Snowblind

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Almost every report I've seen on Tony Snow's new post has cited at least one of his sometimes harsh criticisms of George W. Bush. Several Democrats seem to think those old quotes should embarass the administration, while Republicans are gamely trying to spin them as proof the president doesn't surround himself with yes-men after all.

I don't buy that, but I do think Snow's past attacks probably helped him get the job. One reason Scott McLellan is on his way out is because the press corps just didn't trust him anymore. Who better to replace him than a man with a history of knocking Bush when he's wrong? If someone asks Snow about his old columns, all he has to say is, "I haven't always agreed with everything my boss has done, but I think he's a good man and a fine leader and I'm proud to work for him." Both the president and the press secretary will look good.

I realize it's dangerous to suggest that this White House knows what it's doing—before you know it, you might end up excusing every little screwup with the word "rope-a-dope" or some similarly inane refrain. But replacing McLellan with Snow seems like a genuinely smart move to me, at least as long as Snow can stomach the job.

NEXT: White House Snow Job

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  1. I do not know how you could get some more in the tank than a Fox news anchor. The only thing worse would be a speech writer for his father.

    The problem is there are no smart moves at this point – the job is to distract from the administrations performance, and they have done a remarkable job considering the policy failures, but that gig has played out. The Bush administration does not need to spin its way back to 40% approval ranges, it needs some policy successes. That would require good policies and competent execution, not replacing a press secretary with another shill.

    It may be a good move in the sense that Snow will probably get a honeymoon, but I doubt it will be long. But if Snow cannot stomach the job and does not last, it is a disaster for the administration.

  2. As Sploid pointed out, people will just appreciate being lied to in complete sentences.

  3. “stomach the job” – is that a joke about his cancer?

  4. is that a joke about his cancer?

    No, of course not. I thought he had colon cancer, not stomach cancer – if I’m wrong, please let me know and I’ll rephrase the sentence.

  5. The Bush administration does not need to spin its way back to 40% approval ranges, it needs some policy successes. That would require good policies and competent execution, not replacing a press secretary with another shill.

    I agree. I’m just saying that Snow’s past comments are a feature, not a bug.

  6. Just to calibrate my Tony Snow spin filter, he once said that he thought of himself as a “libertarian.” Will anyone else (anyone here) defend Snow’s use of that term to describe himself?

  7. he once said that he thought of himself as a “libertarian.”

    I’m guessing he meant in the inside-the-beltway, I-want-a-3%-tax-cut-not-a-2%-tax-cut kind of way.

  8. Merritt:

    Calling oneself “libertarian” is a common tactic of Statists to make it appear as though they adhere to some semblance of principles.

  9. replacing a press secretary with another shill

    I shill is someone who pretends to be something they are not. Like a casino employee who pretends to be a customer. Or a supposedly objective writer secretly on lobbyist payolaroll. Or this:

    http://tinyurl.com/qbhp3

    If Fox ever was a shill (don’t know, never watched the guy or even heard of him til recently), he probably ain’t one now.

  10. I mean –if Tony Snow ever was a shill–

    Like I said, I don’t know the guy from Adam.

  11. “I shill is someone who pretends to be something they are not.”

    Dave W. never disappoints with his wrongness…

    From Miriam-Webster:

    Shill: one who acts as a decoy (as for a pitchman or gambler); also : one who makes a sales pitch.

    I think that would pretty accurately describe the White House Press Secretary.

  12. Republicans who want to seem “cool” and “with-it” call themselves “libertarians.” Especially common on the internet. What self-respecting aging hipster would want to be seen hanging out with the likes of Hastert and Dobson? There is nothing hip about Bob Jones but he’s the heart of the party now.

  13. What you get and what you see
    Things that don’t come easily
    Feeling happy in my pain
    Icicles within my brain
    Cocaine!

    Don’t tell me no one else is down with Black Sabbath.

