If this story is to be believed — and I hear it is indeed accurate — then Tony Snow will be the new White House press secretary, and a particularly powerful one at that…while the unrelated Treasury Secretary John Snow will be out the door. Let’s take the latter first. John Snow isn’t exciting, but he actually has done a good job with the nuts and bolts at Treasury, and he has worked his heart out. The knock on him is that, despite his best efforts, he hasn’t been an effective salesman. That may be true — but, on the other hand, it is tough to be a good messenger when the overall communications apparatus for the whole administration hasn’t been effective. If the president can get somebody with a superb combination of policy skills, management skills, AND political/communication skills, then by all means replace John Snow. But don’t replace him with somebody else who isn’t already well known and who doesn’t within two minutes create a “Wow” factor.
If the only problem with Treasury’s Snow is indeed communications, then the White House is doing a wonderful, wonderful thing by bringing in Tony Snow to be its messenger. Indeed, with Tony as White House press secretary, JOHN Snow’s communications effectiveness might all of a sudden improve, because he’ll have a strong and positive voice coming from the White House, which is where the real responsibility lies, anyway.
Why am I so high on Tony Snow? Tony is, of course, the Fox News host and analyst and radio talk show host who has a tremendous background in print journalism. He’s very, very smart; very very principled; very very very likable; very very able at communicating. He’s telegenic and he’s clear and concise. And he has stature AND credibility independent of this administration; he’s already known to millions and millions of Americans as a credible, fair, and honest man. He’s also a true conservative who understands politics in the best sense, and a a guy who knows how to persuade rather than merely lecture (or, even worse, stonewall). Rather than playing defense AGAINST the liberal mainstream media, he’ll play offense, on behalf of conservative ideals, THROUGH the media, using them to his advantage despite their determination otherwise. Ronald Reagan knew how to do this; and while NObody quite has Reagan’s skills, I think Tony understands, more than most people, how Reagan did it and what made him successful — and how best to do a pretty fair approximation of what Reagan did.
Finally, Tony will succeed because he has so many friends in Washington, including in the mainstream media. The reality is that Tony Snow is a prince of a guy, genuinely kind and thoughtful. I don’t want to make it sound like I know Tony better than I do, but for years he has been very free with good advice (and with the time it takes to give good advice) for me when I’ve asked for it. His genuine decency shows through when he’s on TV, and I think the American public will, as they say, “give him a listen” and decide that he’s both sensible and eminently believable.
More power to him if he does indeed take the White House job, and more power to Josh Bolten and President Bush for reaching out to bring Tony on board.
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