Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tim Russert for President

I've found my candidate. I've always liked Tim Russert, even though he is a confessed Democrat, I think he's the most reasonable reporter on TV. He doesn't bluster like Bill O'Reilly, but he doesn't get that hysterical look in eye that Katie Couric does when she's interviewing Republicans. He's respectful to all and he asks the questions I would ask.

I loved Tim's book about his dad, Big Russ. Despite my frequent irritation with my husband, I never underestimate his importance to our family and in my life. Because my father was absent and an abusive drunk when he was around, I realize what my husband gives to our children. He drives me and the kids crazy at times (you wouldn't believe the car ballet we have twice a week when we water the lawn), but he's the first one we reach out to when we need have a problem. Like Camilla Kimball, I'm starting to call him "Dad."

I read his newest book, "Wisdom of Our Fathers" in two days. It would have been one, but I had to help at a funeral.

Here are a couple of excerpts I loved (I dog ear the best parts :)):

(This is long, but you guys, it's so worth it):

The Room:

My father lived through the Holocaust. He had survived Auschwitz, the same camp Elie Wiesel had been in, and they were the same age. When I was fourteen I was reading Wiesel's ""Night" in school, but I had no idea that the Auschwitz he wrote about, where he had lived for a year, was the same place my father had been. But I did wonder why Wiesel hadn't been as lucky or as clever as my father and his companions.

My father's place was a kinder, gentler Auschwitz. As he described it, there was never a moment where people were dying in front of him. The worst had happened the first night, when they killed his parents and siblings. But from that moment on, as he described it, things were "not so bad."

He and the other boys kept outsmarting their Nazi captors, often by stealing food right from under their noses. As a child, I used to picture my dad in the cast of a black and white televeision show called Oscar and His Merry Men Meet the Nazis.

His four children, his kinderlach, as he called us, knew there was more to the story. We knew our playful and briny father had lost both parents, three younger sisters, and his older brother at Auschwitz. We knew which ones had died just a few hours after Dr. Mengele's "selection," and how Mengele, with his blue eyes, stared each inmate down as he decided who would live and who would die.

We also knew who had survived--at least for awhile--and who died just before the camp was liberated. We didn't know ther names. We didn't knwo what they looked like. We didn't know how the children sounded when they were torn from the arms of their parents. My father didn't want to frighten us. He wanted his children to feel safe in America "the best place to live."

But when he was very very sick in the hospital, and I knew we were losing him, I realized there was no going back. If I didn't make my move now, I could never again have access to his memories. If he died now, I would lose not only my father, I would also lose all the answers he held. Although he was very tired and sick, I said, "Dad, I need to ask you about your time in Auschwitz. I need to ask you some things. It's important."

He looked at me with real anger in his eyes. "Debbie, from the time you were a little girl, you always asked your questions. And I always told you, 'We got food, we got bread, we divided it up, we didn't suffer, It was fine.' And you kept bothering me and asking me these questions. And I kept telling you, as if I were in a room, 'Go away. Stop knocking on the door! I do not want to let you in this room. 'And yet you keep coming back, saying, 'Let me in.' So I'll ask you one more time to go away. If you knock again, this time, I'll let you in. But if I let you in this room, Debbie, you will never ever get out. So. Do you want to knock again and come in?"

I said, "Yes, I do, Dad." He was crying. He had covers on his body because he was very skinny and weak at the time, but he kicked off all the covers as if he were kicking down a door. "Fine," he said. "Come in, then. Come into a room that you can never leave."

"Can I ask you my questios?"

"You're in the room. You can ask me anything."

I asked him everything I ever wanted to ask. I asked him to tell me the real story, and he did. It was painful. And scary. And sickening. I felt that part of me had died.

My father was right. Once you're in that room, you can't get out. It's always with you.

-----Debra A. Fisher, Rye Brook, NY, occupation therapist, daughter of Oscar W. Fisher, importer (1928-1993)

And on a lighter note:

The Heisman

You wouldn't want to see a father do this too often, but once in a lifetime? What a memory!

My dad was born and raised in Ohio, and after WWII he attended Ohio State University.

I was in the eighth grade, sitting in math class, when I heard the school secretary over the intercom that I should come immediatedly to the office because my father was waiting for me there. Of course I feared the worst, but when i saw him standing there, he had a big grin on his face. When I asked why he had come, he said, "Archie Griffin won the Heisman Trophy aobut an hour ago and I wanted to tell you first." Archie Giffin was the great Ohio State halfback, and my father was so excited he just couldn't help himself.

--Jeremy Kahn, Olny, MD, sales, son of Jerry H. Kahn, insurance broker (1923-1990)

You guys, this is a wonderful book. I recommend it, and I'm going to read it to Bill on our next road trip.

And I'm going to draft Tim Russert for president. I think he'd rock.


Barb said...

The Room was such a powerful excerpt. I plan to send you a story for your personal view soon about a woman who was in a concentration camp and her escape.

Is being a Democrat a disease? Ummn, I am a Democrat although my idealogy has shifted more to the right from the corruption of all my Republican friends. I was raised to believe that the press is far to conservative.

Bryce said...

Tim Russert is one of my favorite Imus in the Morning guests (although it does get a bit tedious when he's hawking his book).

Mark Butler said...

I haven't read his book, and I do not deny his good qualities, but it is more than apparent to me from his demeanor tht Mr. Russert has some of the last qualities I would ever like to see in a President. Senator Jon Kyl from Arizona is more my idea of someone with the proper maturity to lead the United States of America.

annegb said...

I thought Tim Russert was mature. What did he do that wasn't mature?

Tell me more about this Senator Kyl. I live in southern Utah, but I've never heard of him. But I'm slow. I'm truly looking for somebody I can get behind, my feelings about Tim aside. There's just not a candidate that appeals to me yet. For reals.

Bryce, Did you see that Larry King show where Don Imus and his wife bickered so badly? It was hilarious. I thought they were channeling me and Bill.

Barb said...

Annegb, I have seen Imus and his wife on Larry King before. Funny!

Barb said...
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