  14. Sometimes I like to think of myself as a billionaire playboy.

  15. Dave W. never disappoints with his wrongness…

    I stand corrected on this point. I got carried away bcs I was just so excited that there was another S T Y X ref here so soon:

    Mirror, mirror on the wall
    The face you’ve shown me scares me so
    I thought that I could call your bluff
    But now the lines are clear enough
    Life’s not pretty even though
    I’ve tried so hard to make it so
    Mornings are such cold distress
    How did I ever get into this mess

  16. I was thinking of Styx, not Sabbath, but I’m glad to see I managed to do a double allusion.

    I don’t know how libertarian Snow is overall — for all I know he might have once spent a weekend in Windsor, Ontario — but his Detroit News column could be good sometimes. His economic views had a libertarian streak, which you can see in his criticisms of Bush’s spend-happy ways.

    Not that it matters one way or the other. He’s there to front for other people’s policies, not to formulate policy himself.

  17. As far as policy success driving approval ratings, I suspect that if gas prices were two dollars a gallon, instead of three, Bush’s approval ratings would be at least ten points higher, and if prices were at the level of the mid 90’s, his approval ratings would be at least 15 points higher. There isn’t much that any President can do about the price of gas, short of circumventing the regulatory environment which has resulted in no refineries being built in this country in the past thirty years. Of course, doing that would outrage many of those who are paying such close attention to Bush’s low approval ratings.

    The job Snow has taken is for masochists only.

  18. ‘Snow big deal. Yawn. ZZZZzzzz…

  19. The honeymoon with the WH press corps will last maybe 2 days, I’d guess. Then Helen Thomas will get her face too close to one piece of glass or another and lenses and mirrors will be cracking all over the room, Tony will make some mild joke about it, ‘non-biased’ reporters will take offense, and viola! we’ll have open warfare in the WH press room once again.

    Mark my word…

  20. Fair and balanced, baby. Fair and balanced.

    LOL!

    JMJ

  21. Jesse Walker said, “Not that it matters one way or the other [whether Snow is a libertarian or not]. He’s there to front for other people’s policies, not to formulate policy himself.”

    But my question, Mr. Walker, had to do with Snow’s use of the term to describe himself — his use of language, which DOES matter a lot when we’re considering a Press Secretary’s skills at spinning. In trying to calibrate my “spin filter,” I am hoping to determine Snow’s divergence from what I or others here might call “libertarian,” as a data point to be used in estimating the nature and amount by which his future statements diverge from the truth. I’m trying to establish a correction factor.

    Remember Saddam’s old press secretary? He used to say that Saddam was routing the American troops during the 2003 siege on the Iraqi capital, when the truth was precisely the opposite. It became apparent, fairly soon, that the best correction factor to apply to that fellow’s statements — pretty much any of them! — was “NOT!” I’m trying to see whether that will work for Snow, or if I’ll need something a bit more subtle and complex.

  22. Republicans who want to seem “cool” and “with-it” call themselves “libertarians.”>>

    Calling oneself “libertarian” is a common tactic of Statists to make it appear as though they adhere to some semblance of principles.>>

    Wrong wrong wrong.
    Most people don’t even know what the hell the term means or what libertarians stand for. (as to my opinion , libraterians all seem to be pot activists). I have seen little evidence of principles or values here.

    What the people in question are trying to say is that they are not true Republicans or true Democrats.

    They would be appalled if they came to this site and saw how libraterians actually think.

  23. Libartarians tend to be fans of notions like “small government” and “lower taxes” and other such subjective, meaningless phrases. The GOPhers pick up on that and that is why most Libertarians identify more with the Right than the Left even though history has shown again and again that the leftier the government, the less the governmental growing and spending.

    Snow may be a sleazy, lying scumbag, but he’s not an idiot.

    JMJ

  24. JD said, “as to my opinion , libraterians all seem to be pot activists.”

    You certainly might think that about me, for instance, from my numerous postings against the Drug War. But the truth (for many other libertarians also, I would suspect) is that the Drug War seems at once to be a huge destroyer of liberty, as well as the easiest political lever to push with focused effort, in order to effect a big positive change in the level of liberty in this country. Not that pushing the “easiest lever” is actually all that easy to do, but still, it’s practically one-stop shopping, if your aim is to come home with Costco-size boxes of liberty.

    Of course, the actual war in Iraq outperforms the Drug War in many key areas of anti-liberty activity. So stopping the “real” war now has a higher priority with me. But stopping the Drug War is in 2nd place and will rise to the top again, if and when we can get ourselves the hell out of Iraq and avoid a war in Iran or elsewhere in the Middle East.

    It’s not really about drugs. It’s about liberty.

