It is of course precisely the vitality and at-the-center-ness of Tim Russert that makes his sudden death so shocking. I am very sorry for his family.

Like many other people in political journalism, I have had differences with him over the years about his particular concept of "tough" questioning and the effect it had, because of his great influence, on politicians and the DC journalistic culture. Such issues are for another day.

What I liked and admired most about him as a journalist and human being was his sense of permanent child-like wonder, which is in fact the essence of this business. Reporters never quite think of themselves as grownups, because they're always so excited about the next thing they get to see or the next puzzle they get to figure out. Rather, if people don't feel this way, they find some other line of work.

Even he ascended past the level where he would routinely be called a "reporter," Tim Russert always retained that sense of openness and curiosity about what he'd learn in the next interview or see at the next event. In turn this made him seem un-stuffy to people who knew him only from TV, and approachable when you dealt with him in person. I am sorry that his weekly CNBC/MSNBC interview show was not as well-known as Meet the Press, because it showed more of his open, omni-interested nature than some of the Sunday morning inquisitions did. Still, the overwhelming reaction to his death shows that his essential character came through. This is sad news.