Tom Brazaitis, 1940 – 2005

tomb.jpgTom Brazaitis, who covered Washington for nearly three decades for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and co-authored the 2000 bestseller Madame President with his wife Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift, passed away yesterday. He was 64.

His paper called him “heart and soul” of the Washington bureau since the days of Watergate, who “brought insight and decades-long experience in the nation’s capital to bear in his mince-no-words, proudly liberal columns in The Plain Dealer’s Forum section on Sundays.”

The Plain Dealer explains that his colleagues will remember that “less visible to readers was his coolness under the deadline pressure of the news business. In a noisy media pavilion he could watch a presidential candidate’s acceptance speech and, within the hour, file a clean and accurate assessment for the next day’s newspaper, then head out to discuss politics over dinner.”

The Washington Post remembers “In some respects, Mr. Brazaitis was a Washington anomaly. He was relatively low-key in the world of punditry, seldom appearing on television with the exception of C-SPAN and making occasional visits to the public radio program ‘The Diane Rehm Show.'”

Brazaitis (pronounced “Bra-ZI-tis”) died of kidney cancer, a struggle that he wrote eloquently about in the Plain Dealer.