    Oh, and JMJ: I hope you were just joshing about phrases such as “small government” and “lower taxes” being “subjective” and “meaningless.” Just because the Beltway Buffoons with their lawyerish weasel-words have spun the objectivity and meaning out of those phrases within the territory that lies under the DC reality-warping field, doesn’t mean such words don’t count in the real world.

  25. Best appointment ever… Tony Snow is one of my favorite Fox commentators… (if not the favorite).

  26. Merritless (I love name-gags!),

    “Oh, and JMJ: I hope you were just joshing about phrases such as “small government” and “lower taxes” being “subjective” and “meaningless.” Just because the Beltway Buffoons with their lawyerish weasel-words have spun the objectivity and meaning out of those phrases within the territory that lies under the DC reality-warping field, doesn’t mean such words don’t count in the real world.”

    There’s no objectivity to those phrases. Never was. By the very definition of the adjectives, these are vacuous, pointless, utterly subjective concepts. How small is too small? How low is too low? How much wood can a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? (Who cares?) We need what we need.

    JMJ

  27. well Jersey, I think the issue of subjectivity comes about from your grammar…lower taxes is quite easily viewed objectively as “less than whatever they are at the moment”. Your problem was that you didn’t follow parallel construction in your sentence and you used small government instead of smaller which is likewise objectively defined against the current state…so you see, what we need is people to take the time to use words more betterer.

  28. Yes, gaigin, I’ll rememberer that.

    JMJ

  29. “even though history has shown again and again that the leftier the government, the less the governmental growing and spending.”

    Yeah JMJ, FDR and LBJ really planted the seeds for smaller government and reduced federal spending. Yet another intellectual gem, keep ’em coming…

  30. Jersey McJones says, “There’s no objectivity to those phrases. Never was. By the very definition of the adjectives, these are vacuous, pointless, utterly subjective concepts. How small is too small? How low is too low?”

    JMJ has already been answered on this by gaijin (thanks!), but as JMJ was speaking to me, I would just like to wonder where JMJ lives — probably within the beltway or some other bubble of unreality (and I know something about such bubbles, being a native-born resident of California).

    Yes, small government MUST be smaller than what we have. Can we make it ANY smaller? Just a little, please? Yes, lower taxes MUST be lower than what we have. Can we actually reduce them at all? Just a little, please?

    With all due respect JMJ, you sound very much like those people who see the Constitution also as having no meaning — as a “piece of paper” that is devoid of content. If you are not such a person, then you are their unwitting ally, so long as you make comments as you did to me.

  31. Actually, Madman, Johnson was pretty good with the deficit spending. Read about it. FDR doesn’t count – think post-FDR here.

    James, I’m from NJ – surprised? Bubble of unreality? My friggin ass. Try bubble that the rest of the cheap poor dumb hick states leech off. What should be smaller? How much smaller? What should be less? How much less?

    Vacuous, man. Just plain vacuous.

    JMJ

  32. What should be smaller? How much smaller? What should be less? How much less?

    I think eliminating angoro wool and helium subsidies would be a nice start.

    Also, I think it is high time PBS stood on its own two feet.

  33. JMJ- limited deficit spending amounts to naught when you’ve unleashed what is projected to be the largest entitlement program the country’s ever seen. You can argue around the margins, but given the big picture your premise about “lefty governments” is laughable. And no one informed me about the post-FDR rule, considering he singlehandedly transformed this government into the leviathan it is today.

  34. ….so who pays the salary of the White House “Press Secretary” … and who is supposed to be his ultimate employer/boss ??

    That job is, of course, a public trust paid for by the American citizenry — to whom the Press Secretary ‘should’ ethically be responsible.

    If Bush or any other public officials wish to privately hire their own public-relations agents, with their own money — they are free to do so. However, any public-affairs agent on the taxpayer-payroll — owes his allegiance & work product to the citizens … not his immediate political boss.

    The White-House Press Secretary’s politics & duty should never be/have been an issue.

    The longstanding problem is letting public officials hire their own ‘private’ PR flaks — but sending taxpayers the bill.

    The passive White House Press Corps should treat the President’s Press Secretary as a “public employee” with a clear duty to communicate the truth to the American public.. and NOT tolerate any partisan spin or stonewalling from that public employee.

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