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David Broder: One of a Kind
Comments () | Published June 9, 2011

THE DEAN

Maralee Schwartz: In 2003, the prescription-drug vote went till 6 in the morning. Other reporters peeled off. David never did. He stayed in the House gallery till 6 in the morning. Then he went home for a couple of hours. Then he came in at about 10 and wrote the most compelling tick-tock of what had happened. I remember sitting there reading it and thinking, “He puts all of us to shame.”

Colette Rhoney: I remember trying to get him to understand Facebook and what the Obama campaign was doing online. He didn’t stop wanting to learn.

Broder didn’t shy away from new technology, but he struggled with electronics on the road.

Maralee Schwartz: Filing [sending in stories to be edited] was just the nightmare of the century. I used to call Dan Balz’s room and say, “Dan, go in there and file David’s story.” And he’d say, “I have to file my own story.” I’d say, “File his first.”

Dan Balz: I joked that as long as David is here I had a job: his tech-support guy.

Maralee Schwartz: In 2004, during one of his “retirements,” I asked him to give me a list of some of the races he’d like to travel to and cover. I thought he could pick his spots and do a few stories. So he comes back with this list. I just sit there staring at it, and I went into his office and said, “David, we have to give the other reporters some opportunity to travel, too.” And he said, “Oh, right, right.”

George Broder: As his body did start to fizzle out on him, my mom drove him up to some of those precincts he liked to go to. They would go to a shopping center and sit on a bench, and he’d talk to voters. They’d drive up to Philadelphia, spend the day—four or five hours—and then drive back. Long day. Here they are, both in their late seventies.

Haynes Johnson: He never gave up, right to the very end. He was in and out of the wheelchair, in and out of the hospital. He had dialysis. But he kept going.

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Maralee Schwartz: The last lunch I had with David was on September 19, 2010. He was ebullient. He had just been up to the Hill to see Dave Obey and John McCain. This was right when it appeared pretty certain Rahm Emanuel would leave his job to run for mayor of Chicago. David said, “So who do you think will be the next White House chief of staff?” I gave him the obvious list of names I’d been hearing. And he looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “I think it’s going to be Bill Daley.” You didn’t hear that name for another three months until it was announced.

George Broder: Technically, he retired. He never retired. His last column was February 6. He left us March 9. The brain and the fingers worked fine right up until the very end. It was just the body that he put literally billions of miles on, that skinny little body. It carried him the whole time.

And he pushed it—how many all-nighters, how many 19-, 20-hour days, back to back, on the road, file the story, get back to the room, get up at 5:30 the next morning and do the Today show, and get on the bus.

This feature first appeared in the May 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.

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Posted at 10:33 AM/ET, 06/09/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Articles