While I’m well aware that there are rich folks who like to pose as men of the people, I’m intrigued by this idea that there is something necessarily contrived about Tim Russert’s blue-collar persona. Yeah, the guy lived and moved in the Beltway, reportedly earning some $5 million a year. But his dad was a Buffalo, New York sanitation worker. Russert legitimately came from a blue-collar background. Is it really that hard to believe that this background shaped and influenced him even after he left town and became wealthy?
I know lawyers and bankers who, like Russert and my own father, were the first white-collar people in their families. They live differently than their parents and in many cases they think differently. But in most cases, their upbringing is still a source of pride to them and a major influence on their values. They are often equally different from their colleagues who came from backgrounds of privilege. Maybe if Russert had stayed in Buffalo and been a local lawyer or teacher, it would have been more authentic. But I really don’t find it that difficult to believe that a man could rise from a humble background to become a D.C. operator without losing his Buffalo pride.