A few things stand out.
First of all, in a city that’s full of people in a rush to make an impression, David was the guy who took the time to get it right, day in and day out, without bombast or pretense.
He wasn’t looking to make an impression so much as he was trying to do his job and to do it well.
The notoriety took care of itself.
He was a workhorse first and foremost — a reporter who seemed to enjoy the work more than any attention he got for it.
Everybody who ever worked with him seems to have a story about watching him knock on doors in his late 70s or earnestly listening to a Midwest voter in the cold.
It all points to a sturdiness of purpose and to the old virtues of patience, fairness, hard work, and a sense that other people’s opinions were at least as valuable as his own.
Add to that a deep curiosity and thoughtfulness, and a childlike appreciation for the mechanics of Democracy, and you’ve got a pretty good model for what political reporting is all about.
I hesitate to say he was conservative in temperament, if not in his politics.
But that’s what comes through.
It’s become commonplace to say that David Broder was the Dean of American political reporters — but I think it’s worth understating what people mean by that.
It doesn’t mean he was the most exciting guy in the room — he wasn’t.
It doesn’t mean he had the most scoops — I’m not sure that he did.
I think what it means, aside from the sheer length of his career, was that more than most people, his life came to take the shape of the profession that he chose in life.
It became sort of an extension of himself.
That’s what seemed to give him so much joy and satisfaction in his work, along with the respect and admiration, and maybe even a little bit of envy, of so many others.
Republican or Democrat.
Liberal or conservative.
Young or old.
We could use a few more David Broders.”