Snow should find it easy to slide into the role of chief spinner. A former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, he’s already well practiced in making excuses for today’s Republican regime, and has a long record of peddling falsehoods for political purposes. (Last week, for instance, he bizarrely blamed skyrocketing gas prices on “people complaining about Donald Rumsfeld.”) However, the terms of his employment might be a sticking point, according to the National Journal’s Hotline blog:
Snow is said by Republicans familiar with the negotiations to have asked for guaranteed access to the president’s ear and to an unusually large degree of latitude to reconfigure the WH press operation. That pleases the new chief of staff, who wants to relegitimize the press podium in the Brady briefing room.While Snow can be a smooth talker, and his entry into the press room could be a welcome relief (at least initially) after nearly three years of McClellan’s obfuscations and clumsy turns away from probing questions, the Busheviks can’t expect to improve their low standing with the press and voters merely by installing a new talking head behind the briefing podium. Honesty and candor from the Oval Office are ultimately the only curatives that might--I repeat, might--heal the decayed relationship between this GOP White House and a public distrustful of Bush’s words and intentions. And I don’t see any signs that the prez--who remains oblivious to his errors of judgment in launching a war on Iraq as well as to his hypocrisy in secretly authorizing intelligence leaks to a reporter, even as his CIA director dismisses a senior career officer for allegedly doing much the same thing--is ready to promote truth over “truthiness” at any time soon.
But Snow, not content to be a herald, also wants near-complete control over what he says from the podium, be it bromides, platitudes or substance. That would encroach on the broad portfolio of responsibilities that [“counselor to the president” and former White House communications director] Dan Bartlett claims for himself.
Former presidential adviser David Gergen suggests that Snow’s public profile, which is much higher than either McClellan’s or that of Bush’s previous press secretary, Ari Fleischer, will make it harder for the administration to use him as a pawn in its continuing war against a press hungry for facts, not fabrications. However, Snow has already been toeing the party line pretty hard at FOX. If he really objected to the White House’s serial falsehoods, it would have been easier for him to utter those protests when he was outside, not inside, the West Wing--and he didn’t do that (though, as Think Progress points out, he has voiced some hesitancy about Bush’s behavior in the past, at one point calling the prez “something of an embarrassment”).
No, probably the best that we can expect to come from this changing of the press secretary guard is a new nickname reflective of Bush’s dismissive attitude toward media and public scrutiny. “Stonewall Scotty” McClellan may be gone, but “Tony Snow Job” is waiting in the wings.
READ MORE: “Building a Better White House Press Secretary,” by John Dickerson (Slate); “Meet Tony Snow” (The Anonymous Liberal); “Suggested Questions for the White House Press Corps to Ask on Tony Snow’s First Day” (Media Matters).