. At that time, NBC was run by Jack Welsh at General Electric, and Bob Wright. And so it‘s basically a Holy Cross conspiracy from what I can tell.
That‘s what we loved about it. That‘s what we celebrated about. It‘s a great give that he left for America.
MATTHEWS: Howard Fineman, thank you buddy.
I laugh, but it was a solemn night. And once again, the double rainbow this afternoon, there it is over the NBC News Bureau on Nebraska Avenue in northwest Washington.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with our coverage of today‘s great memorial service for Tim Russert. At the very end of the service came as a surprise. One of Tim‘s absolute favorites, Bruce Springsteen, the only guest he could never get to come on “Meet the Press” sent a moving tribute to Tim.
So we you tonight this big night—a strange, emotional night for all of us, this loss of Tim Russert. And we bring you now what Bruce Springsteen had to say, “Thunder Road” which he dedicated to his pal Tim.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, SINGER: Luke, this is for your Pa. (Sings Thunder Road)
Tim, all our love. God Bless, we‘re going to miss you.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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