Conservatives sometimes had little use for Washington Post reporter David Broder, the prototypical purveyor of conventional wisdom. But Broder, who died today at 81, was a fair-minded man who tried his darnedest to get the story right and to avoid allowing his biases to overly color his analyses. And nobody outworked the man, which meant he often did spot trends that other establishment journalists missed. Back in 1994, with a few lonely souls daring to predict that Republicans might actually take over the House of Representatives after 40 years in the wilderness, few in the establishment press took seriously the idea that the GOP could win or the notion that it could do anything to govern with any effectiveness at all. That’s why, for Republicans on Capitol Hill, it came as a great sign when Broder came out with a column entitled (I’m doing this from memory, but I think this is right) “Republican Could Govern.” In a thorough and fair-minded way, it explained that there actually was talent, experience, and well-tested ideas within and emanating from the Republican ranks in the House — qualities that, despite some hiccups, did play out in the next four years in the shape of a balanced budget, welfare reform, and a major effort to revitalize Washington DC. Broder’s column shot down the idea that the Gingrich Republicans were mere hotheads or demagogues. In short, it took the GOP seriously, which was an exceedingly rare courtesy from many at Broder’s level in journalism. It was that courteousness, and the willingness to question assumptions, that made Broder a reporter and columnist to emulate. If he purveyed the “conventional wisdom” it was often not because he was following the pack, but because what he wrote soon became the analysis that others aped. He was a trend-setter, not a follower. He was a great reporter, and a good man. R.I.P.