Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Dean Passeth

Journalist and commentator David Broder passed away today at the age of 81.
The Dean was the ultimate insider, a man with an almost childlike faith in the senior elected officials he courted and befriended. Although he often wrote in broad strokes about the stultifying ideological partisanship that has paralyzed Congress and especially the Senate, he rarely named names out of a seeming reluctance to offend. While Broder often criticized presidents, one had the feeling that it was because he saw them as DC blow-ins unworthy of the noble men and women of the legislative branch.
Broder was a throwback, an American innocent at home who never really understood the corruption of Congress by corporate lobbyists and money. To do so would have offended his sense of the politician's noble calling to represent the people. He never explored the gap, or even the possibility of a gap, between the calling and the reality: That might have made him unwelcome at the highest levels of the DC party circuit. No gap -- especially when it wasn't really real -- was worth missing out on martinis with Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer.
He valued compromise, even though compromises almost never hold. He cranked out column after column with an almost Talmudic weighing of issues, only to conclude that there was no conclusion other than to wait and see. Somewhere along the line, he mistook an absence of point of view for intellectual integrity, and too often settled for pabulum. Today, this passes for a balanced perspective.
Although Broder was once an undeniably fine reporter, the DC political and social whirl informed his views as a columnist, and he seemed more anxious to not offend his friends (and to parrot their opinions)  than to actually analyze. He too often dealt in stereotypes and believed in his own importance, never a good thing for a supposed observer. Nonetheless, he was a rare voice of civility. Even though that came with a paucity of actual insight, I suppose it will be missed...

Citizen K. wrote critically of Broder here and here...

1 comment:

Darlene said...

I have often been critical of David Broder, but he was civil and that is an attribute sadly missing these days.