By Ken DeLaat
Cokie Roberts, who passed away today at the much too young age of 75 was a personal hero.
She, far more than anyone I see on the media landscape these days, was a true journalist. An unassuming and seemingly fearless commentator who teemed with integrity and could be trusted to deliver accurate accounts of the goings on at one of the most screamingly elusive and evasive institutions in our land, Congress.
A few years back she spoke at the January Series, the Calvin College annual winter gift to us all that is broadcast live at the Dogwood Center. One glimpse at the schedule that year and I knew that whatever else was going on in my life that day could wait because my behind was going to be in a good seat to hear her presentation.
And she was, most assuredly, not disappointing.
Roberts was candid, funny, and unafraid to be opinionated yet refraining from being unnecessarily unkind. She called out politicians and expressed her frustration at seeing how they were focused on sustained incumbency rather than any real problem solving.
And her wealth of historical knowledge provided an odd sense of relief when she said that today’s political divisiveness is perhaps not the worst our country has faced, referencing the 1850’s and the caning of a senator in the halls of Congress by a member of the house incensed at being referred to in a speech by the canee as 'an imbecile who held slavery as his harlot' among other things.
She reminded us, however, that the era she spoke of ended in Civil War.
Roberts spoke of her deeply rooted Catholic faith and had 2 years prior written a book with her husband about their 40+ year marriage and how they incorporated her Catholicism and his Judaism into an interfaith melding of both in celebration and worship.
I left impressed even more by the woman I had long admired.
During elections Roberts occasionally made appearances on one of the network news stations among the cadre of regular correspondents who always seem to clamor for the clever word or searing speculative thought. Her responses were always like a breath of fresh air arriving in a much too stuffy room. Marked by clarity, insight and a boatload of inside info she radiated competence and the others paled in comparison through no doing of her own other than being who she was.
A journalist...a consummate correspondent.
She was a sheer delight to listen to over the years and will be greatly missed.
Thank you Ms. Roberts.
And well done, Ma’am. Well done indeed.
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