It may seem odd for a progressive like myself to miss Tony Snow (the number of issues we agree on can probably be counted on one hand, if not one finger). Still, I can’t say I’m happy see Snow go, like I was for say Rumsfeld or Rove. Why would you not want to see him go Nick? Well there are a few reasons.
1) Cancer sympathy. I have some close friends and relatives that have had to go through cancer, some of whom had colon cancer (as Snow had). In any event, for reasons that should be obvious, it’s hard for me to be totally harsh on a guy who had to go through cancer after what these confidants of mine went through.
2). Making O’Reilly and Limbaugh looks stupid. Remember when Snow accused Dick Gregory of NBC of being “partisan?” For a few days Gregory was hammered by right-wing bloggers, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, etc. for beng partisan. Rather than pile on Snow apologized an said he (i.e. Snow) had been out of line. Apologizing? Very un-Bush like Tony. But at the same time very human. Finally, by apologizing he made Limbaugh, O’Reilly, et. al look like bigger jerks than they already are. Anybody who, wittingly or unwittingly, makes that crowd look foolish cannot, by definition, be all bad.
3). Competence. Unlike his predecessors, as press secretary Snow admitted when he didn’t know an answer to a question, and (according to the scuttlebut here in Washington) really tried to find the answer. Snow also made fun of the circus-like but at the same time stuffed shirt atmosphere that is the Washington Press Corps. Which brings us to…
4) Gotta give Brownie points for Honesty. Back in 1994 a Columbia Journalism Review Article called attention to the fact that the press was more and more siding with upper class and establishment types rather than the little guy. Most journalists refused to concede the point, let alone explain why this phenomena was happening.
Only one journalist seemed to be willing to explain what was going on. Who was it? A certain Detroit News columnist and former speechwriter for Bush Sr.
“We spend a lot of time hanging out with the high and mighty,” says Tony Snow, “It’s intoxicating. In Washington, access to people in power is important, if nothing else for social reasons, for name-dropping. A lot of people think most of us are a bunch of self-important crackpots.
“I know for a fact I spend too much time in the office,” Snow adds. “We’re all glued to our phones. And there increasingly is a class element to it, where you have reporters bragging to you about their wine cellars. I also aspire to those lofty levels of income. I’m as guilty as anyone else.” Have truer words ever been spoken by somebody on the right?
You may not like what Snow said, but you can’t deny that what he said is the unvarnished truth (perhaps even more so now today). And isn’t it refreshing to hear one of these guys finally admit to aspiring to lofty levels of income rather than saying they’re just average middle class people. Come on, if Chris Matthews is middle class than I’m the manager of the Baltimore Orioles (though as a fan I take no responsibility for the 30-3 shellacking).
As columnist and even press secretary Snow was one of the few people in this town to puncture the myth of middle-classdom among the Washington elite.
But Nick, wasn’t Snow an Iraq war cheerleader at Fake News before becoming press secretary? Yes he was, but Fox would’ve cheered on the Iraq War if Tony Snow never existed. In any event, with all the other press corps people cheering Bush over Iraq, over his “authenticity”, his “downhome style” I frankly wonder whether the Bush Administration needed Fox News to sell the lemons they sold to the American public. The rest of the media was already doing it for them. Which brings us to
5). No palace court press. How many of us have ever had to clean up someone else mess. During the press secretary days of ari Fleisher and Scott McClellan , the press was a palace court press treating the words of the White House like the oracle at Delphi. By the time Snow came along, the press had figured out the Administration had taken them for a ride. So in an attempt to show they were not beng played like a fiddle, they shifted into agreessive reporter mode–that they should have been in in 2000 and/or 2004! Snow, unlike his press secretary predecessors had to actually work at his job. What we have seen during Snow’s tenure is the biggest CYA operation in the history of the free press.
Snow was just the deer caught in the headlights of the a bunch of hungry hunters who realized they’d be eating contaminated food. This is not to say I agree with most of what Snow says, but when forced to choose between Snow and hypocrticial, superficial, Administration cheerleaders known as the DC press corps who are pulling a big CYA operation can you blame me for not siding with Washington Snobs? I’ll take an admitted elite upper-class guy that I’m not supposed to agree with any day of the year. Certainly more so than press people who are supposed to help the little guy but don’t do so, to preserve their wealth and bragging rights.